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Immunity and metabolism of host cells and microbes


Admission requirements

  • Basic understanding of Immunology, Pathogen Host interactions and Cell Biochemistry. Successful completion of How To Write A Research Proposal is strongly recommended. Students should be available for all days during this 4-weeks course.

Period: March 30 – April 24, 2015


The student will obtain a broader and deeper insight into:

  • the interactions between metabolic cells (e.g. various fat cells and microbiota) and immune cells

  • the involvement of these metabolic cells in the control of immune responses

  • metabolic reactions within immune cells relating to their functional activities

  • the current challenges in these fields of research

The student needs to be able to:

  • formulate hypotheses regarding these challenges and also prepare an essay including a (small) experimental design to address such a hypothesis.

  • assess targets for therapy of infectious and immunological diseases using their knowledge of the immune systems and the metabolism of host cells and microbes


The main theme of this advanced course is a detailed understanding of the complex interactions between metabolically highly active cell types (such as fat cells and microbes) and immune (effector) cells that regulate the immune response. Furthermore, this course focuses on the metabolic pathways involved in the functioning of immune cells. It is expected that biomedical research into the interactions between these cells and metabolic active cells/their metabolic activities will lead to new therapies against infectious and immune-mediated diseases. This course will provide detailed insights into the latest developments in fundamental biological research aiming at understanding the complex interactions between metabolically highly active cells and immune effector cells as well as into some aspects of today’s clinical practice.


Week 1:
An introduction into the basic concepts of the effects of metabolically highly active cells and their metabolites on immune cells and the metabolic activities of immune cells as well as the effects of the microbiome and their metabolic products on the (human) defense systems, including lectures, interactive tutorials, and literature presentations and discussions by students.
Week 2 and 3:
In-lab trainings. In the second week students will choose between two research projects of choice and in the third week each student will choose between another two research projects of choice. During these two weeks the students will closely collaborate with PhD students involved in the research lines of choice of the student. This intensive in-lab training period consists of both theoretical and practical work.
During this period the student will have familiarised her/himself with the various topics allowing her/him to prepare a research proposal in the field of the topic of choice in week 4. As this assignment is very intensive students will start with their research proposal already in week 2 of this course.
Week 4
of the course students will present their proposals both orally and in writing.


This course will in particular train the students in:
Research competences:
Digesting knowledge reported in the scientific literature and in opinions from others, formulating and motivating one’s own opinions. In-lab training related to a research project, defining a research question, writing a research proposal, analysing data with tutors, choosing appropriate techniques, integrate different biomedical disciplines in the design of a research question, design methods, and implement these new research tools, formulate research questions of the future.

Professional competences:
Commitment, motivation and drive, collaborating with peers, respecting the rules of the group. Ability to multi-task (work at several assignments, different topics during the course). Writing reports and research proposals.

Mode of instruction

Lectures, patient examples, self-study, work groups, in-lab training, research proposal.
Pro-active behaviour is expected from the student.

Assessment method

Written reports/research proposal, oral presentations, student performance.

Recommended prior knowledge

  • Alberts B. et al, Molecular Biology of the Cell, 4th ed. 2002 New York: Garland. Chapter 15.

  • Parham P. The Immune System, recent edition, new York and London, Garland.