Advanced Immunology

Course Leaders

Barbara Sherry, PhD and Christine Metz, PhD

Academic Schedule

This one-semester course, held every 3 years during the Fall/Early Winter semesters (2015, 2018, etc); this course meets weekly for 2-3 hrs.


A previous course in basic immunology or equivalent, i.e. students must have an understanding of the basic principles in immunology.

Overall purpose/objective

This course is intended for graduate students (physicians, physicians-in-training, scientists-in-training) to build on their understanding of the basic principles of immunology and to advance their understanding of immunology. Topics will include: innate and adaptive immune responses, as well as key concepts in immune regulation and tolerance, antigen processing, autoimmunity, immunodeficiency, transplantation, vaccine immunology and/or cancer immunology.

Conduct of the course

This course consists of a combination of didactic lectures, scientific seminars from invited speakers (chosen based on their expertise in basic and clinical immunology), and interactive student-run debates (with faculty facilitation). Lectures in each of the core areas will provide an overview of the current status of the field and address key research topics, current research literature, and incorporate active discussion by students. These core lectures will be complemented by interactive student-run debate sessions, where teams of students ‘debate’ topical, unresolved issues in the field of immunology. In addition, scientific seminars will be presented by visiting immunologists (prominent in their fields), who will present their cutting-edge research to provide students with an up-to-date understanding of the current advances in this rapidly moving field. Students (as a group) will meet with the seminar speakers for further discussion.

Upon completion of the course, students will be able to:

  • Describe the fundamental mechanisms underlying host immune responses
  • Discuss recent advances in the field of immunology, including the role of immunology in the pathogenesis of disease, immune-based diagnostics and therapeutics
  • Debate unresolved issues in the field of immunology
  • Critically evaluate current advances and established concepts in immunology
  • Analyze current research publications in the field of immunology and discuss the importance of these findings with respect to human health.


Attendance of course lectures, seminars and debates is mandatory. Excused absences must be approved in advance.

Formative assessment: Formative evaluation will take two forms. For didactic seminars, visiting lectures and meetings with speakers, each student will be assessed based on in-class participation. For debate sessions, which will be presented by two teams of students at a time (via Powerpoint presentations), each student will be assessed on critical thinking, the quality of their arguments, effective use of references supporting their responses/views, effective questioning of opposing team and the quality of their short written summaries of debate position (250-500 words) each student will prepare individually and submit prior to the debate.

Summative assessment: Each student will be assessed on a final project, submitted in written form, in which they identify an area of controversy within the field of immunology or an unresolved question within the field of immunology, formulate this controversy/question into a debate question, and briefly outline potential arguments supporting both sides.

Final grades will be comprised of participation (30%), summary of debate responses and debate presentation (40%) and final project (30%). A minimum score of 80% is required to pass the course.


The course is taught using Immunobiology, 8th Edition (Janeway’s Immunobiology), Murphy K, ed., Garland Science Publishing, New York, NY USA, 2011 to provide background information. In addition, students will be assigned reading that include seminal immunology papers (historical and recent, review and research).