What do infectious diseases, cancer, allergies, and autoimmunity have in common? They all result from imperfect functioning of the immune system. When the immune system reacts too weakly, infectious pathogens and mutated tumor cells can escape elimination and lead to life-threatening diseases. On the other hand, when the immune system reacts too strongly, responses to a benign substance such as pollen can cause allergies, and responses to body tissues can cause autoimmune diseases. The immune system also limits the success of organ transplantation, since the foreign organ is rejected by an especially vigorous immune response. Research directed at studying the immune system can therefore have critical importance for many aspects of medical science. In addition, the immune system is a highly inter-dependent, developmentally regulated organ system that can be studied as an important model system in genetics, physiology, and cellular biochemistry.
Learn more about the research projects available in The Immunology Department.