out your door. You step onto the road, and if you don't keep your feet, there's no knowing where you might be swept off to. " (The Fellowship of the Ring, J. R. R. Tolkien) Fourteen years ago, I stepped out my door, planning to pursue a bachelor’s degree in nursing (at most three years of study) so that I could have some financial security while I raised my two children. I never imagined the amazing journey I was about to be swept off on. During my first semester as a nursing student, I found myself in a microbiology class taught by Dr. Joseph M. Sobek, and my world was never to be the same. I fell in love with the world of microbiology, promptly changed my major, and never looked back! So my first thanks go to Dr. Sobek, who first introduced me to this amazing world that never fails to leave me awestruck at its beautiful simplicity and infinite complexity. I also have to thank Dr, Philip H. Elzer, who taught me most of what I know about macrophages. He and his associates, Sue Hagius and Joel Walker, served as a surrogate family during the difficult three years following the completion of my master’s degree, and together, they inspired me to pursue this path that I have finally completed. My biggest thanks go to Dr. Ronald L. Thune, who took me on as a graduate student, and who has guided me through the completion of this degree. I also want to thank my committee members, Dr. Phili
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