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Immunology and Infectious Diseases

Please Note: Program Changes

The Immunology and Infectious Diseases program is now an emphasis area within Molecular, Cellular and Integrative Biosciences and is not accepting students for fall 2015; please go to the Molecular, Cellular and Integrative Biosciences site to learn more about this new program and apply.

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

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
Assistant Professor of Bioengineering
Immunology and Infectious Diseases Ph.D. candidate Emily Finch and faculty researcher Dr. Sandeep Prabhu study relationships between diet and disease. Video profile: Emily Finch & Sandeep Prabhu - Full article
Genetics Ph.D. candidate Elyse Muñoz and faculty researcher Dr. Scott Lindner study the malaria parasite. Video profile: Elyse Muñoz & Scott Lindner - Full article
Precise, gentle and efficient cell separation from a device the size of a cell phone may be possible thanks to tilt-angle standing surface acoustic waves, according to a team of engineers that includes Huck Institutes faculty researcher Tony Jun Huang. Tilted acoustic tweezers separate cells gently - Full article
Upcoming events
Oct 30, 2014 Thursday 11:00 AM
Firdaus Dhabhar (Stanford University School of Medicine)
A Hassle A Day May Keep The Doctor Away: Protective Versus Harmful Effects Of Stress On Immune Function
Nov 6, 2014 Thursday 11:00 AM
Janice Moore (Colorado State University)
Parasites, Behavior, and Thinking Like a Trematode
Nov 13, 2014 Thursday 11:00 AM
Nilam Ram (Penn State)
Trying to Connect The Leopard's Spots: Using Reaction-Diffusion Models to Study Individuals' Emotion Regulation