Immunology and Infectious Diseases
Dyann F. Wirth, PhD
Application Instructions and Information
The Department of Immunology and Infectious Diseases (IID) focuses on the biological, immunological, epidemiological, and ecological aspects of viral, bacterial, protozoan, and helminthic diseases of animals and humans, and on the vectors that transmit some of these infectious agents.
Research in the department emphasizes basic pathogenic mechanisms that may lead to better diagnostic tools, the development of vaccines and other interventions for prevention and control of infection and disease, and the identification of new targets for antiviral and antiparasitic drugs. Laboratory-based research within the school may be supplemented by field-based studies of epidemiologic and ecological aspects of infectious disease transmission and control. Diseases of developing countries are emphasized.
Members of the department take a multidisciplinary approach that includes immunology, molecular biology, public health entomology, cell biology and ultrastructure, biochemistry, pathology, virology, epidemiology, and ecology. The faculty undertakes research both within the school and around the world.
Infectious diseases currently under study include protozoa (malaria, leishmania); helminths such as schistosomes and viruses (HIVs, leukemia retroviruses, West Nile virus, eastern equine encephalitis); and bacteria (Lyme disease agents, ehrlichia, tuberculosis). Further immunologic studies focus on the genetic regulation of the immune response, the function and regulation of T-cell-derived cytokines, and cytokines involved in the regulation of inflammation.
Degree Program in Immunology and Infectious Diseases
The department offers only the PhD. No master’s programs or other doctoral programs are available.
All program requirements are in addition to the schoolwide degree requirements.
Students in this program choose from among the areas of interest described below:
Immunology This area currently focuses on the genetic regulation of the immune response and the function and regulation of T-cell-derived cytokines. Students take courses in cell biology, immunology, and molecular immunology.
Immunology and molecular biology of parasitic and other infections Study in this area introduces students to recent advances in the biology of parasitic and infectious diseases and provides background for conducting research on them. The curriculum emphasizes molecular biology, immunology, cell biology, and the epidemiology of parasites.
Infectious disease epidemiology and tropical public health This area provides a solid understanding of epidemiology, ecology, and control of infectious diseases in developing countries. It stresses control and prevention measures and the biological basis of diseases caused by pathogens that range from viruses to parasites.
Vector biology, ecology, and control In this area, the focus is on the manner in which blood-feeding arthropods interact with their various vertebrate hosts and with the human pathogens that they transmit. The curriculum combines biological experimentation, epidemiologic analysis, and population studies. Students become familiar with the various arthropods that are associated with human disease and learn the ways environmental change may result in ill health. Students conduct studies on mechanisms of transmission of vector-borne pathogens, both in the laboratory and in the field, and devise novel intervention strategies.
Virology The virology area is designed to prepare a future generation of experts for new developments in the pathogenesis and prevention of AIDS and other infectious diseases. At present the program emphasizes the epidemiology, biology, and development of a vaccine against AIDS as an example of a complex infectious disease.
Students take courses in virology, vaccine development, and related fields.
PhD in Biological Sciences in Public Health (Immunology and Infectious Diseases)
The department’s PhD program is run through the HSPH Division of Biological Sciences, an umbrella organization comprising several of the school’s departments. Prospective students should apply to the PhD program in the Division of Biological Sciences. Application is through the Harvard Graduate School of Arts and Sciences.
651 Huntington Avenue, FXB 301
Boston, MA 02115
Schoolwide degree requirements
Online application to the PhD program in the Division of Biological Sciences is required. Use the Harvard Graduate School of Arts and Sciences online application form, available at: http://www.gsas.harvard.edu/prospective_students/ application_instructions_and_information.php.