Immunity-Cancer Connected

Dit vak wordt in het Engels aangeboden. Omschrijvingen kunnen daardoor mogelijk alleen in het Engels worden weergegeven.

Doel vak

Course 1. Immunology: challenges in clinical immunology

Students are able to:
• acquire insight into both clinical parameters as well as basic
scientific principles playing a role in the diseases studied
• learn to understand the mechanism by which the immune system is
de-regulated within diseases such as MS, IBD, celiac disease, RA and
cancer; the limitations of treatment and how to modify the immune
response to the benefit of the patient
• apply the acquired knowledge of interpreting some of the scientific
literature and scientific hypotheses concerning each of the disease
topics described above, by presenting it to their fellow students
• identify the current lack of knowledge of disease mechanisms and
limitations of treatment
• formulate a research proposal and a work plan to fill this gap, using
the acquired knowledge

Course 2. Immune system challenges: understanding immune evasion through
pathogens and the strategies to eradicate them

Students are able to:
• acquire knowledge of host-pathogen interactions
• understand the basic principles of chronic infections, infections in
immune-deficient patients and the risk of infections caused by the
treatment of cancer through bone marrow transplantation or chemotherapy
• describe treatment options and associated problems for various
infectious diseases
• understand the problems associated with antibiotic/antimicrobial
• gain exposure to the critical reading of scientific articles and
present their findings to each other (in English)

Course 3. Cancer: from basic science to clinical breakthroughs

Students will learn about all spectrums of oncology, and be able to:
• reproduce basic principles of (virus-induced) tumor development; i.e.
the genetic, molecular, and cellular process that are out of balance in
• describe the characteristics, potentials and key elements of research
in oncology with emphasis on tumor immunology and immunotherapy
• link basic scientific research with clinical practice and vice versa
• begin to critically appraise scientific articles

Inhoud vak

Important clinically related research fields are connected through
immunological host-pathogen interactions that determine health and
disease. This module allows the student to appreciate these connections
and to acquire insight into various therapies either targeting or
utilizing the immune system to treat diseases. This module is of
specific interest for future oncologists, rheumatologists, neurologists,
gastroenterologists, pathologists, infectious disease specialists,
medical microbiologists, and internists.

The minor module Immunity-Cancer Connected includes 3 courses:
1: Immunology: challenges in clinical immunology
2: Immune system challenges: understanding immune evasion through
pathogens and the strategies to eradicate them
3: Cancer: from basic science to clinical breakthroughs

Course 1. Immunology: Challenges in clinical immunology
Coordinators: Prof. R. Mebius and Prof. Y. van Kooyk

The course “clinical immunology” is aimed at discussing the various
immune-related processes that play a crucial role in almost every
disease. It is often the balance within the immune system that
determines the outcome of a disease, ranging from tissue destruction to
complete cure.
To illustrate this point, we examine some aspects of the immune system
that can be seen as “out of balance,” resulting in chronic inflammatory
diseases, such as inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), celiac disease (CD),
multiple sclerosis (MS) and rheumatoid arthritis (RA).
On the other hand, a lack of immunity due to specific molecular
deficiencies can result in cancer. Cutting edge achievements in the
field of cancer therapy through immune system modulation are highlighted
and discussed, as are several new technologies and mechanisms by which
to specifically activate the immune system to eliminate specific

The course begins with a clinical introduction of the disease by a
practicing VUmc clinician, using patient-specific examples to illustrate
some of the symptoms of cancer. After that, lectures, given by VUmc and
other national medical center experts, will explain the immunological
mechanisms that play a role in these complex diseases. These lectures
highlight state-of-the-art research using molecular, immunological
tools, as well as novel strategies such as genomic- profiling of the
disease, the use of animal models that mimic disease, as well as vaccine
development and treatment methodologies.
This course comprises lectures, team-based learning sessions, workgroup
discussions and presentations, literature reviewing, written English,
and defining research questions.

