Welcome to the Exercise Immunology and Microbe Group website



We're glad you're here! We are one of several groups housed in the T.K. Cureton Physical Fitness Research Laboratory that was established in 1944.

Our work focuses on how exercise affects the immune system, the gut microbiota, and the bi-directional communication between these systems and the brain. The broad goal of our research program is to generate a public health message regarding the effects of exercise and diet on health and disease.

Our experiments are designed to (1) describe the effects of different doses and types of exercise and targeted dietary factors the immune system and gut microbiota, (2) determine the mechanisms responsible for exercise- and diet-induced changes, (3) define the physiological significance of exercise- and diet-induced changes, and (4) explore the use of appropriate forms of exercise or dietary strategies as adjunct therapy in aging, obesity, or inflammatory bowel disease.

We use both humans and animal models in our research. We have found that exercise can protect mice from death due to influenza, speed wound healing, reduce inflammation and blood vessel density in growing tumors and attenuate colitis. We have shown that regular exercise can improve immune responses to vaccination in older adults. We hypothesize that exercise improves health by reducing acute and chronic inflammation. We also explore the additive and synergistic effects of exercise and targeted dietary supplementation on inflammation and cognitive dysfunction in aging. A recent focus has been on the effects of exercise on the gut microbiome and its role in mediating the beneficial effects of exercise where we have found that exercise exerts influence, independent of diet.

Our laboratory is fully equipped with state-of-the-art tissue culture facilities, equipment for biochemical measurements, animal telemetry, molecular biology, and clinical exercise and body composition testing. We enjoy collaborations with investigators in diverse fields such as veterinary medicine, psychology, molecular virology, immunology, animal sciences as well as kinesiology.

Interested in the hearing about the work we do? Watch Dr. Woods in this video:


Contact us

  • Exercise Immunology and Microbe Group
  • Department of Kinesiology and Community Health
  • Huff Office: 1008 Huff Hall, 1206 South Fourth Street, Champaign, IL 61820
  • Email: woods1@illinois.edu