Thomas A. Russo MD

Thomas Russo

Thomas A. Russo

SUNY Distinguished Professor; Professor and Chief, Infectious Disease

Department of Medicine

Jacobs School of Medicine & Biomedical Sciences

Specialty/Research Focus

Infectious Disease; Microbial Pathogenesis

Contact Information
Jacobs School of Medicine of Biomedical Sciences, room 5212
University at Buffalo
955 Main St.
Buffalo, New York 14203
Phone: (716) 829-2674

Patient Care

This faculty member is affiliated with UBMD, practicing physicians who are also professors in the Jacobs School.

View this physician on UBMD

Professional Summary:

I am an expert in infectious diseases, and I care for hospitalized patients at the Buffalo VA Medical Center (Buffalo VAMC).

I have an active, nationally funded translational research program. My research focuses on Gram-negative bacilli (GNB), including Escherichia coli, Acinetobacter baumannii and a new hypervirulent variant of Klebsiella pneumoniae.

These GNB cause infection in nearly every non-intestinal site in the body. The hypervirulent variant of K. pneumoniae is both fascinating and worrisome. Unlike its predecessors, it is capable of causing infection in young, healthy hosts and spreading nearly anywhere in the body from the initial infected site, including the eyes and brain. GNB-caused infections result in the loss of billions of health care dollars, millions of work days and hundreds of thousands of lives each year.

GNB are becoming increasingly resistant to antibiotics, including strains that have become resistant to all available antibiotics. Unfortunately, there are virtually no new antimicrobial agents active against highly resistant GNB in the pharmaceutical “pipeline.” To address this formidable clinical challenge, my collaborators and I have increased our understanding of the bacterial factors that are critical for these GNB to cause infection. We use this information to develop vaccines that will prevent infection and antibodies that can be used to treat infection. My UB collaborators include Dr. Campagnari (microbiology) and Dr. Gulick (structural biology). My research also involves identifying potential bacterial drug targets; this information will be used to develop new classes of antibiotics.

I intermittently have students in my lab, and I participate in a grant designed to encourage medical students to become physician-scientists. I welcome interested students to contact me about conducting research with me.

The Buffalo VAMC is the site of my clinical teaching. I teach first- and second-year medical students in lecture settings and small group sessions, including courses in lung respiration, musculoskeletal, renal and microbiology-immunology. Residents attend my grand rounds; I also teach fellows in all aspects of their training and mentor those who perform their research projects in my lab.

Since the advent of the COVID-19 pandemic I have served as a resource to educate and inform healthcare providers, the public, and businesses on how to best manage this evolving crisis as well as other topical infectious diseases issues.

Education and Training:

  • Certificate, Management, University at Buffalo School of Management (2015)
  • Fellowship, Infectious Disease, Tufts-New England Medical Center (1988)
  • Medicine, Harvard-New England Deaconess Hospital (1985)
  • McGill University (1982)


  • Chief, Division of Infectious Diseases, Medicine, UB School of Medicine (2009-present)
  • Professor, Medicine, University at Buffalo Jacobs School of Medicine & Biomedical Sciences (1994-present)
  • Vice Chair of Finance, Department of Medicine, University at Buffalo (2012–2019)
  • Honorary Board member, Shanghai Public Health Board (2012)
  • Senior Staff Fellow, Laboratory of Clinical Investigation, National Institutes of Health National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (1989–1994)
  • Clinical Assistant Instructor, Division of Geographic Medicine and Infectious Diseases, Tufts University (1988–1989)

Awards and Honors:

  • Top Doctors (2024)
  • George F. Koepf Award (2023)
  • Inducted into Alpha Omega Alpha (2023)
  • Top Doctors (2023)
  • Top Doctors (2022)
  • The Chancellor Charles P. Norton Medal (2021)
  • SUNY Distinguished Professor (2021)
  • Dean's Award-Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences (2020)
  • Veterans Administration Biomedical Laboratory R&D Senior Clinical Scientist Award (2019)
  • Stockton Kimball Award (2017)
  • University at Buffalo Exceptional Scholar Sustained Achievement Award (2012)
  • Visionary Inventor: UB technology licensed to Zeptometrix Corp. (2009)
  • Top 100 Principal Investigators at the University at Buffalo (2005)
  • SUNY Inventor award (for U.S. patent # patent 6,410,703) (2003)
  • Top 100 Federal Grantees at the University at Buffalo (2002)
  • F. Carter Pannill Award (1997)
  • IDSA-Stuart Pharmaceutical Fellowship in Infectious Diseases (1987)
  • Hinton Book Award-Residency-Harvard-NE Deaconess Hospital (1985)
  • James McGill Award-McGill University (1981)
  • James McGill Award-McGill University (1980)
  • Faculty Scholar-McGill University (1980)
  • University Scholar-McGill University (1979)

