The Immunology Research group is a high level exponent of the use of parasites to explore both immunological concepts and immunity to parasitic infection. Infections at mucosal surfaces are extraordinarily common, caused by pathogens ranging in size from microscopic bacteria and parasitic protozoa through to the large multicellular nematode parasites. Our research group employs a range of enteric pathogens as tools to probe the mucosal immune system, asking fundamental questions about the underlying cellular mechanisms which control and mediate immunity to infection and which regulate the pathology induced by infection.
Specifically we work with the intestinal nematode parasites Trichuris muris, Trichinella spiralis and Heligmosomoides spp , both as tools to dissect unanswered questions in immunology and as powerful laboratory models of human intestinal nematode infections, estimated to infect approximately one quarter of the world’s population. We also work with the intracellular protozoan parasite Toxoplasma gondii and intracellular bacteria Salmonella. Their use compliments our studies with large multicellular parasites and provides a very different type of enteric challenge.