John A. Burns School of Medicine
651 Ilalo Street
Honolulu, HI 96813
Tel: (808) 692-1600


*Graduate Faculty

*V. R. Nerurkar, PhD (Chair)—pathogenesis of infectious diseases, delineating cellular and molecular mechanisms underlying microbehost interaction
*S. P. Chang, PhD (Graduate Chair)—immunology, molecular biology, molecular approaches to vaccine development
C. Bumanglag, PhD—sexual and gender minority health disparities; HIV/AIDS health disparities; electronic health records of sexual and gender minority patients
*W. L. Gosnell, PhD—host parasite interactions, malaria, immunology
*G. S. N. Hui, PhD—parasitology, immunology, cell biology
*K J. Kallianpur Tata, PhD—brain imaging, neuroAIDS, HIVassociated neurocognitive disorder
*P. H. Kaufusi, PhD—pathogenesis of West Nile virus
I. Kimura, PhD—kinesiology; exercise for elderly and HIV/AIDS patients
*A. T. Lehrer, PhD—filoviruses, flaviviruses, molecular biology, protein chemistry and vaccines
*I. MacPherson, PhD—HIV/AIDS molecular biology and biochemistry*
J. K. P. Mcmillan, PhD—immunology, vaccine development, one health
J. Park, PhD—regulation of the development and progression of fibrosis; fibroblast-dependent regulation of inflammation
*A. Sy, DrPH—community-based research, Asian & Pacific Islander communities
*S. Verma, PhD—pathogenesis of flaviviruses and 3D models to study viral infections
*W-K. Wang, MD, ScD—pathogenesis of arboviral and zoonotic viruses, flavivirus diagnostics and vaccines
*A. A. Yanagihara, PhD—biochemistry of cubozoan venom

Professor Emeritus

V. Hinshaw, PhD—influenza virus epidemiology; pathogenicity, immunology and vaccines
F. D. Miller, PhD—epidemiology of infectious diseases
L. Tam, PhD—medical microbiology
D. W. Taylor—immunology of malaria in pregnant women and newborns, and global health
K. Yamaga—Streptococcus pyogenes and immunology
R. Yanagihara, MD, MPH—pediatric infectious diseases, emerging infectious diseases, community involvement, Puipuia le Ola

Cooperating Graduate Faculty

J. M. Berestecky, PhD—enteric bacteria
J. J. Chen, PhD—biostatistics
Y. Deng, PhD—bioinformatics, biomedical informatics, computational biology; data science
B. Hernandez, PhD—human papilloma virus, hepatitis virus, viral carcinogenesis, epidemiology
T. T. Hoang, PhD— pathogenesis of Pseudomonas aeruginosa
V. S. Khadka, PhD—bioinformatics
Y. Lu, PhD—gene therapy for HIV-1 infection, gene transfer approaches for neuroAIDS, immunodiagnosis of herpesvirus infection of green turtles, aquaculture virology
M. E. Melish, MD—staphylococcal infection and toxins, clinical infectious disease, Kawasaki syndrome
S. Prisic, PhD—molecular pathogenesis of myobacterium tuberculosis
R. Yanagihara, MD—transdisciplinary investigations of emerging and re-emerging infectious diseases, use of infectious agents as biological markers to trace ancient and recent movements of human populations

Adjunct Faculty

M. A. Agsalda, PhD—HIV/AIDS and associated co-morbidities
V. E. Ansdell, MD—tropical and infectious diseases and clinical microbiology
*S. N. Bennett, PhD—molecular evolution and epidemiology of emerging infectious diseases
J. R. Campbell, PhD—global health infectious diseases and military medicine
A. A. Effler (Imrie), PhD—dengue immunology and epidemiology
B. R. Ellis, PhD—arbovirus and virus-vector interrelationships
A. F. Garcia, PhD—infectious diseases and characterizing monoclonal antibodies
D. J. Grab, PhD—parasitology, arbovirology and diagnostics
J. F. Kelley, PhD—pathogenesis of flaviviruses
J. Kim, MD—HIV vaccine development
M. Le Pape, PhD—health management Information Systems and informatics
I. N. Sah Bandar, MD—HIV/AIDS, molecular epidemiology
M. A. Washington, PhD—global health infectious diseases and military medicine
C. F. Yamauchi, PhD—global health infectious diseases and military medicine

Affiliate Graduate Faculty

B. A. Fujimoto PhD—cell biology, diabetes, immunology
J. Honda, PhD—nontuberculous mycobacteria
S. A. Honda, PhD—pathology, diagnostic imaging, pharmacogenomics, genetic/molecular research, cancer research, comparative effectiveness and care delivery
E. Kamau, PhD, LTC, MS—new diagnostics, infection prevention, antimicrobial stewardship, malaria, drug resistance, sexually transmitted diseases
*K. Kramer, PhD—parasitology, epidemiology, leptospirosis, HIV serdiagnosis
M. Kumar, PhD—arboviruses, zoonotic viruses; delineating cellular and molecular mechanisms underlying virus-host interaction
M. Lieberman, PhD—infectious disease; immunology
K. L. Palmer, PhD—global public health and tropical diseases
C. Shikuma, MD—infectious diseases, AIDS
*B. Shiramizu, MD—pathology of HIV-associated disorders (retired)
*A. C. Y. Tseng, PhD—SARS-CoV-2 genomic surveillance and antibody responses, flaviviruses, molecular biology

Degrees Offered: MS in biomedical sciences (tropical medicine), Graduate Certificate in tropical medicine, PhD in biomedical sciences (tropical medicine)

