Lab student looks at petri dish
Microbiology & Immunology Lectureships

The Department of Microbiology & Immunology offers several lectureships named in recognition of outstanding scientists. For example, Professor Brockman's work appeared in the major virology journals, and he was the author of several influential review articles. 

The lectureships offer an opportunity to meet and interact with former trainees who have carved successful career paths, and to allow the invitees a chance to reconnect with the department.

William Warner Brockman (1942-1984)

Professor William Brockman received his B.S. degree with distinction from Cornell University, Ithaca, in 1964, and his M.D. degree from Cornell University Medical College, New York, in 1968.

In 1970, following an Internship and Residency at the Baltimore City Hospital and the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Professor Brockman began his postdoctoral research training on RNA tumor viruses in the laboratory of Dr. William A. Carter at Johns Hopkins University. In 1972, he broadened the scope of his training to include the DNA viruses by joining the laboratory of Dr. Daniel Nathans at the same institution. This training was followed by two additional years of research in the laboratory of Dr. Robert Martin at the National Institute of Health.

Professor Brockman joined our faculty as Assistant Professor of Microbiology and Immunology in 1976, and was promoted to Associate Professor in 1980. Professor Brockman's research interests centered upon the viral genes that are required for malignant transformation of mammalian cells. Professor Brockman's work appeared in the major virology journals, he was the author of several influential review articles, and he was a regular contributor to international workshops and symposia on the molecular biology of animal viruses. 

His leadership role in this important area of contemporary biomedical research led to his service as a site visitor for the Special Program Advisory Committee of the National Cancer Institute, and as a member of the Experimental Virology Study Section for the National Cancer Institute. Professor Brockman's work had been supported continuously for the past eight years by the National Cancer Institute and he had just received funding for another three years at the time of his death.

Professor Brockman's course on the "Molecular Biology of Animal Viruses" was a major strength in the curriculum of the Microbiology and Immunology program. He also played a key role in the training of graduate students for the interdepartmental program in Cellular and Molecular Biology. His deep commitment to his science and his students was an inspiration to faculty and students alike.

Professor Brockman began spending his summers on farms in 1954 and throughout his years at Michigan farmed his land near Dexter. He also was a certified soil scientist and an active participant in community affairs.

Faculty, students, and friends will long remember Professor Brockman for his dedication to science, teaching, farming, and the community.


History of Brockman Memorial Lecture Speakers

1984 – 1985

  • Daniel Nathans, Johns Hopkins

  • Thomas J. Kelly, Jr., Johns Hopkins

  • William R. Folk, University of Texas, Austin

  • Robert G. Martin, Johns Hopkins

  • Mary Woodworth, Roswell Park Memorial Institute

1985 – 1986
Kenneth I. Burns, Cornell University

1987 – 1988
Robert E. Pollack, Columbia University

1988 – 1989
Arnold J. Levine, Princeton University

1989 – 1990
David M. Livingston, Dana Farber Cancer Institute

1990 – 1991
Carol L. Prives, Columbia University

1991 – 1992
Joan S. Brugge, University of Pennsylvania

1992 – 1993
James L. Manley, Columbia University

1993 – 1994
James M. Pipas, University of Pittsburgh

1994 – 1995: 10-year Memorial

  • Thomas J. Kelly, Jr., Johns Hopkins

  • William R. Folk, University of Missouri, Columbia

  • Arnold J. Berk, University of California, Los Angeles

  • Ed Harlow, Massachusetts General Hospital

1995 – 1996
Elliot Kieff, Harvard University

1996 – 1997
Thomas E. Shenk, Princeton University

1997 – 1998
Bill Sugden, University of Wisconsin – Madison

1998 – 1999
Peter Howley, Harvard University

1999 – 2000
Patricia Spear, Northwestern University

2000 – 2001
Peter S. Kim, MIT

2001 – 2002
Thomas J. Kelly, Jr., Johns Hopkins

2002 – 2003
Janet S. Butel, Baylor College of Medicine

2003 – 2004
Inder Verma, Salk Institute

2004 – 2005
Stephen Goff, Columbia University

2006 – 2007
Charles Rice, Rockefeller University

2007 – 2008
Thomas L. Benjamin, Harvard University

2008 – 2009
Karla Kirkegaard, Stanford University

2009 – 2010: 25th Memorial

  • Hung Fan, University of California, Irvine

  • Dr. Paul Lambert, University of Wisconsin

  • Dr. Stan Lemon, University of Texas Medical Branch

  • Dr. Jim Pipas, University of Pittsburgh

2010 – 2011
Peter Palese, Mount Sinai School of Medicine

2011 – 2012
Lynn W. Enquist, Princeton University

2012 – 2013
Paul Ahlquist, University of Wisconsin – Madison

2013 – 2014
Stuart Nichol, Centers for Disease Control & Prevention

2014 – 2015
Laimonis A. Laimins, Northwestern University

2015 – 2016
Julie Overbaugh, Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center

