Sunday, May 26, 2013


In preparation for the start of my MPH program (specialty: infectious disease), I've been brushing up on various subjects for which I lack formal academic training, in particular parasitology, virology, and immunology. The latter is probably my weakest subject, and so I'm studying intensely to make up for lost time. I'm quickly finding that immunology is incredibly fascinating, and had I known the subject possessed so much intrigue, I might have pursued it as an undergraduate. I'm astounded by the complexity with which our immune systems function, and the armchair military historian in me is impressed by the multiform stratagems our bodies have evolved to battle invaders.

To achieve a firm grasp on the fundamentals of immunology, I'm drawing from two textbooks:

- The University of South Carolina School of Medicine's online Microbiology and Immunology
(a thorough, excellent resource available at     
- How the Immune System Works (3rd Ed., Lauren Sompayrac). This slim text is brilliant. It reads like a collection of lectures, meant to be completed in the course of a few days. The author breaks the material down into easily-digestible chunks, replete with helpful illustrations, and yet still imparts enough solid information to build a sound foundational knowledge of immunology.

In addition to textual sources, I'm utilizing a wide array of freely-available animated content.
McGraw-Hill's online components for its Human Anatomy textbook include many useful explanatory animations, like this one on phagocytosis.   
YouTube also has an abundance of material, like this video detailing respiratory burst:

Animation is a wonderful tool for the immunology student, as it so easily and clearly conveys what are otherwise complex and recondite processes. It is simple to understand how C3b or IgG works when you see it modeled in action, when on paper the fundament can be lost in a sea of associations and interactions with endless other acronyms. 

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