About the Partner

The Society for Mucosal Immunology (SMI) was formed in 1987 to advance research and education related to the field of mucosal immunology. Today the Society represents a diverse group of more than 700 scientists and clinicians from 37 countries.

While general immunologists typically study immune responses in the spleen, lymph nodes or peripheral blood, mucosal immunologists focus on the sites at which most antigens enter - the mucosal surfaces of the gastrointestinal, respiratory and genitourinary tracts, the oral cavity and the eye. These surfaces comprise the body's first line of defense against an array of pathogenic microbes. Remarkably, the mucosal immune system is typically able to distinguish pathogens from both the commensal flora and innocuous dietary antigens and mount an appropriate response to each type of challenge. The unique features of the mucosal immune system that make this distinction possible are at the heart of the study of mucosal immunology. Equally important is the study of the disease states that result when the mucosal immune system's ability to distinguish pathogens from innocuous antigens fails; examples include inflammatory bowel disease and food allergy. Harnessing the mucosal immune system's unusual features to prevent or treat disease is another rapidly growing area of interest that includes the development and refinement of orally and nasally administered vaccines, adjuvants and immunotherapeutics.

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