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Immunology Expert Edits, Writes Book on Mucosal Immune System

Michael W. Russell, PhD

Michael W. Russell, PhD

Published November 12, 2015

Michael W. Russell, PhD, professor of microbiology and immunology and oral biology, has co-edited and co-written the fourth edition of the only comprehensive reference on mucosal immunology’s basic science and clinical manifestations.

“This book represents the current state of knowledge in the field of mucosal immunology.”
Professor of microbiology and immunology

“Mucosol Immunology” covers all aspects of mucosal immunity and the mucosal immune system. The book discusses specific diseases and therapies related to the body’s mucosal surfaces and glands.

Authoritative Source of Information

“Mucosal Immunology” is the only book of its kind, Russell says. “It serves as the ‘go-to’ source for information on the whole field of mucosal immunology.”

Other treatises on immunology typically ignore the mucosal immune system altogether or cover it superficially, even though it’s the largest component of the immune system, he explains.

“This book represents the current state of knowledge in the field of immunology. It was written by 250 authors from all around the world who are preeminent experts in their particular fields.”

He co-edited it with physicians and scientists from the University of Alabama at Birmingham, the La Jolla Institute for Allergy and Immunology, the National Institutes of Health and Ghent University in Belgium.

It’s published by Academic Press, an Elsevier imprint.

Book Reflects Field’s Growth Over Past Decade

The book has grown considerably with each new edition, Russell notes. It now comprises two large volumes with 117 chapters, three appendices and about 2,600 pages.

“This reflects the huge growth of the field of mucosal immunology, especially during the past decade,” says Russell.

It also reflects increasing recognition that the immune system has a primary role in protecting mucosal surfaces such as the gastrointestinal, respiratory and genital tracts; the mouth and eyes; and the mammary glands.

The first edition, published in 1995, was a handbook edited by leaders in the field, including Pearay L. Ogra, MD, UB clinical professor emeritus of pediatrics, who completed a fellowship in virology at UB.

Second and third editions were published in 1999 and 2005. The current edition was published after nearly five years of work. 

Using Expertise to Mentor, Train

Russell has mentored graduate students and postdoctoral scholars in the Department of Microbiology and Immunology. All have had opportunities to develop insights into the importance of mucosal immunity, how it works and how it contributes to overall health.

“My last doctoral student contributed importantly to comprehending the immune response to Neisseria gonorrhoeae, and subsequent work in my lab has opened up the field in an entirely novel way,” he says. “In turn, this has led to some new approaches for the treatment of gonorrhea and possibly other infections of mucosal tracts.”

Russell has expertise in various areas of the field. In addition to co-editing four sections of the book, he wrote and contributed to 10 chapters that cover subjects including:

  • historical aspects of mucosal immunology
  • mucosal vaccines
  • phylogeny and comparative physiology of mucosal immunoglobulins
  • functional properties of immunoglobulin A
  • immunity to sexually transmitted infections
  • innate humoral defense factors