SCIENCE 101 FOR PARENTS
An Ounce of Prevention: Vaccines and Your Child’s Immune System
||Thursday, December 12, 2013
||1230 York Avenue at 66th Street
||Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Hall
||The Rockefeller University
A child’s immune system learns by experience. From birth and in the years that follow, exposure to an array of bacteria, viruses, and environmental antigens plays a critical role in building healthy immunity against disease-causing organisms. Vaccines exploit this property by using inactivated microbes or their components to “trick” the immune system into creating defensive barriers against the pathogens that cause polio, measles, hepatitis, meningitis, and many other debilitating diseases. Vaccine recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control are constantly evolving, as new vaccines and formulations are introduced and new health directives—such as annual flu vaccines for children—are issued.
On Thursday, December 12, physician-scientist Sarah J. Schlesinger will discuss childhood immunizations from her perspectives as a biomedical investigator and a parent. She will explain the basic functions of the immune system and the challenges involved in creating and testing novel vaccines. For many years, Dr. Schlesinger worked closely with Ralph Steinman, the late Nobel laureate who discovered the key drivers of immunity known as dendritic cells. Her talk will touch on how dendritic cells help to induce immunity against infection while also eliciting immune tolerance to the many harmless agents that reside inside the body and in the outside world. These mechanisms are important for understanding allergy and autoimmunity. Dr. Schlesinger will also discuss her experiences leading HIV vaccine trials and other clinical studies at The Rockefeller University Hospital.
A graduate of Wellesley College, Dr. Schlesinger received an M.D. from Rush Medical College and trained in anatomic pathology at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical College, where she was chief resident. Currently, she is an Associate Professor of Clinical Investigation working with Rockefeller Professors Michel Nussenzweig and Jeffrey Ravetch, as well as a Senior Attending Physician at The Rockefeller University Hospital.