More than one third of the cases seen by family practice physicians involve infectious disease or immunologically related disorders. Medical students complete a required two course sequence in Medical Immunology and Infectious Diseases and their Etiologic Agents (IDEA). The goals of this sequence are to provide students with the fundamental information necessary for the diagnosis, rational management, treatment options and control of infectious disease as well as an understanding of the role of the immune system in maintenance of a healthy host. Osteopathic principles are integrated in both courses. These goals are achieved through lectures, self-studies and problem-based interactive clinical case studies. The material presented in IDEA lecture is reinforced in the mandatory laboratory sessions that help students develop the skills they will find necessary to understand but not master the most commonly used microbiologic techniques ordered by a physician. The laboratory also allows students to become familiar with the general operations of a clinical microbiology laboratory. Problem based learning is used extensively in the laboratory. The material in Medical Immunology is reinforced by mandatory didactic clinical correlations and case presentations which are intended to be teacher-student interactive learning sessions.
In addition to the required courses, the Microbiology and Immunology faculty offer electives on request on the impact of social and geographic factors on infectious diseases and on agents of biological and chemical warfare and terrorism. Faculty also accept students into a research elective program. Areas of ongoing research include molecular and immunologic aspects of host-parasite interaction; immunopathological responses to infection, autoimmune diseases (rheumatoid arthritis and autoimmune uveitis); microbial adaptive mechanisms; latency in herpes virus infections, host factors related to the induction of antibiotic resistance; and, sexually transmitted diseases.