Dr. Paolo Casali, chairman of the Department of Microbiology, Immunology & Molecular Genetics (MIMG), was awarded a T32 (1 T32 AI138944-01) Training Grant for his Graduate Research in Immunology Program (GRIP) from the National Institutes of Health. The five-year grant began September 1, 2018, and the first eligible graduate students will be selected for the upcoming academic year.

By fostering and integrating research and training in molecular and cellular mechanisms of innate and adaptive immunity, B and T cell biology, antibody gene expression and epigenetics, immunology of aging, autoimmunity, microbial pathogenesis and cancer immunology, GRIP will train Ph.D., D.D.S./Ph.D. and M.D./Ph.D. students for successful careers in academia, industry or government. The overarching goal is to train immunologists who will become leaders in the biomedical field.

“In addition to the need for continued advances in our basic understanding of immune responses in health and disease, there is a need for translating what is being learned from preclinical and animal models to human diseases more directly,” said Paolo Casali, M.D., principal investigator of the grant and professor and chairman of MIMG, “GRIP is designed to address this need by offering select Ph.D. students, enrolled in our Ph.D. program, unique opportunities for training beyond the basic curriculum.”

The GRIP T32 will provide support for three students per year, and a fourth slot will be supported by matching funds from the Dean of the Long School of Medicine. Eligible students appointed to the grant will receive full stipend and tuition. The GRIP T32 requires that trainees comply with NIH guidelines and fulfill all specific requirements. In addition, it demands that trainees take all courses required for students enrolled in the Molecular Immunology & Microbiology (MIM) discipline. Trainees may also be required to take additional course(s).


Appointment to the GRIP T32 is of highest merit and applications will be reviewed competitively by the selection committee on a yearly basis. Each appointed trainee will be required to re-apply each year. Applications should include a NIH fellowship formatted biosktech, a cover letter outlining your work, and attachments of any copies of published papers or papers submitted for publication. The major criterion for support will be productivity. The cover letter with description of your work is particularly important those students who do not have anything published yet (mainly 2nd year students).

Criteria for Eligibility

  • Students must be enrolled in the Molecular Immunology and Microbiology Discipline.
  • Students must be in good academic standing.
  • Students must have successfully completed the program qualifying exam and applied for admission to candidacy for the PhD.
  • Must be a US citizen or permanent resident of the US
  • A completed application should be submitted by the deadline

2018-2019 Appointed Trainees


Daniel Chupp, Ph.D. Candidate
Dr. Paolo Casali’s Lab
His project focuses on the generation and advancement of the humanized mouse model while characterizing the functional human immune response and investigating epigenetic regulation of autoantibody production within a human lymphocyte-dependent lupus model of humanized mice.
Stephen Gonzales, Ph.D. Candidate
Dr. Evelien Bunnik’s Lab
His current research project aim is to decipher the development and characteristics of the protective humoral immune response.
Justin Moroney, Ph.D. Candidate
Dr. Paolo Casali’s Lab
His project focuses on the identification and characterization of the coding and non-coding transcriptome within human memory B cells, thus deciphering how epigenetic elements influence gene expression and cellular function.
Travis Shute
Dr. Elizabeth Leadbetter’s Lab
His current project focuses on developing a consistent murine in vivo tumor model for melanoma and lymphoma cancers and assisting with other research areas in the lab.