Immunology looks at how the body fights off invasion by micro-organisms, and the ways vaccines protect us against disease. Immunology also looks at the genes which control immune responses, and at the many types of cells and molecules which cause both beneficial immune responses, and those not-so good ones such as asthma, allergy, transplant rejection and autoimmunity.
Immunological discoveries have been used not only to improve treatment of infections and in allergy and transplants, but also in the fight against cancer and AIDS.
Immunology is closely related to microbiology - the study of the smallest forms of life namely, bacteria, viruses, archaea, fungi and protozoa. These fascinating organisms impact our lives in many ways. On the negative side, they cause disease in humans, animals and plants; they spoil our food. However, micro-organisms are also of great benefit as they contribute to a better environment via recycling of organic wastes, maintenance of soil fertility and biodegradation of pollutants. Many foodstuffs, beverages, pharmaceuticals and other products of biotechnology are products of microbial action.
Fundamental principles of Chemistry and Biology provide a foundation for the study of Microbiology, while broad range of courses and numerous areas of specialisation are offered in Microbiology degrees to cater for the diverse interests of students. The study of Microbiology & Immunology at UNSW also has an integrated focus on the important connections of this discipline with associated disciplines, such as Genetics, Molecular Biology and Biotechnology.