Today is the World Day of Immunology

29 April 2011, Immune system

Since 2005, the 29th of April has marked Day of Immunology in many countries across the globe. Established by the European Federation of Immunological Societies, its primary goal is to strengthen public awareness of the importance of the immune system to each person's health and wellbeing.

Here in New Zealand researchers at the Malaghan Institute of Medical Research, New Zealand's premier immunology research centre, are always keen to promote the day and the key messages that are so relevant to the work that they undertake.

Many diseases such as asthma, arthritis and multiple sclerosis result from an inappropriately operating immune system. Scientists at the Malaghan Institute believe that understanding immunology is therefore key to developing treatments to help manage and reduce the debilitating effects these diseases bring.

This year the Malaghan Institute has teamed up with Victoria University of Wellington and the Australasian Society for Immunology to present a series of short talks on the 29th April, discussing how microbes can be used to regulate immune responses that affect diseases including cancer, asthma, diabetes and atherosclerosis.

"While some microbes cause illness in humans," says Dr Joanna Kirman, Infectious Diseases Group Leader at the Malaghan Institute and one of the speakers at the event, "others can help promote a healthy life and we can use them to fight disease. The balance between microbes and humans is delicate and complex."

It's a challenge to promote the event this year with the date coinciding with the Royal Wedding in London and its unprecedented media coverage. However, the Institute is thrilled that the public seminar is booked to capacity well in advance.

Places are still available for the more light-hearted free quiz evening "Plagues and Pestilence" taking place from 6pm on Thursday 05 May at Victoria University's Kelburn campus.

"We delayed the date of the quiz," explains Dr Kirman, "so that students will be back from their mid-semester break. We have put together some humorous questions with more serious underlying messages regarding immunology and our research."

No scientific knowledge is necessary and teams are encouraged to get together and come along. Refreshments will be provided so reservations are necessary. Click here for more information and to book your place.

Or contact Tanya Fulcher on 04 499 6914 x 811 or tfulcher@malaghan.org.nz

For more information on the Day of Immunology, please contact Dr Joanna Kirman on 04 499 6914 ext 856 or jkirman@malaghan.org.nz.

Want to know more ...

In 2008 young Italian Director Luca Sabbioni produced an award winning short film depicting the importance of immunology called "The Immunology Knight", which can be viewed here (you will need to scroll down the page to see the clip).
Click here to download a pdf of this media release
Click here to download a flyer of the Plagues and Pestilence Quiz Nite

About the Malaghan Institute

The Malaghan Institute of Medical Research is New Zealand's premier vaccine and immunology research centre and is based at Victoria University's Kelburn campus, Wellington. The Institute operates independently and is a charitable trust. Researchers at the Malaghan Institute are focused on developing innovative ways to harness the strength and potency of the immune system, the body's own natural defence against disease, to treat cancer, asthma, arthritis, multiple sclerosis and infectious disease.