FACULTY OF NATURAL SCIENCES
School of Biological Sciences
Subject Group: Microbiology
Microbiology at work: Medical Microbiology
In sickness and health
In the field of medicine microbiology has a large field of application. Microbiologists are important role players in finding ways to identify, prevent and treat a range of infectious diseases. Diseases may include HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis (TB), viral flu, sexually transmitted diseases (STD’s), thrush, athlete’s foot, etc. With the rise of immuno-compromised individuals opportunistic diseases are playing a greater role and in essence significantly broadens the research scope for medical microbiology.
Technologies developed by microbiologists are also helping to pioneer gene therapy techniques for the treatment of genetic disorders. With gene therapy viruses are used to deliver corrective genes into the genome of the patient. Gene technology also play a role in the development of medicines and diagnostics.
In hospital laboratories microbiologists deal with the analyses of samples from patients, isolating and identifying the pathogens and advising on the appropriate treatment. The medical microbiologists also work to prevent hospital acquired infections and to trace and eliminate any infection that may occur.
Some microbiologists investigate the structure and function of the microbial genome. From this knowledge it is envisioned that more effective therapies may be developed against pathogenic organisms. This knowledge also help to improve our understanding of beneficial microbes such as those present in our digestive system.
Medical microbiologists can also be employed by research institutes and universities. Here they can research anything from diseases epidemiology to genomics to expand the current pool of knowledge.
Furthermore medical microbiologists can also be employed by industries to work on the development of medicines and vaccines.
Though medical microbiology is a very interesting and broad field, it is only covered at a introductory level at the North-West University. Furthermore the post graduate research focus of the Biological Sciences at the North-West are environmentally based. If your interest is medical microbiology at the post graduate level, we strongly recommend applying at a university with an established Medical Faculty.