PhD Program

Essi Tchalla.

Doctoral student Essi Tchalla says our graduate training is vigorous and prepares trainees to be great scientists. “You can always count on faculty and staff in the department to guide you to the right path,” she notes.

Our doctoral program offers you a holistic package for success. You will explore multiple organisms — viruses, eukaryotes and bacteria — plus immunology. You will contribute to research that paves the way for novel infectious disease therapies. You will prepare for a career in academia, government or industry.

Explore Microbiology and Immunology at UB

Perhaps an influential undergraduate professor inspired your passion for microbiology and immunology.

Maybe you were intrigued by a fascinating lab rotation during your first year in our PhD Program in Biomedical Sciences.

Or were you pulled in by the action — “the wicked little arms race between a pathogen and its host” — as one of our parasitologists describes it?

If you want to study microorganisms while paving the way for much-needed new therapies against infectious diseases, our PhD program gives you the skill set and professional acumen you need — wherever your career path may lead.

The Breadth to Build Your Future

Unlike some programs that let you track in one area, we give you a background in all four major components of the field: bacterial pathogenesis, eukaryotic pathogenesis, virology and immunology. We believe it’s essential for you to have a foundation and some level of expertise in each area.

This will help you become a broad-based scientist who can contribute your knowledge in multiple roles.

Building on your first-year experiences in biochemistry, molecular biology and genomics, you will at first explore each area through our core courses. You will likely complete these four graduate-level introductory courses by the middle of your second year.

You will then further explore each topic through our constantly changing advanced specialty courses. These interactive courses go beyond didactics. You will explore and discuss current literature and engage in journal clubs and presentations.

Becoming an Independent Scientist

Once you officially join one of our labs in your second year, our internationally recognized faculty will train you — one-on-one — in the details of your chosen focus area.

The most important thing we teach you, however, is how to think independently as a scientist.

Yes, you will learn a wide variety of the latest molecular techniques. But you also will learn what techniques are available and how to formulate a plan to attack your own questions or hypothesis. 

With our guidance and individualized mentor-teaching, you will progress from an inquiring student (“What do I do next?”) to a scientific colleague (“This is what I think I should do next.”). Will all your ideas be viable? Maybe not. But we’ll help you sort through that and develop a strategy for investigation.

You will grow as a scientist by closely collaborating with your faculty mentor. You will have opportunities to train with specialists in all four major research focuses

Because our research is relevant to public health, our faculty secure major grants from the NIH as well as private foundations, such as the American Heart Association and the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation of America. 

We’re just as committed to training our students as we are to research. Several of our faculty have been recognized for excellence in mentoring or teaching.

While you train with our dedicated scientists, you’ll be able to focus on your research, not your living expenses. We fully fund your entire course of study.

Learn From Global Collaborators

Your mentor will likely collaborate with scientists from across the university, the region and the world — and you will benefit from their expertise.

For example, we have worked with colleagues from Columbia University, Stanford University, the Universidad de la Républica in Uruguay and the University of Montreal. 

Locally, we collaborate with researchers at the Witebsky Center for Microbial Pathogenesis and Immunology, UB’s New York State Center of Excellence in Bioinformatics and Life SciencesRoswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center and the Hauptman-Woodward Medical Research Institute.

As part of our collaborative team, you will be exposed to a variety of techniques and perspectives about science. While engaging in this cross-pollination of ideas, you will learn how to be a citizen of the global scientific community.

Prepare for Your Next Step ... and Beyond

By the time you finish our program, you’ll be ready to take on a wide variety of career options.

You will have the training you need to pursue your specific area of interest. You also will have the background to work in virtually any area of microbiology and immunology. You will have the breadth to change direction. As life takes you to different places, you will be fully prepared. 

The proof is in our alumni’s success. Take a look at where our alumni have landed. There’s a lot of breadth in their career outcomes.

Our alumni are teaching and conducting research at prominent universities and teaching in undergraduate institutions. They’re making their marks in biotechnology research and development as well as management and leadership. 

With your PhD  from our department, these career paths and more will open to you.

Consider the Possibilities at UB

How do your interests align with opportunities in our department?

Learn what our faculty are accomplishing. Consider being a part of it.

Learn More

Contact Us

Director of Graduate Studies

Wohlfert, Elizabeth

Elizabeth Wohlfert, Ph.D.

Associate Professor

Room 5256 955 Main Street Buffalo, NY 14203

Phone: 7168293969


Associate Director of Graduate Studies

Armbruster, Chelsie

Chelsie Armbruster, PhD

Associate Professor

Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences Room 5218 955 Main Street Buffalo, NY 14203

Phone: (716) 829-6059


Graduate Program Administrator

Caroline Golach.

Caroline Golach

Senior Staff Assistant

Microbiology and Immunology

955 Main St. Room 5102B Buffalo, NY 14203-1121

Phone: (716) 829-2993


PhD At a Glance

PhD students20 

Various mentored research opportunities, including collaborative projects through the Witebsky Center for Microbial Pathogenesis and Immunology

Focus Areas

Financial support