Goals and objectives

This course is designed for graduate students and it is assumed the students have successfully completed basic immunology course/s.  The primary objective of this course is to help students develop the skills necessary for the critical analysis of contemporary literature on topics related to health and disease.  The course consists of two components:  lecture and discussion.  The lecture-based component is intended to review the basics of immunology and facilitate the conceptual understanding of selected topics.  Discussions are led by the students and require their active participation while the instructors assume the role of observers.  Each student will choose at least two research articles published during the last five years either in Nature, Science, Immunity, Cell, Cell Host and Microbe, J Exp Med and J Immunol and lead discussions that include audiovisual aids.  The order of presentations will be established during class. Students are responsible for distributing the chosen articles to their classmates and instructors one week prior to the class.  The learning objective of this exercise is to enable students to critically analyze background, hypothesis, experimental methods, results and discussion and implications.   To achieve these goals, the course material has been prepared to help understand the ability of our immune system to defend against invading pathogens in a logical fashion.  This includes our innate ability to defend against microorganisms (innate immunity); should this first line of defense fail, how we can fight infections (acquired immunity); if we react excessively, what price we pay (hypersensitivity); if we misdirect our defense, what the consequences are  (autoimmunity) and very importantly, can we prevent pathogens from infecting us (vaccination).

At the end of the course, the students should be able to:

  1. Conceptualize how the innate and adaptive immune responses coordinate to fight invading pathogens.

  2. Determine what immunomodulatory strategies can be used to enhance immune responses or to suppress unwanted immune responses such as might be required in hypersensitivity reactions, transplantations or autoimmune diseases.

  3. Critically review the sample literature to determine the strengths and weaknesses of the data published in immunology and its novelty.

  4. Explore strategies to improve existing vaccines and how to approach these.