Department of Immunology
Immunology is the study of biological systems used to defend the body against microbial pathogens such as bacteria, viruses, parasites and fungi. Evolution over the past several million years has equipped the immune system with a set of pattern recognition receptors, including the Toll-like receptors (TLRs), to distinguish self from microbial pathogens. The innate immune response, a first line of defense, is initiated by signaling through the TLRs, by bacteria DNA, lipoproteins and polysaccharides, as well as viral RNA. Triggering TLRs activates antigen presenting cells (APCs) to upregulate costimulatory molecules and secrete cytokines, which allow these APCs to initiate immune responses.
The other arm of the immune system is the adaptive immune response, which uses antigen-specific receptors called antibodies and T-cell receptors (TCRs), found on B cells and T cells, respectively. These specific receptors drive highly efficient immunological responses that possess memory.
The goal of MD Anderson's Department of Immunology is to perform multidisciplinary research and educational activities in basic and cancer immunology.
The new Center for Cancer Immunology Research (CCIR) is one of the six collaborative programs in biomedical research that make up the McCombs Institute for the Early Detection and Treatment of Cancer. The CCIR state-of-the-art facility for immunology research provides a platform for integrating basic and clinical immunology research programs.
Through our commitment to research and education, we hope to train future generations of high-caliber immunologists, as well as to advance knowledge of cancer, the immune system and how to direct the immune system toward eradicating cancer.