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Professor Mick Bailey



I teach a twenty lecture module on 'Comparative and Veterinary Immunology' which concentrates on understanding the immune systems of a range of diverse organisms by understanding their evolution. The theme of the course is that pressure by pathogens has led to the evolution of very diverse, but extremely efficient immune systems which allow the organisms present on earth to avoid extinction. In addition to the prototypic adaptive immune system based on genetic rearrangement of loci encoding immunoglobulin superfamily domains, the course covers the recently discovered adaptive immune sytem of the jawless fish (lampreys and hagfish) based on rearrangement of leucine-rich repeat domains. In addition, the course deals with the alternative mechanisms for expansion of repertoire seen within the pattern-recognition receptors of the innate immune system: either by extensive duplication (the sea urchins), by hypermutations (the molluscs) or by alternate splicing (the arthropods). The course also addresses the types of immune mechanisms which must have been present in the dinosaurs, and deals with some of the less well known, but very novel evolutionary modifications seen in the immune systems of the ruminants, and the camelids and sharks