Examines the molecular and cellular basis of immune function. Topics include: hematopoiesis, innate immunity, antigen receptor structure, lymphocyte development, antigen presentation, effector T-cell functions, and immune-mediated diseases. Prerequisite: coursework in molecular genetics; graduate standing in Immunology; other graduate students with permission of instructor. Offered: W.
The course examines the molecular and cellular basis of the immune system. In addition to providing background material, the lectures will also attempt to bring students up to date with current areas of basic research in immunology. Topics to be covered include: lymphocyte development; immunoglobulin and T cell receptor gene rearrangement; immunoreceptor signaling; MHC class I and class II antigen presentation; cytokines, phagocytes; NK cells; autoimmunity; immunodeficiency.
Student learning goals
Understand the cellular and molecular components of the innate immune system and the basic principles by which it functions.
Understand how dendritic cells act as a bridge between innate and adaptive (antigen specific immunity), mechanisms by which dendritic cells and other antigen process and present antigens to T cells, and the concept of MHC restriction.
Understand how T and B cells develop at a cellular and molecular level and explain how they recognize and respond to antigens.
Understand self-tolerance mechanisms and how deficits in these mechanisms along with environmental factors give rise to immunopathologies, including autoimmune and allergic diseases; understand the immunological barriers to transplantation and strategies to subvert these barriers.
Be able to critically review the evidence and experimental approaches by which current knowledge in the field was obtained, to identify important unanswered questions, how to address them and technical and ethical issues associated with doing so.
General method of instruction
Expert faculty will lecture and provide reading suggestions from recent textbooks, journal reviews, and the primary literature.
Prerequisite: Graduate standing in Immunology. Also other* graduate students who have a baccalaureate degree in a biological specialty and be conversant with molecular genetics, cell biology, and biochemistry. Previous exposure to immunology in an undergraduate course is also desirable. *Permission from course chair required for other graduate students.
Class assignments and grading
The course will be divided into 4 sections each with a distinct theme. At the end of each section there will be a class devoted to a student-led journal article oral discussion and a problem set. All students will complete each problem set, which will consist of 3 essay topics from which 2 must be completed and handed back for grading one week later. Each student will be assigned to one of the 4 discussion groups. The faculty member organizing the section will assign one or more papers to the appropriate students before the discussion and will meet briefly with the discussion group several days before the presentation to answer questions and to approve the general organization of labor within the group.
Each of the 4 problem sets will be worth 20% of the overall grade and the oral discussion will be worth 20% of the overall grade.