A background in biology and related disciplines is good for better understanding of immunology
Immunology is a broad biology field involving the immune system or the body’s defense system against foreign bodies. The immune system is the body’s natural defense mechanism that keeps diseases at bay. In this field, you learn to manage the different immune system components’ physiological, chemical, and physical.
Though interesting, it is a complex field. There are some prerequisites for immunology that you must be well-versed with, like basic biology and its related areas like cell biology & genetics, biochemistry, elementary math and physics. With some background it gets easier to get into the immunology field and master it in no time.
Immunology pertains to normal and abnormal immune system functioning. So, an immunologist studies the immune system in both disease and health. He also digs into the working of the immune system, why and how immune system disorders develop due to environmental factors that intervene with the body’s functioning and ways to treat them.
Immunology Prerequisites That Will Help Out Every Learner
Some of the subjects that you should know about before taking up an immunology course are:
In the last few decades, we saw rampant growth in immunology at the forefront of advances in medicine and science.
You will employ your biology background and immunology knowledge for treating disorders like immune deficiencies, autoimmune diseases, and allergies. Biology knowledge is pivotal in understanding the susceptibility and resistance to transplantation science, infectious diseases, and vaccine development.
Biology knowledge is also one of the quintessential prerequisites for immunology because it makes it easier for you to work with various infectious diseases and comprehend different medical contexts. Moreover, it can streamline the development of novel biotechnological advances and suitable therapies.
Some background in chemistry is also imperative to enter into the field of immunology. But why is chemistry one of the essential prerequisites?
Most immunology courses demand a background in chemistry and at least a year of experience in organic chemistry. It is because almost every immunologist works in a lab, wherein they study the chemical and physical characteristics of the immune system.
They also assess how living being experience different hypersensitivities and allergies, transplant rejection, immune deficiency, and autoimmune disorders. All of these date back to chemistry understanding, making it important to have some prior knowledge about it.
3. Elementary physics
A fundamental understanding of Physics is also crucial for a career in immunology. It becomes even more imperative if you intend to get into Immunophysics. It is a novel interdisciplinary research field that demands an understanding of physical, biological, immunological, and chemical approaches.
Immunophysics helps modify and elucidate the immune-mediated mechanisms and further amplifies the knowledge of path mechanisms of chronic immune-mediated diseases like chronic infections, asthma, inflammatory bowel disease, and arthritis.
The knowledge of Statistics and mathematical concepts allows multidisciplinary approaches that catalyze discovery. The experimental methods help define measurable observables, identify main hypotheses, and reconcile disparate results.
Familiarity with mathematics helps you seamlessly gather a representative sample of studies in T-cell biology, which helps present the benefits of modeling-experimental collaborations that are typically ground-breaking. Hence, getting well-acquainted with mathematics is necessary because it is one of the immunology prerequisites that can streamline your learning.
Of course, there may be examples of synergy between experiments in immunology and mathematical modeling that have resulted in significant insight, which would have been impossible sans these collaborations.
There is also a dedicated mathematical immunology branch that deals with the computational algorithms and application of different mathematical methods to explore the organization, dynamics, structure, and regulation of the immune system in disease and health.
So, if that is going to be your field of study, it will help you to be well-versed in the subject. One mathematics aspect you must not ignore is integral calculus because you will heavily use it in immunology.
Biochemistry is the study of the working of cells at the molecular level. Hence, getting well-acquainted with molecular biology and biochemistry can help you understand the molecular basis of life and how it plays a crucial role in disease protection.
Biochemistry becomes an important immunology prerequisites because, in immunology, you will study how your body guards against the disease through various biochemical processes. It also helps you understand how the immune system feels getting tricked into attacking its tissue, resulting in autoimmune diseases like rheumatoid arthritis, allergy, or diabetes.
When you are familiar with biochemistry in detail, you can opt for a specific degree combination. This unique amalgam can help you delve deeper into biomedical science areas like cardiovascular research, neuroscience, drug research, industrial immunology, immunopharmacology, bacteriology, and microbiology.
Genetics can help you comprehend usual events like growth, aging, and development in the cell’s underlying molecular machinery. It comprises the functioning and development of the immune system that guards us against pathogens.
Further, knowledge of genetics also makes it easier for you to explain what might go wrong with the disease. For instance, in Immunology, people tend to develop debilitating autoimmune diseases like multiple sclerosis. So, when you have a background in Genetics, you can combine it with your immunology knowledge. It helps gather deeper insight at organismal, cellular, and molecular levels.
In addition, as one of the prerequisites for immunology, genetics knowledge also helps acquire an in-depth understanding of some selected aspects of immunology and its relationships with genes that will help you if you intend to get into the research domain.
7. Cell Biology
Immune system cells adapt to their biology for the specialized function of defense against infection. Innate immune cells like dendritic cells and macrophages work as sentinels for early pathogen detection with germline-encoded pattern recognition receptors.
Innate immune cells also mediate inflammation via the chemokines and cytokines secretion, which influences the cells via binding to specific receptors. Complement system activation leads to direct microbe killing, which further amplifies inflammation.
The first pathogen encounter stimulates dendritic cell maturation in native T-cell responses resulting in adaptive and innate immunity. All of this comes under the biology of a single cell. Thus, familiarity with cell biology can simplify your path into immunology.
Microbiology involves the study of multi-celled and single-celled organisms. Actually, the study of immunology has made us focus on microbiology more.
The microbes that cause disease manipulate the immune system, triggering an immune response during the infection. As an immunologist, you will work with eukaryotic and bacterial microorganisms and viruses that cause several diseases like Tuberculosis, Dengue Fever, Leishmaniasis, and Malaria.
As one of the important immunology prerequisites, you will be employing your microbiology knowledge to understand the immune response in the host organisms to infection.
Frequently Asked Questions
Ques 1. Can you take up a graduate-level course in immunology without any prerequisites?
Ans. In all honesty, you can take a graduate-level course sans any prior requirements, but you may experience challenges at multiple levels. Hence, it always helps to be well-versed in the prerequisites.
Ques 2. What do you need for a Ph.D. in immunology?
Ans. Ph.D. Immunology is a research-level program that takes around three to five years to complete. As part of this program, students learn about the interactions and functions of all the immune system components. It includes infections like pseudomonas aeruginosa, cryptococcus neoformans, malaria, Lyme disease, and diabetes.
The Ph.D. comprises Neuro-Immunology, Auto Immunity, Stem Cell Biology, Tumour Immunology, Infection and Immunity, Transplantation, etc. So, to apply for this course, students must have an MS or MD degree in a relevant discipline from a recognized university.
For admission, a student’s performance in the entrance exam is assessed, followed by a personal interview round conducted by a university or college.
Once you meet the prerequisites for immunology Ph.D. and get admission, you can go forward with the course. After you finish, you will have several job opportunities and find work as a Research Scientist, Technical Assistant, Lecturer/Teacher, Immunologist, etc., and find work in areas like colleges and universities, laboratories, government organizations, and hospitals.