2016 – 2017
Roz Sandri-Goldin, University of California, Irvine

2017 – 2018
Herbert W. ‘Skip’ Virgin, IV, Washington University at St. Louis

2018 – 2019
Douglas Lowy, National Cancer Institute

2019 – 2020
Mary Estes, Baylor University (Postponed due to COVID-19)

2021 – 2022
Mary Estes, Baylor University

2022 – 2023
Beatrice Hahn, University of Pennsylvania

2023 – 2024
Pei-Yong Shi, University of Texas Medical Branch

The Heritage lecture is given annually by an outstanding scientist who trained in the Department of Microbiology and Immunology (as a student or postdoc) and who has moved on to a highly successful career elsewhere. The intention of this lectureship is to give the current generation of Microbiology and Immunology trainees (and faculty) an opportunity to meet and interact with former trainees who have carved successful career paths, and to allow the invitees a chance to reconnect with the department.

History of Heritage Lecture Speakers

2009 – 2010
Darren Higgins, Harvard University

2010 – 2011
Paul Allen, Washington University - St. Louis 

2011 – 2012
Brian K. Hammer, Georgia Institute of Technology

2012 – 2013
Julie Pfeiffer, University of Texas - Southwestern Medical Center

2013 – 2014
John Petrini, Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center - New York

2014 – 2015
Chelsea Lane, AAAS Science and Technology Policy Fellow, NIH NIAID

2015 – 2016
David Hendrixson, University of Texas Southwestern

2016 – 2017
Aleksandra Sikora, Oregon State University

2017 – 2018
Adam Hoppe, South Dakota State University

2018 – 2019
Robert Blumenthal, University of Toledo

2019 – 2020
I-Cheng Ho, Harvard University

2020 – 2021
J-D Sauer, University of Wisconsin - Madison

2021 – 2022
Lisa Gralinski, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

2022 – 2023
Erin Garcia, University of Kentucky

2023 – 2024
Joe Zackular, University of Pennsylvania

In May of 1988, Frances Willison Bishop, Ph.D, established the "Dr. Clayton Willison and Emma Elizabeth Willison Fund" in memory of her parents, as a trust with the University of Michigan. The purpose of the fund is to "benefit the Department of Microbiology and Immunology for research in the cause, prevention, and control of disease and for honorariums for one guest lecture each year in the field of microbiology and immunology, which lectures shall be known as the Willison Lectureship."

Dr. Bishop was born in 1898, and received her B.A. degree from the University of Michigan, School of Literature, Science, and the Arts in 1921. She received her Ph.D degree from the University of Michigan Department of Microbiology in 1942. The title of her dissertation was "The Effect Produced In Vitro by Vitamin C on the Toxic and Antigenic Properties of Diphtheria Toxin". Dr. Bishop taught for 16 years at the University of Oklahoma. She passed away at the age of 95 in July of 1993.

History of Willison Lecture Speakers

1995 – 1996
James E. Darnell, Jr., Rockefeller University

1996 – 1997
Jonathan Beckwith, Harvard University 

1997 – 1998
Timothy A. Springer, Harvard Medical School

1998 – 1999
Hidde Ploegh, Harvard Medical School

1999 – 2000
Charles A. Janeway, Jr., Yale University Medical School

2000 – 2001
R. John Collier, Harvard Medical School

2001 – 2002
Ralph M. Steinman, Rockefeller University

2002 – 2003
Pamela J. Bjorkman, California Institute of Technology

2003 – 2004
Daniel A. Portnoy, University of California, Berkeley

2004 – 2005
Martin Gellert, National Institutes of Health

2005 – 2006
Bonnie Bassler, Princeton University

2006 – 2007
Laurie Glimcher, Harvard University

2007 – 2008
Carl Nathan, Weill Medical College

2008 – 2009
Ron Germain, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, NIH

2009 – 2010
Rulsan Medzhitov, Yale University

2010 – 2011
Jorge E. Galan, Yale University

2011 – 2012
Mark J. Shlomchik, Yale University

2012 – 2013
John Boothroyd, Stanford School of Medicine

2014 – 2015
Jenny Ting, University of North Carolina School of Medicine

2015 – 2016
Jeffrey Weiser, New York University-Langone Medical Center

2016 – 2017
Diane Mathis, Harvard Medical School

2017 – 2018
Ajit Varki. University of California-San Diego

2018 – 2019
Yasmine Belkaid, NIH - NIAID

2021 – 2022
Kate A. Fitzgerald, University of Massachusetts Medical School

2022 – 2023
Raif Geha, Harvard University

2023 – 2024
Steven Holland, NIAID/National Institutes of Health

On October 13, 2012, The Department of Microbiology & Immunology commemorated the renowned careers of two of our distinguished former faculty, Drs. Rolf Freter and Frederick Neidhardt, with an inaugural, annual symposium in their honor.

