Immunity is of central importance to all organisms, as their very survival is dependent upon the ability to fight infection and disease. To enable this, the immune system is divided into innate and adaptive arms that include an array of cell types with specialised functions. However, while immunity is critical to our survival, immune dysfunction is a major contributor to disease burden in Australia and globally.
Infection, the flip side to immunity, is concerned with how pathogens (viruses, bacteria, parasites and fungi) cause disease. These pathogens have developed, and continually evolve, strategies to overcome the defences of the immune system. Indeed, infection is the cause of half of all illness and death in the world.
Great inroads have been made in understanding the processes underlying infection and immunity, and such major advances are beginning to impact on health through novel therapies. Indeed, vaccination - probably the most outstanding discovery in the field of medicine in the 20thcentury - represents a practical example of how better understanding infection and immunity can profoundly impact on society. However, there are many aspects of infection and immunity we do not yet understand and, accordingly, there is enormous potential to further our knowledge underpinning infection and immunity for society gain.