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The University of Pittsburgh has a long tradition of excellence in immunology, which began with Jonas Salk and the development of the polio vaccine and continues with the development of vaccines for cancer and HIV. The immunology program faculty includes over 60 active members, trained at the most prestigious universities and research institutes. Research labs are funded by grants from the National Institutes of Health and many private foundations. Trainees in the program are supported by grants from NIH and DOD, as well as by individual fellowships from NSF, DOD and other sources. Other students are supported by research grant funding obtained by faculty mentors.
Because immunology intersects so many facets of health and disease, program faculty members have additional appointments in many departments of the medical school, including Molecular Genetics and Biochemistry, Pathology, Pharmacology, Medicine, Surgery, Ophthalmology, Dermatology, and Pediatrics. Many program members are also members of the University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute or the Thomas E. Starzl Transplantation Institute and of other graduate training programs, which strengthens the program’s cohesion and promotes opportunities for cutting-edge research in immunology.
Autoimmunity, cancer immunology, transplantation immunology, infectious disease immunology, and basic immunological mechanisms currently form the focus of the Immunology Program’s research efforts. Many recent clinical breakthroughs have been achieved at the University of Pittsburgh, which are derived directly from the basic research of Immunology Program laboratories. These include the development of dendritic cell-based vaccines for the treatment of melanoma, the induction of transplantation tolerance via bone marrow transplantation, and the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis via gene therapy. Graduate student members in program laboratories contribute directly to the success of these important projects. Most critically, the research of current and future graduate students will lead to the next generation of immune-based therapies of human disease.