Research Expertise:

  • Acinetobacter baumannii pathogenesis
  • Actinomycosis: infections caused by the genera Actinomyces
  • Bisphosphonate-induced osteonecrosis
  • Drug development: A. baumannii
  • Enteric gram-negative bacilli: Infections caused by Gram-negative bacilli
  • Extraintestinal pathogenic Escherichia coli pathogenesis: pathogenesis vaccine development
  • Host-pathogen interactions: Understanding mechanisms by which extraintestinal patghogenic E. coli modify host defenses
  • Identification of antimicrobial targets
  • Klebsiella pneumoniae pathogenesis: drug target identification pathogenesis biofilms
  • Microbial pathogenesis: Understanding the mechanisms by which extraintestinal pathogenic E. coli, Acinetobacter, and Klebsiella cause disease
  • Pathogenesis of urinary tract infection
  • Vaccine development: Extraintestinal pathogenic E. coli, Klebsiella pneumoniae, and Acinetobacter

Research Centers:

  • Witebsky Center for Microbial Pathogenesis and Immunology

Grants and Sponsored Research:

  • September 2022–August 2027
    Mab Passive Vaccination against Acinetobacter baumannii
    Role: Co-Investigator
  • May 2022–April 2027
    Novel Combination Therapies to Combat Hypermutable Carbapenem-Resistant P. aeruginosa
    Role: Co-Investigator
  • October 2019–September 2023
    Determining the value of PBP 7/8 as an antimicrobial target for XDR-A. baumannii
    Veterans Administration
    Role: Principal Investigator
  • August 2020–July 2023
    Identification of new or unrecognized virulence genes in hypervirulent Klebsiella pneumoniae and antivirulence genes in classical K. pneumoniae.
    Role: Principal Investigator
  • September 2017–August 2022
    Mab Passive Vaccination against Acinetobacter baumannii
    Role: Co-Investigator
  • August 2018–August 2021
    DHODH Inhibitors: A Potential New Class of Antimicrobials for Treatment of the Drug Resistant Gram-Negative Bacillus Acinetobacter baumannii
    Role: Co-Principal Investigator
  • February 2016–January 2020
    Development of a HTP Assay for Inhibitors of Aerobactin Production
    Role: Co-Investigator
  • March 2016–February 2019
    Development of a diagnostic test for hypervirulent Klebsiella pneumoniae
    Role: Principal Investigator
  • February 2016–January 2019
    Development of HTP Assay for Inhibitors of Aerobactin Production(R01AI116998)
    National Institutes of Health
    Role: Co-Investigator
  • March 2015–February 2016
    Purification and identification of ascitocin, a novel or unrecognized antibiotic of human origin
    Role: Co-Principal Investigator
  • August 2014–February 2016
    Monoclonal antibody passive vaccination to treat XDR Acinetobacter infections
    Role: Co-Investigator
  • April 2011–March 2015
    Analysis of A. baumannii capsule as a vaccine candidate
    Veterans Administration
    Role: Principal Investigator
  • September 2011–October 2014
    Identification of New Drug Targets in Multi-Drug Resistant Bacterial Infections
    Department of Defense (DOD)
    Role: Co-Principal Investigator
  • October 2010–October 2013
    Electrical Stimulation of Titanium for the Prevention and/or Eradication of A. baumannii and S. aureus Biofilm Infections on Osseointegrated Prostheses
    Congressionally Directed Medical Research Program-Peer Reviewed Orthopaedic Research Program
    Role: Co-Investigator
  • August 2011–July 2013
    Identification of genes essential for survival of hypervirulent Kleb. pneumonia
    Role: Principal Investigator
  • March 2007–April 2012
    Pathogenesis of Aspiration Pneumonitis
    Role: Co-Investigator
  • July 2001–June 2005
    The Pathogenesis of Grand Negative Bacillary Pneumonia
    US Dept of Health, Education and Welfare
    Role: Principal Investigator
See all (7 more)


  • Identification of a vaccine candidate from an extraintestinal isolate of E A potential vaccine candidate or diagnostic tool for infections due to extraintestinal pathogenic E. coli

Journal Articles:

See all (116 more)

Books and Book Chapters:

  • Russo TA. (2015) In: Actinomycosis and Whipple‘s Disease.
  • Russo TA. (2015) In: Actinomycosis.
  • Russo TA Johnson JR. (2015) In: Diseases caused by gram-negative enteric bacilli.
  • Russo TA. (2014) In: Agents of Actinomycosis.
  • Russo TA. (2009) In: Agents of Actinomycosis.
  • Bianchine PJ, Russo TA. (1992) The role of epidemic infectious diseases in the discovery of America.

