Although microbiology and immunology are fundamentally separate areas of biology and medicine, they combine to provide a powerful understanding of human health and disease— especially with regard to infectious disease, disease prevention, and tragically, of the growing awareness that bioterrorism is a real and present worldwide danger.
World of Microbiology and Immunology is a collection of 600 entries on topics covering a range of interests—from biographies of the pioneers of microbiology and immunology to explanations of the fundamental scientific concepts and latest research developments. In many universities, students in the biological sciences are not exposed to microbiology or immunology courses until the later half of their undergraduate studies. In fact, many medical students do not receive their first formal training in these subjects until medical school.
Despite the complexities of terminology and advanced knowledge of biochemistry and genetics needed to fully explore some of the topics in microbiology and immunology, every effort has been made to set forth entries in everyday language and to provide accurate and generous explanations of the most important terms. The editors intend World of Microbiology and Immunology for a wide range of readers. Accordingly, the articles are designed to instruct, challenge, and excite less experienced students, while providing a solid foundation and reference for more advanced students. The editors also intend that World of Microbiology and Immunology be a valuable resource to the general reader seeking information fundamental to understanding current events.
Throughout history, microorganisms have spread deadly diseases and caused widespread epidemics that threatened and altered human civilization. In the modern era, civic sanitation, water purification, immunization, and antibiotics have dramatically reduced the overall morbidity and the mortality of disease in advanced nations. Yet much of the world is still ravaged by disease and epidemics, and new threats constantly appear to challenge the most advanced medical and public health systems. For all our science and technology, we are far from mastering the microbial world.