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Immunology is the study of the body's defence mechanisms, from the barrier of skin to the workings of the cellular immune system. 

Autoimmune diseases, where the body's defence systems turn on itself, are chronic and can be devastating to people's lives. 

These Immunology podcasts describe the work of the Nuffield Department of Medicine (NDM) researchers to understand the molecular processes of the immune system, and its role in infection, inflammation, and disease. The podcasts on Autoimmune conditions talk about MS, spondyloarthritis and inflammatory bowel disease, as well as the biological mechanisms underpinning autoimmunity itself.

To access the podcasts just click on the titles:

Atherosclerosis and immunity by Professor Chris O'Callaghan

Professor Chris O'Callaghan tells us about the role of our immune system in vascular disease. The accumulation of fat in the arteries, such as cholesterol, can cause a thickening of the artery wall known as atherosclerosis. Professor Chris O'Callaghan is researching the role of the innate immune system in atherosclerosis to better understand immune responses to vascular disease. This may lead to improved treatments.

Structural cell biology of virus infection

Professor Kay Grunewald tells us how structural cell biology can help us understand virus infection.

Cells constitute the smallest autonomous units of life. The tightly regulated structural and functional organisation is currently only rudimentary understood. Professor Kay Grünewald uses electron cryotomography in combination with other techniques to analyse virus' 'life cycle' in situ, which requires an understanding of its transient structures at the molecular level. Imaging techniques allow us to understand the communication between the virus and the components of the cell it is infecting, which can ultimately help to treat infectious diseases.

The lymphatic system in immunity and cancer

Professor David Jackson tells us about the role of the lymphatic system in immunity and cancer. The lymphatic system is a network of vessels collecting the fluids leaked from the blood vasculature. Its filtering function makes it an ideal compartment for the immune system. It is also a pipeline for metastasizing tumour cells to spread to distant tissues. Professor David Jackson studies how leukocytes and tumour cells enter the lymphatic vessels from the surrounding tissues. Professor Jackson's research has the potential to help us better control the spread of tumours, block unwanted immune responses in autoimmune diseases, block tissue rejection and make vaccines more effective.

Crohn's disease

Professor Alison Simmons is interested in the molecular aspects of innate immune recognition, the primitive arm of the immune system that defends the host from infection by other organisms in a non-specific manner. Defects in the innate immune system can result in difficulty clearing infections but also in inflammation.

Gut reactions

Professor Fiona Powrie talks about the importance of our guts, and her research in gastroenterology. 

Immune System in the Gastrointestinal tract

Dr Holm Uhlig talks about the role of the immune system in our gastrointestinal tract. The gastrointestinal tract is home to more bacteria than there are cells in our body. In order to stay healthy, our immune system must maintain a strong and effective response towards these bacteria. Dr Holm Uhlig is based at the Translational Gastroenterology Unit and studies defects in the immune response and regulation leading to immunopathology. Dr Uhlig is predominately interested in children with inflammatory bowel disease, and aims to understand the complex puzzle of molecular mechanisms involved.


Professor Richard Cornall tells us about his research on autoimmunity. Autoimmunity occurs when the immune system, which is normally designed to attack pathogens, ends up attacking the body. This can lead to a number of diseases such as diabetes and rheumatoid arthritis. Professor Richard Cornall aims to understand the causes of autoimmune disease, and also how people differ in their inherited susceptibility, and why these differences are sustained in human populations by natural selection.


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