Germ Warfare

Breakthroughs in immunology

Alan Baxter
AUD $21.95
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A personal look at some of the breakthrough discoveries in modern immunology and the scientists who were behind them.

'I met many of these people, count some as good friends, lived through a few of the ups and downs and was bitten by more than one genetically-defined mouse. I am also a character in this 'Pilgrim's Progress' of a modern, dynamic scientific discipline. I hope that you will enjoy this 'warts and all' account of a medically important and fascinating area of human enquiry.'

Peter C. Doherty, Nobel Prize Winner, 1996

Whether we like it or not, our bodies play host to a horde of microscopic organisms including viruses, bacteria and worms - some of which happily co-exist with us and others which would do the dirty on us if they could. Our only defence against these potentially harmful, uninvited guests is our immune system.

Germ Warfare describes the successes of this defence system but along with the victories it also describes breaches in the defences, leading to infections and autoimmune diseases such as arthritis and multiple sclerosis. By telling the stories of the major players in this new science of immunology, Alan Baxter explodes the myth of scientists as being stooped, stammering savants and brings their colourful characters alive. The temperamental rages of Elie Metchnikoff; the gentle New England dedication of George Snell; Howard Florey, the 'Australian bushranger'; Macfarlane Burnet, deeply shy yet politically adept; and the sophisticated charm of Peter Medawar all contribute to this refreshingly honest and humorous history of the great achievers and achievements in the once secret science that affects each and every one of us.

Alan G. Baxter is the Head of the Autoimmunity Group at the Centenary Institute in Sydney. He is fortunate enough to know and have studied under some of the characters in his book.

Author bio:

Dr Alan Baxter completed a PhD in Immunology at the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute and has worked as a Research Fellow at Harvard University and as a Visiting Fellow at Cambridge University. He is currently Head of the Auto-immunity Research Group at the Centenary Institute in Sydney.

Category: Popular science
ISBN: 9781865080703
Table Of Contents: Illustrations



1 Fighting Ebola

2 Starfish, splinters and a sense of identity

3 Ruminating on defences

4 The mystery of the disappearing lymphocytes

5 Discrimination and tolerance

6 Friendly fire

7 A question of priorities

8 Targeting the enemy

9 The Sloan-Kettering affair

10 Help and antihelp


Further reading

Publisher: Allen & Unwin
Imprint: Allen & Unwin
Pub Date: February 2000
Page Extent: 240
Format: Paperback - B format
Subject: Popular science

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