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Immunology Course

Here are a few presentations covering only parts of an Immunology course I coordinated.

Occasionally a lecturer will request a few of my slides. There is nothing particularly fancy here, but, since slide preparation can be very time consuming, I am happy to share them if they are useful.

Wnen I took over coordination of the MIMM314 Immunology course offered by McGill University's Department of Microbiology and Immunology in 2001, I also had to be the first lecturer, so I passed on the topics of antigen presentation, T and B cell activation and effector functions to other professors newly recruited to the course. But I retained responsibility for the complement system, in part because it sensibly fits into the early development of an understanding of resistance and the immune system, but also because I was one of the few, it seems, who took pleasure in discussing its several activation pathways, balance between amplification and inhibition, multiple functions, and importance in the first line of defence against infection.

The first lectures were an introduction to the immune system. I thought it important to provide some historical perspective to elicit an appreciation of the great strides in understanding and techniques made within the context of very little knowledge and simple equipment. It also made sense to introduce some concepts and mechanisms which would be covered in much more detail later in the course. This provided a broader context for discussing the roles of some of the basic components and processes of the immune system.

Naturally, the first lectures deal a lot with innate responses to infection. One message being that the innate system is so efficient that we share an environment with a multitude of different microbes without being aware of their presence, and that pathogens are pathogens because they have evolved some ways to circumvent, trick, or overcome innate resistance to some extent. Furthermore, we are realizing that, having evolved with microbes, our bodies rely on the presence of some subset of microbes in order to function well. This is a very interesting and complex area of active research now, and we need young minds to be thinking more in this way, so that we can be humble in the face of considerable ignorance in this area, and approach the management of our microbial environment with more care and intelligence.

With some basic knowledge of the adaptive system, it was possible to discuss how it is underpinned by the innate responses.

Only in my last year (2011) of coordinating the course, when another imminent retirement opened a lecture slot in the middle of the course, I experimented with a new addition. With a few suggestive examples, we looked at cells which have some adaptive and innate system features, and thought about what their roles may be on the basis of preliminary research results. We looked at the distinct adaptive antigen binding proteins of the lamprey (an agnathan, or jawless vertebrate), and incidentally enjoyed a video demonstration of defensive sliming by hagfish (which can also snag them a potential meal, it seems). We also looked at the mast cell and its relatives in other species with a new respect for its functional versatility and evolution.

Below are the links for lecture slides printed to pdf files for easy viewing.

If there is anything you would like to use from my slides, download the zipped powerpoint files.

We used the textbook "Janeway's Immunobiology" (Garland Science), which I highly recommend (even though the Kenneth Murphy, who took command of the seventh edition after Charlie Janeway's untimely death, clumsily reversed the sensible change of C2 fragment nomenclature which Dr. Janeway had supported in the previous six editions!). You will see the many figures from that text book incorporated into the presentation. Other images, scanned or downloaded are referenced on the slides. The pictures of the famous immunologists will be found easily at the Nobel Laureate site or on their institution's web site via a Google search. It is enjoyable and educational to read their short biographies.

Here are the zipped slides (Note the size before you begin downloading)

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