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Immunology and Infectious Diseases

Immunology and Infectious Diseases

An interdisciplinary program offering research opportunities and instruction in a range of related fields including cancer immunology, immune mediated diseases, infectious disease dynamics, and viral, bacterial, and parasitic pathogenesis

Application Deadline:  December 31

Program overview

  • Explore the mechanisms by which infectious agents circumvent the normal immune response
  • Investigate the development and function of immune cells
  • Identify novel therapeutic targets for controlling immunity and inflammation.

The Immunology and Infectious Disease Graduate Program offers opportunities to work with nationally and internationally recognized faculty in a variety of research areas such as host pathogen interactions, disease modeling, and the regulation of immune responses. The scope of the research is from the molecular to the cellular to the whole organism to the population and includes investigators in very diverse disciplines. Students are encouraged to work across disciplines and to choose dual advisors. The program:

  • Offers an individually tailored program of study and research to suit your interests, developed in conjunction with your faculty mentor.
  • Generates a multidisciplinary approach to immunology, including virology, microbiology, nutrition, biochemistry, cell biology, molecular biology, toxicology, chemistry and bioengineering.
  • Utilizes Penn State's state-of-the-art microscopy, tissue culture, mouse, and proteomics and bioinformatics facilities.
  • Presents a variety of exciting courses taught by research faculty in their areas of specialization.
  • Provides students with a sound understanding of important concepts in immunology and disease.
  • Prepares you for a rewarding career in biomedical research in academia, pharmaceutical companies, private research foundations, governmental research and regulatory agencies.

Faculty research interests include:

  • Cancer immunology: the response of the host to cancer and strategies to improve tumor surveillance.
  • Immune-mediated diseases: research into allergic asthma and other autoimmune diseases (diabetes, multiple sclerosis, and inflammatory bowel diseases) at the cellular and molecular level.
  • Infectious disease pathology. The response of the host to infection at the genetic, molecular, and cellular levels.
  • Infectious disease dynamics. Epidemiological modeling, evolutionary biology, ecology, and population dynamics.
  • Viral, bacterial, and parasitic pathogenesis: determining the tools pathogens use for transmission, infection and survival and ways to overcome them (vaccine, drug development)

Financial aid

Research programs are well-supported by grants from private and public funds, particularly from the National Institutes of Health. All students admitted to the Ph.D. program receive financial aid (stipends and paid tuition costs), and allowing full time for graduate studies.

Faculty Spotlight
Associate Professor of Molecular Immunology and Infectious Diseases
For the first time, a team of Penn State chemists and engineers – including Huck Institutes faculty scientist Tony Jun Huang – has placed tiny synthetic motors inside live human cells, propelled them with ultrasonic waves and steered them magnetically. Nanomotors are controlled, for the first time, inside living cells - Full article
Huck Institutes faculty researchers Ottar Bjørnstad, Margherita Cantorna, and Joan Richtsmeier are among the eight Penn State faculty members recently named distinguished professors. Three Huck Institutes faculty among eight named distinguished professors - Full article
Eleven students in the Huck Institutes' intercollege graduate degree programs (IGDPs) have been awarded $5,000 each to advance their research. Announcing the Huck Institutes Graduate Enrichment Fund 2013 awardees - Full article
Upcoming events
Apr 24, 2014 Thursday 11:00 AM
Deborah Gordon (Stanford University)
Ants and the evolution of collective behavior.
May 1, 2014 Thursday 11:00 AM
Janice Moore (Colorado State University)
Evolution and ecology of parasite-induced behavioral alterations.