Biological and Biomedical Sciences Graduate Program

Leifer lab group 2010  

Graduate Field of Study


Immunology & Infectious Disease

The Graduate Field of Immunology & Infectious Disease offers broad training in the areas of innate and adaptive immunity, along with the mechanisms used by pathogens to invade, replicate and spread within human and animal populations. We emphasize the basic principles underlying host-pathogen interactions and the experimental tools required to understand those interactions. We are particularly interested in how pathogens are recognized and eliminated by the host.  This includes the signaling pathways utilized by granulocytes, macrophages, dendritic cells, and B- and T-lymphocytes in the context of infection and autoimmune dysfunction. On the pathogen side, we study a wide variety of disease agents (ranging from viruses to bacteria, protozoal, and worms pathogens) in order to identify the mechanisms they use to establish acute and chronic infection in different host species.

On a more practical level, we have active programs in vaccine development, high-throughput screening for antimicrobial compounds, and immunotoxicology. We belong to the larger Biological and Biomedical Sciences (BBS) Program at Cornell University that offers the PhD degree to qualified students following the completion of an oral examination and thesis defense.  We encourage maximum flexibility in terms of course requirements and offer students the opportunity to rotate through laboratories across a broad spectrum of other graduate fields within the BBS Program including Pharmacology; Molecular and Integrative Physiology; Zoology and Wildlife Conservation; and Comparative Biomedical Sciences.  In addition to membership in the BBS Program, the Field of Immunology & Infectious Disease participates in the inter-college graduate program in Infection and Pathobiology, which promotes interactions among scholars and students of different disciplines who share common interests in host-pathogen interactions.

A related field of study available at Cornell is Microbiology. This graduate field covers the commensal and symbiotic roles of microbes with animals and plants, pathogens of plants and the basic molecular biology of bacteria and archaea. For more information go to: http://micro.cornell.edu/cals/micro/academics/graduate/index.cfm

Admission: Because the Graduate Field of Immunology & Infectious Disease is a member of the Biological & Biomedical Sciences Graduate Program, applicants should follow the BBS application guidelines. For the admissions process, the Field of Immunology  & Infectious Disease requires two (2) letters of recommendation.