Immunology is a branch of science that involves the study of the immune system in organisms, focusing on the physiological functioning of the immune system in states of health and disease. More specifically, immunology deals with immune system malfunctions and the physical, chemical and physiological characteristics of immune system components in vitro, in situ, and in vivo. Anyone with allergies has personal experience with immune system malfunction, but allergies are so common that we tend to forget that allergy symptoms are an expression of an immune response gone haywire. A good course in immunology will cover the following topics:

  • Nomenclature, general properties, and immune system components
  • Innate immunity
  • Antigen capture and presentation to lymphocytes
  • Antigen recognition in the adaptive immune system
  • Cell-mediated immune responses
  • Effector mechanisms of cell-mediated immunity
  • Humoral immune responses
  • Immunological tolerance and autoimmunity
  • Immune responses against tumors and transplants
  • Hypersensitivity
  • Congenital and acquired immunodeficiencies

Students should follow articles published in The Journal of Immunology. An excellent list of immunology textbooks has been compiled by Eric Martz of the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. Additional books can be obtained from Amazon.com and Google. Finally, an excellent tutorial in immunology has been made available by the University of Arizona.

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