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Immunology

This course will introduce students to molecules, cells and organs that shape the immune system, and to some of the tools used to examine the immune system. Students will learn about the structural features of components of the immune system and mechanisms involved in its development and function, both for innate and adaptive immunity.

Course content

The course is organized into two parts and 24 lectures in total. Each of the modules listed will be discussed over 2-3 class sessions.

Part-I Immunology: the logic and formation of the immune system.

1. The immune framework
the need for immunity, immune components and their organisation, immune ecology, pathogen niches and effector responses, mucosal immunity, target identification, contexts of signals, control of the immune context of antigenic targets, auto-recognition and its problems

2. MHC/HLA as a unique immune receptor system
ideas of antigen presentation, functional structure of MHC, classes, polymorphisms, classical presentation pathways, non-classical pathways, non-classical MHC, processing sites and mechanisms

3. Outlines of immune cell lineage development
separation between embryogenesis and immune development, sites and lineages, checkpoints and signals, proliferation and differentiation balances, relationships of myeloid, NK, g/d T, T and B cell lineages

4. B cell development
B cell development, pathways and sites, recombination, allelic exclusion, selection, receptor editing, survival and signals needed

5. T cell development
T cell development, signalling for retention, expansion, recombination, differentiative progression, selection: positive and negative

Part-II How the components of the immune system work to protect the host from pathogens.

6. CD8 T cell immune responses

In this module we will discuss TCRs and TCR signalling, effector and memory response balances and different memory differentiation models.

7. B cell responses.

Structures and functions of antibody/BCR molecules, BCR-mediated signalling, accessory signals, germinal centres, isotype class switching, somatic hyper mutation, differentiation of memory B cells versus plasma cells.

8. CD4 T cell responses

This module will discuss the lineages of CD4 T cells, regulation of commitment to distinct cytokine groups in T cell responses, regulatory T cells and how T and B cells work together.

9. Immunity in heath and disease

Here we will mainly talk about immunity to infections and integration of innate and adaptive components in regulating immune responses to infection. We will touch upon concepts mucosal immunity, non-infection-targeted immune inflammation, autoimmunity and allergy.

10. Antiviral immune responses; SARS-CoV-2 (or why you are probably attending these online lectures in your pajamas!).

This module will be a continuation of module 9 where we look at the immune response to SARS-CoV-2. We will also learn about different vaccine platforms by looking the COVID19 vaccines at various stages of approval / development.

11. Tools of immunology, recent findings, interesting questions, controversies, and other cool stuff.

Study at Ashoka

Study at Ashoka