About the department

Infectious diseases are the leading cause of death in children worldwide. To better understand the process of infection, advance cures and improve prevention strategies, St. Jude established the Department of Host-Microbe Interactions (HMI) in 2023. The HMI’s mission is to promote fundamental research in antimicrobial resistance, host-microbe and host-pathogen interactions, and immunity to infection.

Led by Victor J. Torres, PhD, HMI leverages multidisciplinary research with close institutional collaborations with the Department of Infectious Diseases and other basic science departments to be at the forefront of discovery in infection biology. 

Research Team

Department at a glance

Core resources

HMI utilizes a myriad of scientific approaches to study the complex interactions between microbes and their host. These include techniques from microbiology, virology, immunology, biochemistry, chemical biology, structural biology and computational biology. HMI hosts several state-of-the-art cores. Together with shared resources and core facilities, we are realizing our mission to tackle catastrophic infectious diseases.

Microbial Biorepository

The Microbial Biorepository Core coordinates the collection, biobanking and characterization of microbial specimens and collects and curates the associated clinical metadata.

Microbial Computational Genomics and Bioinformatics

The Microbial Computational Genomics and Bioinformatics core provides HMI and Center for Infectious Diseases Research (CIDR) faculty with top-notch computational biology support for genomics and transcriptomic analyses.

Protein Biologics and Screening

The Protein Biologics and Screening core supports the development of human and murine monoclonal antibodies and other biologic modalities to promote basic and translational studies against microbes responsible for catastrophic infectious diseases.

BSL2/BSL3 Operations Core

The BSL2/BSL3 Operations Core provides HMI and CIDR faculty with support for studies requiring special biosafety consideration and maintains the high-end equipment in HMI.

Department team

Victor J. Torres, PhD
Chair, Department of Host-Microbe Interactions 
Director, Center for Infectious Diseases Research
Albert and Rosemary Joseph Endowed Chair in Host-Microbe Interactions

Elaine I. Tuomanen, MD
Director CIDC

Richard J. Webby, PhD
Director, WHO Collaborating Center for Studies on the Ecology of Influenza in Animals and Birds

Stacey L. Schultz-Cherry, PhD
Deputy Director, WHO Collaborating Center for Studies on the Ecology of Influenza in Animals and Birds

Joel Otero, PhD
Director, Research Operations

Shelly Burrow
Administrative Director

Greymi Perez Lopez
Sr. Administrative Coordinator

Training and Development

HMI faculty are invested in and committed to mentoring and training the next generation of scientists who will push the boundaries of research to solve important questions in the field of infection biology. Weekly work-in-progress meetings and departmental seminars raise the visibility of ongoing work across the member labs and provide opportunities for interaction, feedback, and collaboration with subject matter experts.

Interested in pursuing doctoral training in HMI? St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital offers a degree-granting program from the Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences. Learn how a degree from St. Jude can support your scientific development and make a difference.

St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital also provides an unparalleled opportunity to advance the scientific career of postdoctoral fellows. Interested candidates should apply here or contact individual faculty members. 

Current makeup and future growth

HMI is a new department and is undergoing substantial growth. HMI currently consists of eight individual laboratories and expects to grow to 17 laboratories over the next five years. St. Jude investigators have the freedom to focus on making transformative discoveries backed by extraordinary resources and support teams. We are always seeking highly motivated scientists with passion and talent to join us!

Contact us

Victor J. Torres, PhD, Chair 
Department of Host-Microbe Interactions
Room D2038
St. Jude Children's Research Hospital

262 Danny Thomas Place
Memphis, TN, 38105-3678 USA

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262 Danny Thomas Place
Memphis, TN, 38105-3678 USA