Michael Imperiale, Ph.D.

Arthur F. Thurnau Professor of Microbiology and Immunology


Dr. Michael Imperiale is a Professor in the Department of Microbiology and Immunology at the University of Michigan Medical School. He joined the department in 1984 as the Arthur F. Thurnau Assistant Professor of Microbiology and Immunology and was subsequently promoted to Associate Professor in 1990 and Professor in 1996. He is currently the Arthur F. Thurnau Professor and Associate Chair of Microbiology and Immunology. Since 2017, he has also served as UM Associate Vice President for Research. In 2010 Dr. Imperiale was elected as a Fellow of the American Academy of Microbiology and in 2011 he was elected as a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

Before joining the University of Michigan, Dr. Imperiale carried out research training as a postdoctoral fellow at The Rockefeller University, where he first became interested in DNA tumor viruses, studying gene regulation in the human pathogen, adenovirus. He received his undergraduate and graduate training at Columbia University, receiving a B.A. in 1976, M.A. in 1978, and Ph.D. in 1981, all in biological sciences. Currently, Dr. Imperiale’s research interests focus on the study of how DNA tumor viruses interact with the host cell.

Dr. Imperiale was appointed in 2015 as the founding Editor-in-Chief of the American Society for Microbiology journal, mSphere, and is an editor of mBio. Dr. Imperiale is also involved in national and international activities relating to science policy. He currently serves on the Committee on Science, Technology, and Law at the National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine.

Research Interests

We study the molecular biology of the small DNA tumor virus, BK polyomavirus (BKPyV), which causes significant disease in transplant recipients including cancer patients undergoing BMT. In addition, recent evidence suggests a causative role for BKPyV in urinary tract cancers in transplant recipients.




Broekema, N.M. and Imperiale, M.J. (2013). miRNA regulation of BK polyomavirus replication during early infection. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 110:8200-8205.

Bennett, S.M., Jiang, M., and Imperiale, M.J. (2013). Role of cell type-specific ER-associated degradation in polyomavirus trafficking. J. Virol. 87:8843-8852.

DeCaprio, J.A., Imperiale, M.J., and Major, E.O. (2013). Polyomaviruses. In: D.M. Knipe, P.M. Howley, J.I. Cohen, D.E. Griffin, R.A. Lamb, M.A. Martin, V.R. Racaniello, and B. Roizman (eds.): Fields Virology, 6th Edition, Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Philadelphia.

Casadevall, A., Enquist, L., Imperiale, M.J., Osterholm, M., Relman, D.A., and Keim, P. (2013). Redaction of sensitive data in the publication of dual use research of concern. mBio 5(1):e00991-13. doi:10.1128/mBio.00991-13.

Imperiale, M.J. (2014). Polyomavirus miRNAs: the beginning. Curr. Opin. Virol. 7:29-32.

Casadevall, A., Dermody, T.S., Imperiale, M.J., Sandri-Goldin, R.M., and Shenk, T.E. (2014). On the need for a national board to assess dual use research of concern (DURC). J. Virol. 88:6535-6537.

Casadevall A, Imperiale MJ. (2014). Risks and benefits of gain-of-function experiments with pathogens of pandemic potential, such as influenza virus: a call for a science-based discussion. mBio 5(4):e01730-14. doi:10.1128/mBio.01730-14.

Casadevall A, Howard D, Imperiale MJ. (2014). An epistemological perspective on the value of gain-of-function experiments involving pathogens with pandemic potential. mBio 5(5):e01875-14. doi:10.1128/mBio.01875-14.

Casadevall A, Howard D, Imperiale MJ. (2014). The apocalypse as a rhetorical device in the influenza virus gain-of-function debate. mBio 5(5):e02062-14. doi:10.1128/mBio.02062-14.

Imperiale, M.J. and Casadevall, A. (2014). The vagueness and costs of the pause on gain-of-function (GOF) experiments on pathogens with pandemic potential including influenza virus. mBio 5(6):e02292-14. doi:10.1128/mBio.02292-14.

Bennett, S.M., Zhao, L., Bosard, C., and Imperiale, M.J. (2015). Role of a nuclear localization signal on the minor capsid proteins VP2 and VP3 in BKPyV nuclear entry. Virology 474:110-116.

Imperiale, M.J. and Jiang, M. (2015). What DNA viral genomic rearrangements tell us about persistence. J. Virol. 89:1948-1950.

Duprex, W.P., Fouchier, R.A.M., Imperiale, M.J., Lipsitch, M., and Relman, D.A. (2015). Gain-of-function experiments: time for a real debate. Nature Rev. Microbiol. 13:58-64. doi:10.1038/nrmicro3405.

Imperiale M.J. and Casadevall, A. (2015). The importance of virology at a time of great need and great jeopardy. mBio 6(2):e00236-15.

Verhalen B., Justice, J.L., Imperiale, M.J., and Jiang, M. (2015). Viral DNA replication-dependent DNA damage response activation during BK polyomavirus infection. J. Virol. 89:5032-5039.

Imperiale, M.J. and Casadevall, A. (2015). A new synthesis for dual use research of concern. PLoS Med 12(4): e1001813. doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1001813.

Verhaegen, M.E., Mangelberger, D., Harms, P.W., Vozheiko, T.D., Weick, J.W., Wilbert, D.M., Saunders, T.L., Ermilov, A.N., Bichakjian, C.K., Johnson, T.M., Imperiale, M.J., and Dlugosz, A.A. (2015). Merkel cell polyomavirus small T antigen is oncogenic in transgenic mice. J. Inv. Dermatol. 135, 1415–1424.