Immunology

Program: Master programme in Biology
Level: Advanced level
Course code: 1BG313
Credits: 15 c
More info: Course syllabus
Student portal: Schedule and course material

All living organisms need to protect themselves against infections. In multi-cellular organisms this defence system is normally called the immune system. The immune system consists of a number of organs, cells and soluble factors. These components cooperate to detect and to remove infectious organisms like viruses, bacteria and parasites. The immune cells of mammals usually have very different functions. Neutrophilic granulocytes are for example very important for our defence against bacteria, and cytotoxic T cells are essential for our defence against many viruses.

The immune system can be separated into two branches, innate and adaptive immunity. Adaptive immunity differs from innate immunity by the ability to acquire memory and to develop specificity against different molecular structures. Innate immunity does instead react against common structures that we during millions of years have learned to recognize as typical for certain groups of microorganisms, as for example cell wall components of bacteria or double stranded RNA from viruses. In mammals the adaptive immunity consist primarily of two cell types, T and B lymphocytes. To recognize different pathogens these cells use highly variable molecules, i.e. antibodies and T-cell receptors.

The immune system is normally sufficient to protect us from different infections, but there is a constant battle between host and infectious organism, an arms race, where the immune system always have to be prepared to encounter new and more aggressive pathogens. The immune system is a very powerful system that normally works n silence. However this system sometimes overreacts, which may cause us large medical problems, such as allergies and autoimmune diseases.

The immunology course addresses in detail all of these components and phenomena and gives you as a student a very good base for working in almost all areas of immunology. Subjects addressed ranges from infectious biology, over evolutionary aspects on our immune system to questions concerning immunological diseases and their underlying mechanisms.

The course also gives you a good description of many important immunological techniques, of which many are standard techniques in almost all areas of science. This course also gives a good foundation for graduate studies in areas of immunology, and a good base for work in biotech industry and in aid projects dealing with questions of infectious diseases.

For more information, please contact:
Sandra Kleinau (sandra.kleinau@icm.uu.se)