The Academic Program

Tropical medicine was originally defined as the study of diseases that occur more commonly in the tropical regions of the world. However, in today’s era of globalization and modern transportation, diseases that were once confined to the tropics have spread geographically and play a significant role in the global resurgence of infectious diseases. As such, research in the area of tropical medicine and medical microbiology has greatly increased in importance in the past 20 years. Tropical medicine faculty conduct studies on infectious organisms and the diseases they cause, including dengue, Ebola, West Nile, AIDS, hepatitis, viral and bacterial encephalitis, malaria, tuberculosis, SARS-CoV-2, and Kawasaki disease. The faculty employs a multidisciplinary approach, including immunology, pathogenesis, ecology, epidemiology, diagnosis, prevention, control, treatment, socio-ecological systems, human ecology, microbial and vector ecology, environmental change, and participatory action research to answer fundamental questions associated with these diseases. These studies can be laboratory-based, field-based, clinic-based, or include a combination of all three. The field of tropical medicine requires knowledge of virology, bacteriology, parasitology, entomology, immunology, cell and molecular biology, bioinformatics, epidemiology, ecology, behavioral science, and clinical medicine.

Pharmacology is a medical science concerned with the effects of drugs and chemicals on living organisms. The subject embraces knowledge of the chemistry, actions, absorption, fate, excretion, and uses of drugs. Traditionally, the greatest interests in drugs have been with the health professions. Today, however, knowledge of pharmacology and the allied field of toxicology are relevant to all segments of society.

Undergraduate and Graduate Study

The department offers courses for undergraduate, medical, and graduate students. Faculty participate in the MD program by providing tutorial and elective courses in medical microbiology, clinical immunology, molecular biology, pharmacology, and clinical aspects of tropical medicine and pharmacology. Electives for medical students are team taught and coordinated with unit objectives throughout the problem-based learning curriculum. In addition, the department plays an important role in the Basic Science Foundation course and participates in the Pathology Residency Program by offering rotations in selected aspects of medical virology, parasitology, and bacteriology. The department also offers a One Health curriculum for medical students interested in pursuing the Dean’s Certificate of Distinction in One Health and participates in the interdisciplinary Undergraduate Certificate in One Health.

Graduate Certificate

The graduate certificate in tropical medicine provides post-baccalaureate students and health professionals with a strong foundation in tropical infectious disease microbiology and immunology. Graduates with a Graduate Certificate in Tropical Medicine go on to pursue careers in technical and research positions in universities, government agencies, and biotechnology companies, or use the certificate knowledge base as a foundation for PhD and MD training programs.


Completion of the Graduate Certificate requires a minimum of 15 credit hours of course work in the subdisciplines of tropical medicine as well as a capstone project related to the student’s area of interest within the field of tropical infectious diseases. It is expected that students will complete the certificate degree program within 2 semesters of full-time enrollment.

Master’s Degree

Graduates with a master’s degree in tropical medicine have gone on to careers in science education at the secondary and college level, technical and research positions in universities, government agencies, and biotechnology companies, or have continued on in PhD and MD training programs at other universities.


The MS degree requires 21 credits of course work, nine credits of thesis research, completion of a thesis, and a final oral examination. A general examination, oral or written, is required before a student is advanced to candidacy for the MS (Plan A) degree. Although not encouraged, in very unusual circumstances, a non-thesis MS (Plan B) may be allowed. This program requires 30 credits of course work, a written examination, and participation in a research project.

Doctoral Degree

Graduates with a PhD degree have pursued professional research, teaching, and administrative careers at various academic institutions, state and federal government agencies, international health agencies, and biotechnology companies.


The tropical medicine PhD program requires course work as determined necessary by the student’s advisory committee, a qualifying examination, comprehensive examination, preparation of a written research proposal, dissertation, and a final oral examination/defense of dissertation. Students are encouraged to take course work covering a broad array of the disciplines involved in the field of tropical medicine, including course work offered by other academic departments as relevant to their area of concentration, such as diagnosis, molecular evolution, immunopathogenesis and vaccine development for SARS CoV-2 and COVID-19.


Department faculty conduct active research in the following areas:

  • virology and epidemiology of dengue, West Nile, and other flaviviruses
  • diagnostic assays for flaviviruses and SARS-CoV-2
  • vaccines against filoviruses including Ebola, Sudan, and Marburg
  • hantavirus virology and epidemiology
  • lentiviruses and polyomaviruses
  • pathobiology and immunology of HIV and other retroviruses
  • HIV-associated neurocognitive disorder and other chronic illnesses associated with HIV/AIDS
  • molecular epidemiology and evolution of viruses
  • malaria immunology and vaccine development
  • malaria in pregnancy, maternal, and childhood immunity to malaria
  • pathogenesis of mycobacterium tuberculosis and nontuberculous mycobacteria, and Pseudomonas aeruginosa
  • emerging and re-emerging infectious diseases

Collaboration with infectious disease clinicians and international research institutes further expand research opportunities in the areas of HIV/AIDS and associated comorbidities, viral hemorrhagic fevers including Ebola, Marburg, Lassa, dengue, hantavirus, and arboviruses such as West Nile virus, Zika virus, Japanese encephalitis virus, and diseases such as malaria, asthma, and Kawasaki disease. Research projects take place within the research laboratories in the department and at field sites in Africa, Asia, and the Pacific.

A major goal of the department is to provide Asian and Pacific countries the expertise needed to expand laboratory and epidemiologic capacity in tropical infectious diseases research. The department also has active research programs with several community hospitals and collaborates closely with the State of Hawai‘i Department of Health, providing instruction and expertise in bioterrorism preparedness, diagnosis of infectious diseases using the latest technology, and vaccination promotion.