(12 Posts)
immunologyq Tue 28-Nov-17 13:01:58

Anyone out there who works in or knows about immunology and related subjects?

DS aged 14 in year 9 has always been interested in science, especially biology at the cellular level and the interface with chemistry. This is something DH and I know basically nothing about - and it seems to be a complex area with lots of different degree titles... Recently, DS's main interest is immunology (e.g. he has been reading and rereading an undergraduate textbook on it, and saying maybe that's what he wants to do as a career). Help me advise him?

DS definitely doesn't want to be a doctor, so doing a medical degree as a first step is probably not right for him; it isn't clinical immunology he wants to end up in. His fantasy job is probably working in a start-up that does something revolutionary to abolish allergies (he would talk about this much more technically than I can). He's very strong across the board academically (so I wouldn't rule anywhere or anything out on the grounds that he couldn't get the grades: he could) and he's (boasty, sorry, but it's true and relevant) an outstanding mathematician (so even though he likes lab work and doesn't seem to be bad at it, I'd be surprised if he didn't eventually land on the theoretical end of whatever he did).

I see that some places (Glasgow, for example) offer undergraduate degrees specifically in immunology but most don't. I'm not sure whether he should be looking at biomedical sciences, molecular biology, biochemistry, or what. Any insights into the implications of that choice? My prejudice would be that he should do a broad undergraduate degree and then think about specialising to immunology at master's level - agree, disagree? If you were going to pick one university and one course in the UK for this person, what would it be, and why?

He'll do three sciences at GCSE and I assume other than that his choices don't much matter, right (provided he does well)? Three sciences and maths at A level probably? Any gotchas, or any other opportunities I should make sure he knows about? Summer schools? Any other advice of any kind?

Thanks in advance!

OP’s posts: |
titchy Tue 28-Nov-17 13:19:44

i agree with you. Broad UG - Biology with MCB options in third year, then more specialist PG. Bio, Chem and Maths A Level.

immunologyq Tue 28-Nov-17 13:23:45

MCB being...? (Sorry, said I knew nothing about it...)

OP’s posts: |
StartedEarly Tue 28-Nov-17 13:48:29

I think that for now he should choose at least Biology and Chemistry for A level. Then in Year 12 look at uni prospectus in detail and go to open days. Staff will be able to discuss his best options.
He could also do subject taster days at several unis. DD did one at York where she ended up going.
I agree that a Biology UG is the best starting point.
York has a good reputation for Biology. All the bio related students follow the same first year and then can choose modules according to their interest in second and third year.
He may well find that something other than immunology sparks an interest and will still have all options open to him.

titchy Tue 28-Nov-17 13:50:40

MCB = Molecular and Cellular Biology

AiryFairy1991 Tue 28-Nov-17 13:54:21

I did immunology at Glasgow and their course allows for you to change your focus up until third year. That means he does general biology and chemistry for the first two years of his undergrad.

I ended up in teaching but a lot of the other people on my course went into research after doing their PhD in Glasgow and around the world.

immunologyq Tue 28-Nov-17 14:13:54

Thank you! Yes, my prejudice comes from the fact that I went to university with a firm idea of what I wanted to specialise in, and came out specialising in something quite different grin

OP’s posts: |


ttlshiwwya Tue 28-Nov-17 14:26:15

DS2s friend did a Glasgow summer school in Biology and Chemistry at end of S5 (?Y12). I suspect many other universities run something similar. His pass in the summer school will get him a reduced offer.

DS2 did a Nuffield research placement over the summer after the end of S5. No reduction in offer but he found the lab experience he got to be really useful now he's in the first year of his degree.

NotCitrus Tue 28-Nov-17 14:41:55

Even if his degree is called Immunology, it's likely to be identical to other biomedical science subjects in the first year and overlap in the 2nd year.
I would encourage chemistry and also maths or physics, and consider unis which have a strong research reputation in life sciences. Cambridge's Natural Sciences might work well for him - lots of mathematical biology and chance to specialise in Immunology or something else.

GnomeDePlume Tue 28-Nov-17 17:49:06

DD1 is in her final year of Biochemistry. Her interest and placement year were/are very much focused on the sub-cellular level. Lots and lots of Physics and maths as well as biology and chemistry.

immunologyq Tue 28-Nov-17 18:41:46

Thank you all, really helpful.

ttlshiwwya wow yes, the Nuffield placements look awesome. Will definitely point him at that application process when he's old enough.

NotCitrus Cambridge NatSci's probably the ultimate in leaving his options open, yup!

GnomeDePlume do you mind if I ask what kind of thing your DD is planning to do next?

OP’s posts: |
GnomeDePlume Tue 28-Nov-17 21:06:22

immunologyq DD1's interest is in toxicology - commercial rather than forensic. She is exploring her options at the moment. Grad schemes dont appeal. One option would be to see if she could return to the company where she did her placement. Another option would be to go onto a Masters programme.

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