For a better experience, click the Compatibility Mode icon above to turn off Compatibility Mode, which is only for viewing older websites.

Donna Russo

Donna Russo, PhD

Interim Vice Dean for Educational Affairs, Professor, Senior Associate Dean for Curriculum, William Maul Measey Chair in Medical Education

Department: Microbiology & Immunology


  • PhD - Hahnemann University (1989)

Awards & Honors

  • Golden Apple Award for Excellence in Teaching (2018)
  • Core discipline director and team leader for microbiology for the MedU Science Collaboration

Currently, my full time focus is education. I participate in education at various levels from instructor and course designer to medical education innovator and scholar. As senior associate dean for the MD program curriculum and the department course director for medical microbiology, I play a central role in the educational experience given to medical students. The field of medical education is constantly evolving to meet the challenges of training future physicians in an arena of exploding knowledge but a fixed training time. In particular, the time devoted to basic science education is more limited and thus requires a great deal of flexibility and innovation to ensure coverage of the most important content areas. My scholarly interests in this area include studying the effectiveness of specific curricular and teaching innovations, including DxR Clinician to develop clinical reasoning skills and integrate relevant basic and clinical science topics, the use of electronic testing to incorporate multi-dimensional items into testing, team-based learning to facilitate active learning in large group settings, and teaching and evaluating professionalism in the pre-clinical medical program.

I enjoy interacting with graduate students, particularly providing interested students with the opportunity to teach. There are opportunities for interested graduate students, postdoctoral fellows and senior medical students to participate in teaching medical or graduate students at a variety of levels including tutoring, facilitating laboratory/conference sections and lecturing. Interested students will receive a teaching experience tailored to their future career goals and interests. The educational experience is carefully constructed and includes coaching prior to interacting with students, and extensive feedback after a teaching session. In this way, students/fellows to gain teaching experience in a non-threatening and constructive manner. This unique experience allows students to explore a possible interest in teaching as well as gain some teaching skills that may enhance or broaden their future professional opportunities.

Research Interests

Senior associate dean of the medical school curriculum; department thread director for microbiology


During the time that I had an active basic science research program, my primary research interest was human T cell regulation in response to intracellular pathogens of macrophages, including Leishmania and Mycobacterium. Studies in my laboratory focused on the cytokine signals influencing T cell differentiation into Th1 or cytotoxic effector cells in response to natural infection or immunization with these pathogens using a human in vitro model system. I still maintain a strong interest in the areas of T cell subset regulation and pathogenesis of intracellular infections. These topics are frequently the subjects that I teach to graduate students.

In the Media


Selected Publications

"Regulation of Ag85 human T cell responses in an in vitro model of Mycobacterium tuberculosis infection"
Russo DM, Kozlova N, Lakey D, Edwards K, and D Kernodle
Infection and Immunity, 68: 6826-6832, 2000

"Naive human T cells sensitized with Leishmania antigen and IL-12 develop into potent Th1 and CTL effecters."
Russo DM, Chardrabarti P, and A Dunlapp-Higgins
Experimental Parasitism, 93: 161-167, 1999

"Naive human T cells develop into Th1 or Th2 effectors and exhibit cytotoxicity early after stimulation with Leishmania infected macrophages"
Russo DM, Charkrabarrti P, and JM Burns Jr.
Journal of Infectious Diseases, 177: 1345-1351, 1998.

"Interleukin-10 mediates susceptibility to Trypanosoma cruzi infections"
Reed S, Brownell C, Russo DM, deSilva F, Grabstein K, and P Morrissey
The Journal of Immunology, 153: 3135-3140, 1994.

"Granulocyte-macrophage colony stimulatong factor in combination with pentavalent antimony for the treatment of visceral leishmaniaisis"
Badaro R, Nascimento C, Carvalho J, Badaro F, Russo DM, Ho J, Reed S, Johnson W, and T Jones
European Journal of Clinical Microbiology & Infectious Diseases, 13: 23-28, 1994

"Recombinant human granuolcyte macrophage stimulating factor reverses neutropenia and reduces secondary infections in visceral leishmaniasis"
Badaro R, Nascimento C, Carvalho J, Russo DM, Ho J, Reed S, Johnson W, and T Jones
Journal of Infectious Diseases, 170: 413-417, 1994

"Human T cell responses in Leishmania infections."
Russo DM, Barral-Netto M, Barral A, and SG Reed
Progress in Clinical Parasitology Springer-Verlag, ed. Sung, T. 119-144, 1993

"Antigen reactive T cells in human leishmaniasis"
Russo DM, Armitage R, Barral-Netto M, Grabstein K, and SG Reed
The Journal of Immunology, 151: 3712-18, 1993

"Interleuken 10 production correlates with pathology in human Leishmania donovani infections"
Ghalib H, Puivezam MR, Skeiky YAW, Siddig M, Hashim FA, El-Hassan AM, Russo DM, and SG Reed
Journal of Clinical Investigation, 92: 324-29-8, 1993

"Characterization of responses of normal human T cells to T. cruzi antigens"
Piuvezam MR, Russo DM, Burns Jr., JM, Grabstein KH, and SG Reed.
The Journal of Immunology, 150: 916-924, 1993

"Mapping human T cell epitopes in Leishmania gp63; Identification of cross-reactive and species specific epitopes"
Russo D.M., Jardim A, Carvalho E, Sleath P, Armitage R, Olafson R, and S.G. Reed.
The Journal of Immunology, 150: 932, 1993

"Stimulation of human T lymphocytes by Leishmania lipophosphoglycan-associated proteins"
Russo DM, Turco SJ, Burns Jr. JM, and SG Reed
The Journal of Immunology, 148: 202, 1992


"Development of a Medical Spanish Elective for Medical Students Guided by Survey of Students’ Interest"
Varjavand N and D Russo
AAMC, November 2017

"Students Hold Peers to the Same Standard of Professionalism as They Do Faculty"
Schindler B, Rabuck C, Duke P, Fuchs A, Larson K, Russo D and B Landau
AAMC, November 2015

"Assessing non-cognitive attributes in medical school applicants on interview day using and on-site essay"  Russo DM, Kennedy K, Hanau C and B Schindler
AMEE, September 2015

"Value of an essay on interview day to assess non-cognitive attributes in medical school applicants"
Russo DM, Kennedy K, Parrish S, and B Schindler
AAMC, November 2009

"Measuring Professionalism: Finding the Holy Grail"
Russo DM
2007 Program for Educators in the Health Professions, Abstract #40, May 2007

Contact Information

Department of Microbiology & Immunology
2900 W. Queen Lane
Philadelphia, PA 19129
Phone: 215.991.8556
Fax: 215.843.6530