Immunology Program

Description of the Discipline

Since 1975, the Medical Center has offered a Program through UT South­western Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences leading to a Ph.D. in Immunology. This course of study is interdisciplinary, with a faculty com­posed of members from the Medical School’s Departments of Biochemistry, Dermatology, Immunology, Internal Medicine, Microbiology, Neurology, Ophthalmology, Pathology, and Surgery.

A distinguishing characteristic of this Graduate Program is its multidisciplinary approach. General areas of research include a variety of topics:

  1. Innate immunity, inflammation, innate control of adaptive immunity, and mucosal immunology;
  2. Autoimmunity, histocompatibility antigens and disease, immune response to cancer, lymphocyte activation and signaling, cytokines, T- and B-cell interactions, and regulation of immunoglobulin synthesis;
  3. Transplantation immunology and graft-versus-host reactions

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The broadly stated objective of the Program is to train each student to function as a profes­sional in the scientific community. The Program specifically endeavors to offer each trainee the opportunity to acquire a firm and substantial understanding of the broad field of immunology as well as the opportunity to develop certain research skills and tools that will allow him or her to advance knowledge in the field of immu­nology and to develop the teaching capabilities that are essential for a viable academic career.

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The field of immunology encompasses many broad areas related to basic science and medicine. A major strength of the Immunology Graduate Program resides in its large faculty of individuals whose research interests include innate immunity, immunology of infection, disease, mucosal immunology, tumor immunology and immunotherapy, genetics of immune response diversity, and clinical immunology. This offers students a broad-based education in all current immuno­logic concepts and techniques so they can become competitive for future opportunities.

During the first semester, students participate in the Core Curriculum of the Division of Basic Sci­ence and the Fundamentals of Immunology course. Students then have the opportunity to gain a broad-based scientific background in areas of modern biology. Students also have an opportunity to attend Journal Clubs, Works-In-Progress seminars, and the Excellence in Immunology seminars during their first semester and are required to attend once they join the Program.

After completing the Core Curriculum and joining the Immunology Graduate Program, a variety of courses are offered.

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Advanced Courses

Course requirements and descriptions are listed on the Course Descriptions page.

Each of these courses focuses on integrating material from basic molecular biology, cell phy­siology, and clinical pathophysiology. The format for these courses involves didactic information and reading of the original literature followed by critical discussion in an informal setting. 

The Immunology Program has a weekly seminar series in which all advanced graduate students present their research on an annual basis to the entire Immunology Program. This experience affords students an opportunity to perfect their skills in oral presentation and com­munication to a sophisticated audience. Teaching opportunities also are available.

During the fall of the second year, students are required to pass a qualifying examination for admission to candidacy for the Ph.D. The qual­ifying examination consists of a written proposal and its oral defense. Successful completion of the qualifying examination is required to advance to Ph.D. candidacy.

A Supervisory Research Committee is appoint­ed for those candidates. This Committee reviews and evaluates the student’s progress and, upon completion of the dissertation based on original research and the student’s public presentation of the work, participates in the final oral examination of the student. 

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