The UCSF Immunology Training Program (ITP) encompasses 49 laboratories engaged in molecular, cellular, and in vivo immunology and actively training ~250 graduate and postdoctoral scientists. Areas of active research encompass the full breadth of contemporary immunology including mechanisms of innate immune recognition; lymphocyte and myeloid cell biology, adhesion and migration; cytokine expression and in vivo function; lymphocyte selection and differentiation; regulatory T cell function; cytotoxic T cell and NK cell function; microRNA regulation of immune cell function; in vivo mechanisms of autoimmunity, allergy, and inflammatory diseases; human immunodeficiency; tumor immunology and immunotherapy; immune cell engineering; and immune defense against infectious agents including malaria, helminths, Histoplasma, Tuberculosis, and HIV. Over the past 34 years, a vital graduate training program leading to the Ph.D. has been developed by ITP faculty and has been supported by this training grant for the past 30 years. This program is designed to provide a solid background in genetics, cell biology, molecular biology, mammalian tissue and organ biology and quantitative approaches in biology, as well as thorough training in modern immunology. The interdisciplinary nature of this training is enhanced by the tight affiliation of the ITP with the UCSF Biomedical Sciences Program (BMS), an interdisciplinary graduate program that also includes the study of infectious agents and inflammatory processes as well as other aspects of mammalian tissue/organ development, function, and disease. In addition to formal coursework and thesis research, the ITP includes an active weekly seminar series of outside immunology speakers, both Immunology and BMS student-faculty journal clubs, an annual Immunology Retreat (held jointly with UC Berkeley immunologists), and seminar courses on advanced immunological topics. These activities provide an excellent training environment for postdoctoral fellows as well as for graduate students. Postdoctoral training is additionally enhanced by a research-in-progress seminar series and a postdoctoral mentoring program.
Immunology is the study of the immune system, the major natural purpose of which is to defend us against infections. Additionally, it has been found that the immune system protects us from cancer, but when dysregulated causes tissue damage in autoimmune, allergic, and inflammatory diseases, and contributes importantly to the tissue damage and loss of function in a number of chronic diseases including atherosclerosis (heart disease and stroke), type 2 diabetes, and probably several degenerative neurological diseases such as Alzheimer's disease. This training program trains the next generation of scientists to study the immune system and develop new therapeutic approaches for its modulation as needed to prevent or ameliorate disease.
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