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Pioneering Researcher to Discuss the Body’s Defenses Against Disease

Friday, August 04, 2006

Immunologist Tim Mosmann, Ph.D., will discuss the immune system – the assortment of defenses that keep our bodies from being overrun by an ever-adapting array of microbes, viruses, parasites, and other threats – as part of a lecture series highlighting biological and biomedical research at the University of Rochester.

Mosmann will discuss his work on the immune system at 4 p.m. Friday, Aug. 11, in the Case Methods Room (Room 1-9576) at the Medical Center. It’s the latest installment of the “Second Friday Science Social” lecture series geared mainly to faculty, staff and students at the University, though the general public is welcome as well. The lectures are free. More information is available at

Mosmann, professor of Microbiology and Immunology and director of the David H. Smith Center for Vaccine Biology and Immunology, is a pioneer in our understanding of how the immune system protects us from disease. He studies how T helper cells develop different immune functions, and he is best known for discovering two primary classes of helper cells, known as Th1 and Th2 helper cells, that are important in virus infections and allergy, respectively. His recent work explores a third type of T helper cell that may be a precursor of the other types.

Understanding just how the cells of our immune system – including B cells, killer T cells, helper T cells, antibodies, macrophages and others – work together to defend the body is crucial both for understanding and preventing disease. At the University scientists and physicians are working on vaccines to prevent diseases like bird flu, Alzheimer’s disease, HIV, malaria, and herpes. Understanding the role of each part of the immune system helps scientists design vaccines that will kindle exactly the right type of immune response to stop the disease in question, while leaving the patient as free of side effects as possible.

Mosmann also heads a Human Immunology Center, where scientists are developing new technologies for measuring human immune responses. The center serves as a resource for researchers by bringing to widespread laboratory use the latest research techniques as quickly as possible. New tools make new discoveries possible.

Mosmann studied chemistry, physiology, and microbiology in South Africa, and he earned his Ph.D. in microbiology from the University of British Columbia in Canada. He joined the University of Rochester Medical Center in 1999.

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