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Parasitology and immunology

Nicola Veitch introduces us to the study of parasitology
NICOLA VEITCH: I’m Dr. Nicola Veitch. I work at the University of Glasgow. I’m a university teacher here in the School of Life Sciences. And I teach infection biology subjects and molecular methods to undergraduate students. So if you’re interested in taking infection biology as a degree, I would recommend taking a general degree in microbiology in the first couple of years so say first and second year, will allow you to think about further specialising in your honours years. So it’s possibly the case that you could take microbiology going into university, but then, within that degree, specialise further into parasitology or virology once you know what the subjects are all about, really. Microbiology, traditionally, really is the study of bacteria.
In fact, it’s bacteriology. Parasitology was the study of parasites– so parasites that, as I said, live within or on hosts, and can cause detrimental effects to that host because those parasites will be taking nutrients from those hosts and using them to replicate and survive. Virology is the study of viruses. So viruses are infectious agents that live within host cells and use the machinery, the genomic machinery, to replicate within those cells, and can cause disease as well. So life sciences, I think, is interesting because one of the opportunities is that you can do research into something that could make a difference. For example, in the world of parasitology, there’s many diseases that are currently fatal.
One of the main aims in parasitology is to really try to come up with different types of control strategies and treatment options that aren’t currently available. Going into life sciences, in general, there are lots of opportunities to try to make a difference in terms of quality of life for people.

Bugs and microbes! We’ve looked a lot at some aspects of macro-biology – including the human body, plants, and sea life – but what about things you can only see under a microscope. Some of the biggest challenges facing humankind nowadays relate to the fields of immunology, parasitology and microbiology as Nicola Veitch discusses.

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