Professional Memberships:

  • American Association for the Advancement of Science (2006–present)
  • Fellow, Infectious Diseases Society of America (1993–present)
  • American Society of Microbiology (1989–present)


  • "The hunt for hypervirulent Klebsiella pneumoniae-specific virulence factors" Klebsiella virtual seminar series (2022)
  • "A case of hypervirulent Klebsiella pneumoniae" Infectious Diseases Grand Rounds at the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics (2022)
  • "“A surprise within a surprise.”" UB MD-PhD seminar series (2021)
  • "COVID Pandemic" Buffalo Virtual Summer Research Day (2021)
  • "Is the Pandemic Over? Where We Stand with COVID--19" Medical Grand Rounds (2021)
  • "COVID Pandemic" UB School of Public Health and Health Professions Commencement (2021)
  • "“Career development, COVID, and Q&A.”" Keynote speaker at the GSPHA Graduate Research Symposium. (2021)
  • "“COVID-19 update/Q&A”." Family Medicine Grand Rounds (2021)
  • "“Post-CTSI forum reflections: UB experts discuss COVID-19 strategies and lessons.”" CTSI COVID Forum (2021)
  • "Acute pyelonephritis in adults" Invited talk at the 70th Northeastern Section of the American Urologic Association (2018)
  • "Hypervirulent Klebsiella pneumoniae: An emerging pathotype poised to inflict global havoc" Invited talk at the 28th European Congress of Clinical Microbiology and Infectious Diseases (2018)
  • "Hypervirulent Klebsiella pneumoniae: The next plague?" Invited talk: Kansas State (2018)
  • "Hypervirulent Klebsiella pneumoniae: A dangerous pathotype poised to create global havoc" Invited to present at intramural NIH (2014)
  • "Catheter-associated UTIs: Can we make them extinct?" Invited talk at the 21st National Conference on Nosocomial Infection of the Chinese Preventive Medicine Association (CPMA) and the 8th Shanghai International Forum of Infection Control (SIFIC) (2012)
  • "Extreme and multi-drug resistance in gram-negative bacilli" Invited talk at Shanghai Public Health Clinical Center by Dr. Lu (2012)
  • "Hypervirulent Klebsiella pneumoniae: Beginning to understand the next potential superbug" Invited talk at Beijing You’An Hospital by Dr. Yu (2012)
  • "Numerous" Grand Rounds (Medicine et al) Infectious Diseases Clinical and research conferences
See all (7 more)

Service Activities:

