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Cancer Immunity and Immunotherapy


Admission requirements

See Brightspace for the admission requirements.

International Students should have an adequate background in Medicine and Immunology. Admission will be considered based on CV and motivation letter.
For more information, please contact


In this half minor, students will learn the immunological principles and working mechanisms of anti-cancer immunotherapies which are currently used in the clinic or under development. The effector mechanisms will be addressed, but also why certain anti-cancer strategies give rise to serious side effects. In addition to non-specific stimulation of innate immunity, students will study antigen-specific approaches and how antibodies and T-lymphocytes can be exploited to combat cancer. Checkpoint inhibitors, gene therapy and oncolytic viruses will be discusses as well as allogeneic stem cell transplantation, which is a form of immunotherapy in which a healthy donor derived immune system is transplanted to treat leukemia or other hematological malignancies.

Course objectives

  1. Explain how interactions between different components of the immune system lead to a functional immune response (academic expert);
  2. Consider the balance between (potential) efficacy and toxicity to evaluate the value of different tumor antigens for immunotherapy of cancer by searching the literature and public databases (academic expert and collaborator);
  3. Estimate the contribution of different components of the innate immune system in anti-tumor responses and explain their potential application for therapy of cancer by searching the literature (academic expert, communicator);
  4. Relate the type of antigens and immunological responses as exploited in (novel) therapies of cancer to evaluate (potential) clinical benefits and undesired side effects for the patient in a comparative study of two articles (academic expert, communicator, collaborator);
  5. Deduce from a patients’ history which type (or failure) of immunological response may explain clinical behavior of the malignancy or occurrence of undesired side effects after therapy (medical expert);
  6. Compare different immunotherapies, evaluate their (potential) benefits and threats and propose improvements (academic expert, communicator, collaborator).


All course and group schedules are published on MyTimeTable.

The exam dates have been determined by the Education Board and are published in MyTimeTable.
It will be announced in MyTimeTable and/or Brightspace when and how the post-exam feedback will be organized.

Mode of instruction

Lectures, workgroups, patient demonstrations, visit (out)patient clinic and diagnostic laboratory.

Assessment method

Essay questions
The exam consists of open questions based on a pre-evaluated question and answer model. The mark constitutes 15% of the final mark.
Rating: mark 1-10
Assessed by: 2 minor teachers

Oral presentations
Students prepare various oral presentations. The oral presentation on the literature study in the module on solid tumors (week 4) is summative. The presentation will be prepared in small groups of 2-3 students. Rating: mark 1-10
Assessed by: teachers in the half minor coaching the literature study. The oral presentation will count for 10% of the final grade.
Assessment: an assessment form with rubrics for oral presentations has been developed. Each student will be assessed individually for his/her contribution to the oral presentation.

Literature study
Students will be divided in small groups (3-4) and write a literature review on one specific type of cancer. During the course there will be coaching moments by the supervisors. Students will present their findings.
Rating: mark 1-10 (counts for 20% of the final grade)
Assessed by: two coordinators of the half minor
Assessment criteria: an assessment form with rubrics for the literature study has been developed. Each student will be assessed individually for his/her contribution to the literature study.

Final exam
The exam consists of multiple choice questions based on a pre-evaluated question and answer model. Questions address different topics that have been addressed in lectures presented during the half minor. The final exam counts for 15% of the final grade. Rating: mark 1-10
Assessed by: 2 minor teachers

Signal Transduction

This section of the course provides essential information on how receptors and their ligands (hormones, neurotransmitters, cytokines, growth factors or antigens) influence cell behavior through intracellular signaling pathways. Signaling pathways are closely associated with a wide range of pathologies, and many pathways are being investigated as potential targets for therapeutic intervention. From a medical perspective, understanding signaling means better understanding therapies and their potential adverse effects. The focus is on signaling mechanisms in the innate and adaptive immune systems. Much of your learning on this course will be through a collaborative project with a subject of your choice.

Course Objectives
1. To know the precise sequence of events of two different signaling pathways ("working examples")
2. To understand the molecular events that lead to altered protein interaction or altered protein activity (academic expert)
3. To be able to extract information from web-based annotated databases (academic expert)
4. To be able to translate molecular mechanisms of signaling pathways into cellular phenomena (academic expert)
5. To express your collective knowledge in an animated slide show or video (collaborator, communicator, academic expert).
6. To provide you with means that contribute to a pleasant collaboration (collaborator).

All course and group schedules are published on our LUMC scheduling website or on the LUMC scheduling app.

Modes of instruction
Interactive lectures, seminars, tutorials, protein-visualization classes and a group-based learning project.
The main thrust of the Signal Transduction course is the production of a 10 minute animated slide show or video, by groups of 4 students, on a topic of your choice, presenting a signal transduction pathway in the clinical context of an immune response, an immune-related pathology or an immune-based therapeutic intervention.

Assessment method
Rating: mark 1-10 (constitutes 40% of the final grade)

In-course quizzes
Each lecture contains numerous graded questions.
Mark 1-10
10% of Signal Transduction grade
Assessed by: IJsbrand Kramer

Held at the end of the 3rd week of Signal Transduction and covers all lecture content. The format will be short answer and multiple choice questions.
Mark 1-10
40% of Signal Transduction grade.
Assessed by: IJsbrand Kramer

Held at the end of the 4th week, a 10 min video presentation of the collaborative project (groups of 4 students) about signal transduction pathways
Mark 1-10
50% of Signal Transduction grade
Assessed by: 0.5 peer rating and 0.5 instructor rating (IJsbrand Kramer)
Assessment criteria: a rubric-based assessment.

Additional tests
A “formative” test will be given at the beginning of the course. This will give you an idea of what is expected of you and will help us to find out what you already know.

Collaborative-attitude test
To facilitate group working and warrant individual accountability, groups will formulate ground rules at the beginning of the project. These will be used in an online group self-evaluation procedure to be applied in week 2 and week 4 of the course. The degree of compliance with these ground rules will be translated into a group-work coefficient which will determine the individual project score (group score x coefficient = individual score).

Examination committee: Dr. N. de Miranda, Dr. M. Griffioen & Dr. W.A.F. Marijt

The exam dates can be found on MyTimeTable.

Reading list

You can find the complete reading list for the bachelor of Medicine here.


Information about the registration process can be found on the Brightspace course Half Minors.


Noel de Miranda,
Pathology, researcher N.F.de_Miranda@

Marieke Griffioen
Hematology, researcher

Erik Marijt
Hematology, Hematologist

IJsbrand Kramer
Professor of Cell Biology, University of Bordeaux