Immune system insights for VCE students

Professor Fabienne Mackay inspired 70 young scientists at GTAC’s International Day of Immunology event.

Professor Fabienne Mackay, Head of the School of Biomedical Sciences, addressed VCE students at the Gene Technology Access Centre’s (GTAC) “Your Body at War” special event on 2 May.

The full-day event, held in celebration of the International Day of Immunology (29 April), highlighted immunology as a significant and exciting field of study. It also showcased Victoria’s substantial contributions to research and education.

Speaking to more than 70 Year 11 and 12 students from 10 Victorian high schools, Professor Mackay provided an introduction to the immune system as an essential part of a healthy body. She also explored why immunity can be ineffective, or even harmful, regarding some diseases, and the research developments that are being undertaken to address these problems.

The day included scientist-guided laboratory workshops exploring the microscopy of immune cells, as well as a presentation promoting career pathways that can lead on from formal immunology training.

This was one of many educational programs run by GTAC, which aims to foster relationships between teachers, students and scientists. GTAC is based at University High School, Parkville, and was established in collaboration with the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research and the Department of Microbiology and Immunology, School of Biomedical Sciences, at the University of Melbourne.

The event was free for Victorian teachers and students, and many in attendance were from regional or disadvantaged schools.

The International Day of Immunology aims to raise public awareness of the role the immune system plays in overall health, and to reinforce the importance of continued immunology research.