  • Search committee for Associate Vice President for Health Sciences Research Administration and Finance; Chair (2022–2023)
  • Communication Director-School of Medicine search; member (2022)
  • DEI Supplements Review, Department of Veterans Affairs; reviewer (2022)
  • grant reviewer; INFB Merit Review Grants, Department of Veterans Affairs (2022)
  • Dean’s COVID Research Integration Work Group; member (2021–2022)
  • COVID Surge Committee; member (2021–2022)
  • grant reviewer; INFB Merit Review Grants, Department of Veterans Affairs (2021)
  • grant reviewer; INFB Merit Review Grants, Department of Veterans Affairs (2021)
  • grant reviewer; INFB Merit Review Grants, Department of Veterans Affairs (2020)
  • COVID-19 Sewage monitoring committee; member (2020–2022)
  • COVID-19 Lifelink committee; member (2020–2021)
  • UB Press Conferences-Town Halls relating to COVID-19; Panelist (2020–present)
  • COVID-19 Screening, Testing and Contact Tracing Protocol Committee; member (2020–2022)
  • grant reviewer; INFB Merit Review Grants, Department of Veterans Affairs (2020)
  • Wrote or reviewed and edited numerous COVID-19 related articles-FAQ for UB Communications; writer-editor (2020–present)
  • Advised on various COVID infection control practices and policies on isolation and quarantine; Expert Advisor (2020–present)
  • NIH Special Emphasis Panel/Scientific Review Group 2020/05 ZRG1 IDM-Y (82) S meeting- Exploration of antimicrobial therapeutics and resistance; grant reviewer (2020)
  • webinars, talks; Resource various schools, institutions, and businesses during the COVID pandemic (2020–present)
  • >1,350 print, radio, TV media interviews. Local, national, and international. Educational talks, webinars, videos to various community groups; Resource and educator during the COVID pandemic (2020–present)
  • INFB Merit Review Grants, Department of Veterans Affairs; grant reviewer (2019)
  • The Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research-Vici proposal; grant reviewer (2018)
  • NIH-Partnerships for the Development of Vaccines and Immunoprophylactics Targeting Multiple Antibiotic-Resistant Bacteria; grant reviewer (2018)
  • Vice Chair of Finance, multiple monthly meeting on various aspects of the PP (2017–2019)
  • Co-Chair- Committee to write Standards 1 and 5 for the DCI document for the School of Medicine’s LCME re-accreditation; Co-Chair (2017–2018)
  • Executive Committee for the School of medicine’s LCME re-accreditation; member (2017–2018)
  • Faculty Council Governance body for the Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences; President (2016–2017)
  • Medical Student Annual Research Forum; reviewer (2015–present)
  • Merit Review Grants, Depart. Veterans Affairs, Infect. Dis. B; grant reviewer (2013–2016)
  • UB-Capital Medical University (Beijing, China) exchange program; Director (2012–present)
  • Institut Pasteur “Transverse Research Programs; grant reviewer (2012)
  • CME Conference Planning Committee; member (2012–2018)
  • Vice Chair of Business Operations, multiple monthly meeting on finance related matters; Vice Chair of Business Operations (2012–2017)
  • T35 Steering Committee-Research in Infectious Diseases, Microbiology & Immunology for Medical Students; Committee Member (2011–present)
  • UBMDIM Board of Directors Practice plan board for the Department of Medicine; Board Member (2011–2019)
  • interviews for print, radio, TV media outlets; Resource for non-COVID infectious diseases issues (2011–present)
  • Committee for Evaluation of MD-PhD Training Program; Chair (2011)
  • Ad Hoc Committee for Qualified Promotions; Committee Member (2010–2013)
  • Faculty Senate; Member (2009–2011)
  • Council Undergraduate Research Academy; Advisory Committee (2009–2010)
  • NIH; NIH-Host Interactions with Bacterial Pathogens;; Ad Hoc Reviewer (2009)
  • New York State; New York State_Empire Clinical Research Investigator Program;; Grant Reviewer (2008)
  • Undergraduate Research Academy (2008–2009)
  • Canadian Institutes of Health Research; Canadian Institutes of Health Research-Infectious Diseases;; Ad Hoc Reviewer (2007)
  • University Faculty Recognition Committee; Committee Member (2007–2010)
  • NIH; NIH SEP ZRG1 RUS-B (05);; Grant Reviewer (2006)
  • NIH; NIH-Host Interactions with Bacterial Pathogens;; Panel Member (2005)
  • Veterans Administration; VA-Infectious Diseases B;; Panel Member (2004–2007)
  • MD-PhD Steering Committee; Committee Member (2004–2020)
  • USDA; United States Department of Agriculture;; Ad Hoc Reviewer (2004)
  • NIH; NIH Bacteriology & Mycology1 Study section;; Panel Member (2003)
  • NIH; NIH Lung Biology & Pathology Study Section;; Panel Member (2003)
  • Department of Defense; Defense Health-Related Research Program;; Ad Hoc Reviewer (2000)
  • Faculty Council Steering Committee; Member (2000–2002)
  • VAMC Institutional Animal Care and Usage Committee; Chair (2000–2003)
  • Faculty Council; Department Representative (1999–2001)
  • NIH; NIH Micro. & Immuno. Sciences SEP;; Panel Member (1999)
  • University Biosafety Committee; Committee Member (1999–present)
  • NIH; NIH Micro. & Immuno. Sciences SEP;; Panel Member (1998)
  • Medical Student Mentoring Program; Student Mentor (1997–2003)
  • Veterans Administration; VA-Infectious Diseases B;; Ad Hoc Reviewer (1997)
  • Internal reviewer for the 14th edition of Harrison’s Principles of Internal Medicine; reviewer (1996)
  • 10-15 manuscripts per annum I have reviewed manuscripts for 59 different journals over my academic career, including the NEJM, JAMA, Lancet Infectious Diseases, Nature, PLos Pathogens, JID, CID, and Molec Microbiol.; manuscript reviewer (1994–present)

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Contact Information

Jacobs School of Medicine of Biomedical Sciences, room 5212
University at Buffalo
955 Main St.
Buffalo, New York 14203
Phone: (716) 829-2674

This faculty member is affiliated with UBMD, practicing physicians who are also professors in the Jacobs School.

View this physician on UBMD