Comparative Immunology is a graduate level course designed to introduce students to the key similarities and differences among the immune systems of various animal species.  

The course uses a combination of current scientific literature, review articles, and historical research papers to demonstrate how the study of these species has contributed to our understanding of immunology and disease resistance; and to develop students ability to read, understand, and critically review current literature.

Learning Objectives:

  • Compare and contrast the immune systems of vertebrate species

  • Compare and contrast methodologies used to evaluate the immune system of various animal species

  • Critically review current immunology research

  • Present and analytically discuss scientific data using proper immunology terminology

Immunological Topics:

  • Innate immunity
  • Antigen specific receptors
  • Self vs non-self
  • Immune regulation 
  • Clinical Implications

Comparative Immunology is team taught by faculty from CALS, CVM, and COS by scientists using non-traditional model systems to understand the immune system, its origins, and unique ways different animals have developed to protect themselves from pathogens.

Dr. Matt Koci

Dr. Koci's research uses poultry as a model to understand mucosal immunity. The majority of our work focuses on the innate aspects of host resistance to enteric infections.  He research is focused on understanding the initial host factors responsible for detection of pathogens and how genetic variations in the genes that encode these receptors affect the response and ultimately the disease progression. 

Dr. Jeff Yoder

Dr. Yoder's research uses the zebrafish model to understand the innate immune system.  The larval stage of zebrafish development provides a unique resource for studying innate immunity: during this time, the zebrafish possesses a highly competent innate immune system, but does not yet possess a functional adaptive immune system.  His laboratory is working to identify and characterizing novel innate immune response genes. 

Dr. Paul Hess

Dr. Hess's research is focused on CD8-positive T cell immunology and immunotherapy in dogs and cats.  His laboratory is working to characterize T-cell receptor-MHC Class I interactions with the goal of inducing tolerance to treat autoimmunity and aid allotransplantation. In addition, his group is working to identify T-cell peptide epitopes against viral diseases. 

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Dr. Bruce Hammerberg

My current research expertise is in allergic diseases and nematode biology. Regarding allergic disease research, we have developed canine x murine heterohybridomas. One of these produces canine monoclonal IgE specific for a filarial nematode antigen. Another produces canine IgG antibody specific for canine IgE. Using these tools, I have developed mouse monoclonal antibodies against heat stable epitopes of canine IgE and have the opportunity to make canine monoclonal antibodies against canine IgE epitopes that will be useful in preventing allergic disease in the dog. The unlimited supply of canine IgE of known antigen specificity has directed my research toward characterizing inherited differences in mast cell function in the dog, and at this time I am investigating the role of stem cell factor in inherited canine atopic dermatitis.My work with filarial nematodes over the last 25 years has recently turned to investigating how fatty acid binding proteins function in nematode physiology.

Dr. Jonathan Fogle

Using the FIV model for HIV, we have shown that CD4+CD25+ T regulatory cells are constitutively activated and suppress CD4+CD25- T helper cell immune responses during the acute phase and chronic phase of infection. Results of our recent experiments indicate that CD4+CD25+ T regulatory cells suppress the CD8+ immune response during the acute and chronic stages of FIV infection.  We are currently investigating the mechanism(s) of CD8+ cell mediated suppression and the intracellular signaling events that occur in CD8+ targets, following their interaction with activated CD4+CD25+ cell from FIV+ cats.

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Dr. Shila Nordone

My research involves studying the mechanisms and consequences of the molecular interactions between pathogenic organisms and the innate immune system. Pathogen-mediated modulation of innate immunity can dictate the pathological consequences of infection, the duration of survival of the pathogen in the host, and ultimately, the ability of the adaptive immune response to evolve and clear infection. At the center of my research is the role of Toll-like receptor (TLR) and Triggering Receptor Expressed on Myeloid Cells-1 (TREM-1) activation in pathogen-immune system interactions. We are currently engaged in the following research areas:  1) Modulation of TLR-mediated responses by HIV-1 infection and 2) TREM-1 mediated inflammation during canine sepsis. The overall aim of both areas of research is to increase our understanding of the basic mechanisms of pathogen-innate immune cell crosstalk and to identify new therapeutic targets for treating HIV and sepsis. 

Dr. Rodolphe Barrangou

Dr. Barrangou has worked on beneficial microbes, focusing on the occurrence and diversity of lactic acid bacteria in fermented foods and as probiotics. Using functional genomics, he has focused on uncovering the genetic basis for health-promoting traits, including the ability to uptake and catabolize non-digestible carbohydrates. He spent 9 years at Danisco-DuPont, characterizing probiotics and starter cultures, and established the functional role of CRISPR-Cas, as adaptive immune systems in bacteria. He has focused on establishing the molecular basis for their mechanism of action, as well as developing and applying CRISPR-based technologies for genotyping, building immunity and genome editing. 

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Course Details:

Comparative Immunology is a 3 credit course offered during the spring semester of odd years.

Interested students can register for Comparative Immunology under the course number PO 757 or IMM 757.

For more information contact:

Dr. Matt Koci
Prestage Department of Poultry Science
363 Scott Hall
Office#: 515-5388
Email: mdkoci@ncsu.edu