Introduction: This module on innate immunity and recognition of antigen is one of three developed for second-year biomedical science MS and PhD students enrolled in a semester-long immunology graduate course titled Principles in Immunology. Topics covered by the remaining modules include basic concepts of immunology and receptor diversity and antigen presentation. Methods: This module uses a team-based learning format (TBL) to help learners understand the following immunological principles and how to apply them in experimental settings: function and pathways for activation of complement, effector mechanisms of innate immunity, antibody structure, T-cell receptor structure, major histocompatibility complex, molecule structure, and the molecular basis of antigen recognition by immunoglobulin and T-cell receptors. Students arrive at class having read preassigned readings. They first complete an individual Readiness Assurance Test, before completing the same test in groups. Students then remain in these groups while they complete a series of group application exercises. Results: Student satisfaction with TBL is very high, as assessed by course evaluations over the past 3 years. Students say that TBL helps them keep up with material and prepare for exams. Student performance on high-stakes exams has revealed modest improvements in overall scores. Student performance in a graduate-level immunology course did not drop after implementation of TBL, which involved replacing nine of 42 lectures throughout the semester with TBL sessions. Graduate students enjoy TBL, and learning appears to be enhanced. Discussion: Originally developed for second-year biomedical science MS and PhD students enrolled in a semester-long immunology graduate course, this material is also appropriate for basic science courses for medical and dental students and/or for review of immunology by residents and fellows.
By the end of this session, learners will be able to:
- Evaluate immunology experimental design related to innate immunity or the recognition of antigen by B-cells and/or T-cells by identifying or providing examples of appropriate controls, justifying the use of specific methods, and assessing whether or not a given method provides a desired measure.
- Interpret data provided for a given experimental protocol, including drawing conclusions based on the data, recognizing results that may not fit current understandings, and discussing results in the context of current concepts of immunology.
- Predict experimental results given an experimental protocol and relevant background information, including deciding between alternative experimental outcomes based on current immunology concepts and justifying predicted results in the context of established immunology concepts.
- Design an experiment to test a hypothesis, including identifying required reagents, cell lines, animal strains, etc.; proposing appropriate assays to measure experimental outcomes; organizing a sequence of experiments; and justifying the proposed design in the context of current immunology concepts.
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