Infectious diseases : a global challenge
Diseases caused by bacteria, viruses, fungi, and other parasites are major causes of death, disability, and social and economic instability for millions of people. Infectious diseases cause almost half of all deaths in the developing world. Efforts to reduce our global vulnerability to infection are hampered not only by the emergence of new pathogens, but by the re-emergence of old ones that have become resistant to widely-used antimicrobial treatments. There is thus a pressing need for new vaccines and drugs to prevent and treat infection. An understanding of the biology of pathogens, their host organisms, and the interactions between them is critical to fulfilling this need. Gaining this understanding and using it to develop new antimicrobial strategies are core missions of our department.
The immune system : friend and foe
Host immune systems, products of the long coevolutionary relationship between hosts and pathogens, distinguish between foreign and self and eliminate pathogenic microbes. The immune response to several classes of pathogens is under study in our department, and the resulting knowledge is being used to design new preventive and therapeutic vaccines. Complementary efforts are aimed at understanding the immune system gone awry, in which an immune response develops to self tissues, leading to autoimmune diseases such as systemic lupus erythematosus and type 1 diabetes. A better understanding of both protective and harmful immune responses will aid in the design of reagents to enhance the beneficial immune response to pathogens and dampen the harmful response to self.
The Department of Microbiology and Immunology at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine is a big tent dedicated to excellence in research with the ultimate goals of improving human health and training the next generation of biomedical research scientists. The faculty comprises a unique combination of basic researchers, and physician-scientists who have additional appointments in clinical divisions such as Infectious Diseases, Rheumatology, and Allergy and Immunology. Faculty interests include the genetics and molecular biology of prokaryotic and eukaryotic microorganisms, the cellular and immunological mechanisms involved in pathogenesis and host defense, and the interactions of a wide variety of microbes with their hosts. Department laboratories are located in the Forchheimer, Chanin, Golding, and Ullmann Buildings, and in the new Michael F. Price Center for Genetic and Translational Medicine.
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