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Innate Immune systems


Admission requirements

This course is for MSc students in Biology.

Contact information

Coordinator: Prof.dr. J. Memelink


Innate immunity is the primary mechanism by which animals and plants defend themselves against pests and diseases. Their innate immune systems rely on limited sets of evolutionary conserved receptors that recognize pathogen-associated molecular patterns and danger signals. In vertebrates, the innate immune system also functions to alert the adaptive immune system, which depends on a vast receptor variety and clonal selection of cytotoxic and antibody-producing cells. The course will primarily deal with the different innate defense mechanisms, their biochemical and molecular genetic mode of action, their efficiency and durability and their evolution, heritability and plasticity.

Learning goals

Course objectives:
The objectives are to get familiar with the innate immune system by practicing reading primary scientific literature, discussing scientific articles and orally presenting one or two specific scientific topics. Depending on the number of participants, writing a critical review may also be a part of the assignments.

Final qualifications:

  • Participants are familiar with critically reading scientific papers published in top journals.

  • They are able to ask critical questions.

  • They have experience in making a powerpoint presentation about a scientific topic, in orally presenting it, and in answering questions about that topic.

  • They have an understanding of the state-of-the-art knowledge about the mechanisms governing innate immunity and of the main concepts current in the research field.


1 March 2021 – 18 June 2021

Once a week (Wednesday) at the end of the day (15.30-18.30) in the 2nd semester (starting March). The detailed schedule depends on the number of participants and will be finalized after the first session. Typically the course will run from March to and including June, with weekly sessions from 15.30-17.00 and from 15.30-18.30 (depending on the number of participants).

Mode of instruction

Reading selection of original research papers. Oral presentation of one of the topics. Emphasis is on critical reading, discussion and oral presentations by the participants.

Assessment method

Oral presentation, discussion and, depending on participant number, a short written report.

Inspection and feedback on the examination

Date: To be announced


Brightspace is used for communication and course material.

Reading list

Research papers will be posted on Brightspace at the start of the course. Participants are assumed to be familiar with the basic theory about the innate immune system in Molecular Biology of the Cell (Alberts et al. sixth edition; chapter 24, pp. 1297-1306) and otherwise this knowledge needs to be acquired by self-study prior to or during the beginning of the course.



Exchange and Study Abroad students, please see the Prospective students website for more information on how to apply.


Minimum number of participants is 5 and maximum number of participants is 20.