PhD in Infectious Diseases and Immunity

The PhD program in Infectious Diseases and Immunity (IDI) is a laboratory based research program where students study infectious diseases and immunology through a public health lens.

The IDI Program intends to create opportunities for students to gain new and advanced knowledge about infectious disease agents and how they interact with host cells, human populations, and the environment. Our goal is to improve public health by increasing our understanding of infectious diseases and human immunology through basic and translational research that contributes to developing new diagnostics, treatments, and methods to prevent or control diseases. Because the IDI Graduate Group is administratively managed by the School of Public Health, we follow the School of Public Health application process and deadlines.

Program Objectives

The objective of this program is to provide students with research-oriented training that will enable them to design and implement independent investigations and advance the fundamental knowledge of infectious disease agents and their interactions with the human host and the environment. The IDI PhD program is a five to six-year program. Students in the program are fully funded throughout their time in the program, and are provided with a competitive monthly stipend.

We strive to promote health by integrating basic research and applied technologies to develop new approaches for the diagnosis, treatment, prevention, and control of infectious disease in humans. This program combines clinical, epidemiological, and basic laboratory research strategies in order to apply these methods to specific infectious disease problems affecting human populations. In addition, students have opportunities to interact with faculty members from multidisciplinary centers involved in global infectious disease research. These include the Center for Global Public Health and the Center for Emerging and Neglected Diseases. Students matriculating through this program will acquire expertise in not only fundamental infectious disease research, but also learn how their research relates to other disciplines. Students matriculating through this degree program will acquire expertise in fundamental infectious diseases research for which there is demand from academic institutions, local and national government agencies, and biotechnology companies.

Program Snapshot:

1st year: Classes and three lab rotations

End of 1st year: Join dissertation research lab

2nd year: GSI for a semester and take qualifying examination

3rd-5th/6th years: Complete dissertation research, hold thesis committee meetings and GSI one additional time

IDI students spend their first year taking an interdisciplinary set of classes and completing three lab rotations. The curriculum aims to introduce students to the breadth of infectious disease and immunology research while sharpening statistical skills and building a strong foundation of basic science knowledge. These courses are supplemented by a small faculty led seminar in the first and second years that focuses on developing and improving specific skills like grant writing, qualifying exam preparation and critical research paper analyses.

For additional details on program requirements, see resources for current students page.

Qualifications

The following subjects are normally required as undergraduate preparation for all candidates. Deficiencies must be made up early during the graduate program.

  • Mathematics: Calculus; one course in probability or statistics.
  • Physics: General physics.
  • Chemistry and biochemistry: Inorganic chemistry; organic chemistry; biochemistry; and associated laboratories.
  • Biology: General biology lecture and laboratory; genetics; and a basic course(s) in molecular biology.

Common undergraduate majors for admitted applicants: Biology, integrative biology, microbiology, biological sciences, biology and communications

Common work experience for admitted applicants: Work experience is not required for admission, but relevant work experience related to infectious diseases, e.g. wet laboratory and/or surveillance work is important for the IDI PhD program. Most of the admitted applicants have strong lab and research experience.

Faculty

IDI Graduate Group faculty come from multiple departments including Infectious Diseases and Vaccinology, Plant and Microbial Biology, and Molecular and Cell Biology. In addition, a unique aspect of the IDI program is our affiliation with UCSF faculty who conduct work in the area of global infectious disease. IDI students may choose to join any IDI affiliated lab for their thesis research.

UCSF Affiliated Faculty

Below is a list of UCSF professors who are currently affiliated with IDI but who are only a small selection of potential UCSF mentors.

Seemay ChouMargaret FeeneyBryan Greenhouse
Warner GreeneOren RosenbergPhil Rosenthal

Current IDI PhD Students

Students meet once a month to informally socialize and share program updates.

Student NameFaculty Advisor; Lab
Paulina AndradeDr. Eva Harris; The Harris Research Program
Eric LeeDr. Daniel Portnoy; The Portnoy Lab
Alexandra TsitsiklisDr. Ellen Robey; The Robey Lab
Student NameFaculty Advisor; Lab
Derek BangsDr. Ellen Robey; The Robey Lab
Gina BorgoDr. Matthew Welch; The Welch Lab
Kristina Geiger, NSF GRFP FellowDr. Laurent Coscoy; The Coscoy Lab
Student NameFaculty Advisor; Lab
Perri CallawayDr. Eva Harris (UCB); Feeney Lab (UCSF)
Student NameFaculty Advisor; Lab
Nicholas LoDr. Eva Harris; The Harris Research Program
Student NameFaculty Advisor; Lab
Cuong Joseph TranDr. Matthew Welch; The Welch Lab
Joanna VindenDr. Bryan Greenhouse; Greenhouse Lab (UCSF)
Marcus WongDr. Eva Harris; The Harris Research Program
Student NameFaculty Advisor
Eric JedelDr. Eva Harris
Kishen PatelDr. Eva Harris
Reinaldo Mercado-HernandezDr. Eva Harris

Donors

We would like to thank the following funding donors for their generous fellowship support to support our students and our work:

  • Hillel and Rose Levine Fellowship
  • The Albert and Mildred Krueger Memorial Fellowship
  • Sally Anne Bradley Presser and Steven A. Presser Fellowships

Prospective donors: please visit give.berkeley.edu.