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Infectious Agents and Immunity



Thursday October 10th – Friday November 8th 2019.

Admission requirements

Students should be familiar with the contents of the course “Immunology” before starting in this course.


This course focuses on infectious agents and (un)successful interactions with host immune responses and anti-infectives at the cellular and molecular level. The program consists of sections on 1) the characteristics of the various classes of pathogens (viruses, bacteria and parasites), 2) immune evasion strategies and successful immune responses to infectious agents, 3) electives focusing on challenges in the field of infectious diseases, beneficial bacterial/parasite-host interactions, and treatment/prevention strategies, and 4) a practical research project on issues related to infection and immunity. Sections 1-3 start with an introductory lecture and comprise several self-study assignments. The assignments will be discussed and elaborated upon in workgroup meetings. Sample exam questions will be discussed during the workgroup meetings in order to prepare the students for the exam. Furthermore, State-of-the-Art lectures on specific topics in the field of infectious agents and immunity will be offered to the students to broaden and deepen their knowledge of infectious agents and their interactions with immune systems and anti-infectives. Moreover, students will be challenged to design and carry out experiments (in the field of infection and immunity) in the laboratories of the participating tutors. The results of these lab-projects will be presented at a symposium.

Course objectives

The student will be able to:

  • exploit the expanding knowledge (of the structure, functional activities, life cycles, transmission/epidemiology and genetics) of pathogens in order to understand the pathogenesis of infections.

  • explain the mechanistic/immunologic basis of strategies employed by pathogens to evade 1) the host defense systems and 2) anti-infective strategies with major societal impact (antibiotics, vaccines).

  • critical read and present (understand and explain) selected scientific papers in the field of infectious agents and immunity

  • to design, perform, discuss and present experiments in the field of infectious agents and immunity.

Mode of instruction

Lectures, self-study assignments, workgroup meetings, State-of-the-Art lectures, lab project (practical), scientific literature, symposium, self-assessment (E-learning and interim tests), sample exam.

Assessment method

Your final mark (maximum score: 10) for this block will be calculated as follows:

  • Exam: Nine questions. Total score: 10, weight 80%; minimal score ≥5.5 (on the scale from 1-10)

  • Presentation and participation mini-project: weight 20%; minimal score ≥ 5.5 (on the scale from 1-10)

  • Participation electives and workgroup meetings: pass/fail. Active participation includes presence at and performance of the mini-projects and presence at and oral contributions to work groups, and electives (discussion, questions, answering questions from the tutor or fellow students).

Exam dates

The exam dates can be found on the schedule website.

Reading list

  • Module book Infectious Agents and Immunity, Leiden, 2020

  • Primary literature (see dedicated black board site, module book) and

  • Peter Parham, ‘’The Immune System”, most recent edition


All course information can be consulted on the dedicated Blackboard site.

Information for exchange students

This module is part of an English taught third semester of the bachelor’s programme in Biomedical Sciences at Leiden University Medical Center. Combining biomedical modules with modules from other programmes in Leiden is difficult or impossible due to different scheduling schemes. Exchange students with sufficient relevant background knowledge in biology/biomedicine are therefore encouraged and advised to choose the entire module package indicated (by an *) below.

Immunology (BW), 9 EC* Infectious Agents And Immunity, 6 EC* Introduction to the Neurosciences 6, EC* Design and analysis of Biomedical Studies, 6 EC*

Line education Communication in Science for Exchange students, 2 EC*

Additional options: Biomedical Academic Scientific Training for Exchange Students, 2 EC And/or Applied Electrophysiology for Exchange students, 2 EC

A minimum number of applicants is required for continuation of the optional components.