Immunity, Infection and Chronic Disease

Module code: BS4309

In spite of important advances over the past half century in combating infectious diseases, they remain a major challenge for humanity, especially because of the emergence of previously undescribed pathogens such as HIV, SARS, and H5N1, the increasing problem of antimicrobial resistance  (notably in tuberculosis), and the refractory problem of malaria. The scale of these problems is recognised by the World Health Organisation and described in its Global Burden of Disease Study.  

In this module you will learn about the molecular and cellular biology of the key pathogens (viral, prokaryotic and eukaryotic) which currently threaten human populations, and the mechanisms that account for the pathogenesis of many of these diseases. We will then consider the host immune responses which combat these infections and the complex interactions involved in raising and resolving an immune response to infection. You will learn the mechanisms underlying immunity, and factors controlling resistance and susceptibility to infection, including latent and chronic infections. In addition to immunity, we will discuss the mechanisms of action of drugs and other antimicrobial therapies, in particular, the details of antibiotic action and resistance.

Topics covered


  • Infection and disease
  • Natural history of infection
  • Biology of prokaryotic and eukaryotic pathogens
  • Antimicrobial agents
  • Mechanisms of bacterial pathogenesis
  • Tuberculosis
  • Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV)/AIDS
  • Plasmodium spp and Malaria
  • Vibrio cholera and Campylobacter 
  • Streptococcus pneumoniae


  • Cells and tissues of the immune system
  • Cytokines in inflammation and the immune response 
  • Introduction to complement
  • Complement as a link between innate and adaptive immunity
  • Allergy and auto-immunity
  • T and B cell repertoires
  • Toll-like Receptors (TLRs) in the immune response
  • Antigen presentation and MHC molecules
  • Immunology of infectious disease
  • Immune response to Listeria 
  • Immune response to Streptococcus pneumoniae
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