August 25, 2021

Sneak peek of Dr. Huffnagle's food allergy undergraduate course

Condensing his popular semester-long course into 36 minutes, Dr. Huffnagle gives us a lay-friendly overview of the “Germ Wars, Asthma and the Food Allergy Epidemic.”

Helping students understand food allergy in the context of human disease throughout history is one angle of a unique undergraduate biology course designed by MHWFAC researcher Gary Huffnagle, PhD. 

Many people don’t realize that allergies were unheard of in earlier eras, Dr. Huffnagle says, when infectious diseases like smallpox, plague and cholera were prevalent and deadly.

But as humankind has conquered those and other communicable diseases, conditions that arise from hypersensitivity – like food allergy and asthma – became epidemic. 

As a scientist devoted to deciphering the biology of this phenomenon, Dr. Huffnagle is excited to share his knowledge of disease history and how they are driven by the microbiome – the good and bad microorganisms like bacteria, fungi, viruses and protozoa that live on and in our bodies.

The three-credit class formally known as Immunology, Health and Society (IHS 340) and subtitled “Germ Wars, Asthma and the Food Allergy Epidemic,” meets twice a week for lectures and class presentations.  Study material is supplemented by podcasts, including several by MHWFAC Director James R. Baker, Jr., MD and MHWFAC Scientific Director Nick Lukacs, PhD. 

Enjoy a speed-science overview by viewing Dr. Huffnagle's video at the Mary H. Weiser Food Allergy Center YouTube channel.

Gary B. Huffnagle, PhD, is the Nina and Jerry D. Luptak Professor at the Mary H. Weiser Food Allergy Center, as well as Professor of Molecular, Cellular and Developmental Biology; Professor of Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine; and Professor of Microbiology and Immunology.