Surveying the Immune System
Welcome to Surveying the Immune System, an interactive immunology textbook primarily intended for those who are relatively new to the subject. We are passionate about teaching immunology and hope this interactive textbook will nurture both understanding and excitement about this fascinating field of study.
Immunology is a complex medical science; there is no end to the details that one may teach about this extraordinary subject. However, in our experience, much of this detail is non-essential to the novice learner and can initially stand in the way of grasping broader concepts. Instead, one of our main goals is to provide a simple yet accurate overview of the immune response and how it protects us from pathogens. Hence, the nine chapters of this book can be viewed as uncluttered overviews of topics that are central to the understanding of immunity.
Chapter 1 serves as an overall introduction to the innate and adaptive immune systems which are separate but complementary arms of our defense system. In Chapters 2-3 and 4-7, respectively, innate and adaptive immunity are each explored further while remaining true to the objectives of simplicity and ‘big picture’ thinking. In Chapter 8, the unique aspects of immunity in the gut are introduced, and in Chapter 9 we look at some of the clinical consequences of a dysfunctional or poorly controlled immune response, including sepsis, autoimmunity, and allergy. In all cases, we have made liberal use of artwork chosen or developed for the clarity it brings to the written material. A glossary of all bolded terms in the text and a list of abbreviations are included to aid the learning experience.
In addition to the overviews offered by this collection of chapters, the reader will also find various ‘snapshots’ of more specific immunological scenarios. These ‘Asides’, ‘Notes’, and ‘Focus Boxes’ are not meant to be, nor could they be, exhaustive in coverage; rather they are opportunities to explore a particular concept or application at a fuller, deeper level in a style that is engaging for both the novice and more advanced reader alike.
The Top Hat interactive textbook format also offers us the chance to enrich the textbook experience through the inclusion of high quality embedded videos that capture the essence of various topics in a way that is not possible with still figures and images. There are also direct links to supplementary materials that will provide further information for those who are interested. Brief tips can also be found in each chapter by rolling the cursor over words and phrases marked in blue, allowing related information to be revealed. We also direct the reader to the separate ‘Preface from Top Hat’ in which they explain the variety of ‘Question and Answer’ boxes embedded in the text and perhaps also used in associated lectures.
We would like to thank our colleagues, Dana Philpott and Jen Gommerman, whose lectures have inspired our approach to many sections of this book. In addition, we thank the Top Hat team for their technical support and expert guidance from start to finish on this project.
It has been a challenge and a pleasure to create this interactive textbook and we hope it inspires in all readers a deep appreciation for the endlessly intriguing world of immunology.
Liliana Clemenza, Ph.D., Assistant Professor
Wendy Tamminen, Ph.D., Lecturer
Department of Immunology, Faculty of Medicine, University of Toronto