Did you know that the 2011 Nobel Prize in Medicine was awarded to three immunologists? Did you know that it is not just students of medicine who can study immunology? And that you can study the subject even through a basic science degree?
Immunology, the study of pathogens, antigens and antibodies, is a thriving field of specialisation which is in much demand across the globe. As we all know, prevention is better than cure. Preventive medicine or the injecting of antibodies to prevent a disease requires great amount of research and study. Many universities abroad offer both bachelors as well as master’s degrees in science with a specialisation in immunology. Some offer M.D and Ph.D courses in the subject too. So there are two ways you can study immunology- either through a science or medical course.
For those of you opting for a Bachelor’s of Science degree in immunology, a sound grounding in maths, chemistry and biology will help you deal with the coursework better. If you are looking at applying for a master’s degree in immunology, you will be required to have completed formal courses in immunology, biochemistry, or cell biology.
About the programme
A course in immunology at the undergraduate level introduces you to the study of the immune system, and exposes you to pathological processes and their morphologic, molecular and genetic bases which are associated with immune based disease. The course equips you with a range of specialised knowledge and skills in applying scientific concepts, evaluating scientific data and carrying out modern immunological techniques.
As a graduate, you will gain an understanding of the basic principles of host immunity to infection against the diverse range of pathogens which confront human populations. You will be able to apply this specialist knowledge to a range of practical skills and techniques, in particular modern molecular and cellular techniques for assessing immune responses to pathogens.
The master’s programme provides the necessary theoretical preparation for microbiological and immunological careers and exposes you to research activities in these fields. Most of these programmes aim to train students in preparation for microbiological and immunological positions in industry, teaching positions, and further doctoral study. Graduate students acquire a wide range of research experience in the first year through exposure to a variety of research laboratories and investigators.
One of the major applications of immunology is in the vaccine-making sector. The programme opens up careers in diagnostics, molecular biology, biotechnology and regulation, and research into infectious agents associated with immune based pathology. It will also prepare you for further study in medical and paramedical disciplines.
Where to study
Some of the leading universities in the US, UK and Australia which offer courses in immunology are: