The immune system

The immune system

Immunology is the science of the immune system, the body’s defence against infection. From birth to death, we are bombarded with potential infectious threats that require a complex network of monitoring and defence. However, the immune system can both damage and protect. The incidence of autoimmune disease, allergy and cancer is rising year on year. It is increasingly important that we understand how the balance between health and disease is maintained given the rise in both inflammatory diseases (such as diabetes and Crohn’s) and global infections such as Swine Flu and malaria.

Why study Immunology?

Immunology weaves like a thread through health and disease; it is an essential part of understanding disease susceptibility, progression and healing, from basic mechanisms right through to drug development and treatment. There are many questions in Immunology that remain unanswered and it is certain there are many new pathways yet to be discovered. Although Jenner successfully proved his ground breaking vaccination principle with smallpox in 1796, T and B cells were not formally defined until 1971 by Jacques Miller (WEHI, Australia). Only in 2007, the 35th interleukin was discovered, undoubtedly not the last. Immunology remains an exciting, broad discipline with applications throughout biology, biomedicine, clinical medicine, genetics and drug design. We are at the cutting edge of both basic science and clinical medicine.