Molecular Infection Biology


Course Objective

• To understand how the interaction of a pathogen with its host is
studied (in vitro studies, use of alternative in vivo models, different
approaches of mutant screening)
• To understand the variation within microbial pathogens and the effect
this variation has on host adaptation.
• To understand what virulence factors are and how they are regulated
by the pathogen.
• To apply the acquired knowledge to interpret scientific literature
and scientific hypotheses regarding pathogen-host interactions.

Course Content

The recent explosion in genomic data of both microbes and eukaryotic
hosts and the continuous progress in molecular biology allows a
detailed analysis of the molecular interactions between a pathogen and
its host. This knowledge is necessary because we are continuously
exposed to new emerging pathogens and the resurgence of old plagues and
need new vaccines and anti-microbial compounds. However, which
technique should and could be used for a specific problem and how to
interpret conflicting outcomes using different experimental strategies?
This course aims to provide a thorough understanding and practical
experience of molecular biology as it applies to infectious agents. The
course covers the application of molecular biology to studying the
basic biology of pathogenic bacteria and viruses (their virulence
factors, taxonomy and genetic typing) and the genetic susceptibility of
the host to infection. It aims to equip students with the specialised
knowledge and skills necessary to assess primary literature on medical

Teaching Methods

The course has three different parts: lectures, practicals and workshop.
In the latter part students will discuss with each other opposing views
on controversial topics in medical microbiology that recently appeared
in the literature.

Lectures: 20h
Literature Workshop: 16-20h
Practicals: 30-40h

Method of Assessment

• written exam (50% of final mark and should be minimally 5,5)
• literature discussion (workshop, 25% of final mark)
• practicals (25% of final mark)

Entry Requirements

Bachelor's course 'Infectious Diseases' and 'Immunology' or an
course in Microbiology and Molecular Biology with practical skills of
handling microorganisms safely


Reader will be made available online a week before the start of the

Target Audience

Students with a keen interest to study the interaction between a
pathogen and its host, from a practical as well as a theoretical point
of view

Additional Information

Guest lectures:
Dr. Peter van der Ley, RIVM Bilthoven, molecular techniques used for
vaccine development
Dr. Lia van der Hoek, AMC Amsterdam, identification of novel viral

General Information

Course Code AM_470657
Credits 6 EC
Period P2
Course Level 600
Language of Tuition English
Faculty Faculty of Science
Course Coordinator prof. dr. W. Bitter
Examiner prof. dr. W. Bitter
Teaching Staff prof. dr. W. Bitter

Practical Information

You need to register for this course yourself

Last-minute registration is available for this course.

Teaching Methods Lecture, Practical