Frederick C. Neidhardt, PhD (1931 – 2016)

Dr. Frederick C. Neidhardt, the Frederick G. Novy Distinguished University Professor of Microbiology & Immunology, dedicated his career to both excellence in science and excellence in leadership and service.

Neidhardt’s research focused on gene regulation and the molecular physiology of bacterial growth. He was the first scientist to employ temperature-sensitive mutants in essential functions to analyze gene regulation in studies of bacterial physiology, and he is credited with establishing the field of microbial proteomics. He served as Editor-in-Chief of a treatise on the cellular and molecular biology of Escherichia coli, the most studied cell in biology.

Neidhardt’s leadership in microbiology was recognized with numerous awards and honors, including the Eli Lilly & Co. Award in Bacteriology and Immunology and the Alexander von Humboldt Senior U.S. Scientist Award from Germany, and election to the presidency of the American Society for Microbiology.

Neidhardt served as Chair of the Department of Microbiology & Immunology from 1970 – 1982; he then went on to serve as the Associate Dean for Faculty of the Medical School and later as U-M’s Vice President of Research. In these roles he facilitated the development of a mentorship system for junior faculty.

Rolf G. Freter, PhD (1926 – 2009)

Dr. Rolf G. Freter devoted his career to a thoughtful analysis of the microbe-human interaction. Born and educated in Germany, he began his work in the U.S. in Chicago and Philadelphia before making his way to Ann Arbor.

First intrigued by several seemingly inexplicable aspects of cholera, Freter tackled problems that intimidated others. As a result of his research, the world learned the importance of and the mechanism of local mucosal immunity in defense against intestinal pathogens. His early work with chemostats pioneered the field of polymicrobial bacteriology.

Joining the U-M faculty in 1966, Freter worked as a professor in the Department of Microbiology & Immunology until his retirement in 1996. He remained at the University as a professor emeritus until the time of his death in 2009. His colleagues marveled at his creativity and his work, and he inspired students by sharing his awe of the human-microbe cooperative encounter. A respected scientist and mentor, Freter was known for his scientific dedication and persistence, and he is greatly missed.

History of Neidhardt-Freter Lecture Speakers


  • Christopher Sassetti, University of Massachusetts

  • Ferric C. Fang, University of Washington


  • Andreas Baumler, University of California, Davis 

  • James Collins, University of Louisville


  • Vanessa Sperandio, University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center 

  • Tyrrell Conway, Oklahoma State University


  • Jorge Escalante-Semerena, University of Georgia

  • John Mekalanos, Harvard University


  • Andrew Goodman, Yale University

  • Christine Szymanski, University of Georgia

2016: ASM Historical Milestones in Microbiology

  • Manuela Raffatellu, University of California, San Diego

  • Samuel Miller, University of Washington


  • Susan Gottesman, NCI

  • Jeff F. Miller, University of California, Los Angeles


  • Laurie Comstock, University of Chicago

  • Richard Lenski, Michigan State University


  • Natalie C. J. Strynadka, University of British Columbia

  • John F. Rawls, Duke University


  • Neal Hammer, Michigan State University

  • Mariana Byndloss, Vanderbilt University


  • Trevor Moraes, University of Toronto

  • Bryan Bryson, MIT


  • Rafael Valdivia, Duke University

  • Cari Vanderpool, University of Illinois


  • Aaron Whiteley, University of Colorado at Boulder

This award honors Ward J. MacNeal (A.B. 1901, PhD 1904, MD 1905, Honorary Sc.D. 1939). This departmental award recognizes a Ph.D. dissertation for its overall scholarly credentials, degree of innovation, creativity, and insight, scope and importance of the work and effectiveness of the writing, including whether it is written in language that is reasonably understandable to readers in a variety of disciplines.

MacNeal Dissertation Award

This award honors Ward J. MacNeal, a pathologist who specialized in cancer research and was a noted authority on bacteria and phage. The award is given to a PhD graduate trainee from a pool of nominees each academic year.

Learn about the award