Course 2. Immune system challenges: understanding immune evasion through
pathogens and the strategies to eradicate them
Coordinators: Dr A.M. van der Sar and Prof. W. Bitter

The course “immune system challenges” is centered around the
interactions between host and pathogen and the clinical implications of
infectious diseases. We first discuss the nature of pathogens and how
they are able to mount a (chronic) infection within a host with a
well-developed immune system. AIDS, tuberculosis, and MRSA are
specifically touched on. Next, we focus on infectious diseases in
patients that are immunocompromised due to various reasons (inherited
immune deficiencies, HIV, immunotherapy, chemotherapy, transplantation).
In the second part, we discuss the treatment options and problems with
treatments in the light of the growing antimicrobial resistance of
pathogens. Lastly, we examine and discuss some of the complications of
infectious diseases, including autoimmune disorders, immunopathology,
and cancer. This course aims to provide the student with insight into
the ongoing battle between a host and its putative pathogens. Teaching
methods include lectures, workgroup discussions, and a literature

Course 3. Cancer: from basic science to clinical breakthroughs
Coordinators: Prof. A. van de Loosdrecht and Dr T. Mutis

This course aims to provide in-depth exposure to the field of oncology,
ranging from basic molecular biology to clinical bedside research. By
discussing several major tumor types, recent developments in oncological
research will be reviewed. Translation and application of new scientific
results into clinical practice is a major theme of this course.
Virus-induced oncogenesis and immunological processes accompanying tumor
development as well as opportunities to utilize the immune system to
combat cancer will also be topic of this course. As a physician, the
necessity to perform evidence-based medicine relies on the ability to be
able to analyze the scientific literature critically, and, as such, the
central question within this course is: How does biomedical knowledge
support clinical practice?

This course focuses on 3 major areas:
1) The development of early diagnostics to detect cancer in the earliest
phases, to increase the likelihood of curing a patient;
2) The development of personalized medicine strategies to select the
optimal treatment for an individual patient, based on the characteristic
biology of the disease;
3) Recent advances in tumor immunology as the induction of immunity
(immune therapy).

These topics will be discussed on the basis of several major tumor
types: breast cancer, colon cancer, hematological malignancies,
HPV-induced tumors (cervix and head and neck cancer) and lung cancer.
This course consists of plenary lectures, patient interviews,
workgroups, an excursion and a visit to the outpatient clinic.

The 3 courses within this module will primarily consist of plenary
lectures of key clinical specialists and researchers in the field of
immunology, infection biology and cancer. Patients interviews and visits
to the outpatient clinic are organized. Team-based learning sessions are
organized to allow the facilitation of in-depth critical thinking,
practical skills, as well as the analysis, interpretation and oral
presentation of scientific literature by the students. This is required
to prepare scientific debate- and research-related presentations.


Lectures, practicals, working groups


Course 1: MC-questions (70% of final mark) and research-related
presentations by the students (30% of final mark).

Course 2: includes a CAT with open and multiple choice questions (70% of
final mark) and a literature assignment (30% of final mark).

Course 3: includes a CAT (70% of final mark) and debating clubs (30% of
final mark).


An overview of the study material is posted on Canvas.


Bachelor’s students of VUmc School of Medical Sciences and external (and
international) students with a (bio)medical background.

Afwijkende intekenprocedure

Before the start of the semester, students will be invited to select their preferred minor track. However, the Institute of Education and Training (IET) will make a final selection based on both student preferences and availability in the different tracks. Once you have been selected for a track, the IET will make sure you’re registered for all educational activities such as study groups, courses, and exams. Important: Please be aware that in the case that you do not pass an exam, you will NOT be automatically registered for a re-examination, and will need to do this yourself. In order to sign up to resit an examination, you will need to apply no later than 2 weeks before the re-examination through the form “Re-take Exam Bachelor of Medicine.”

Toelichting Canvas

This course is supported by a corresponding CANVAS course, which
contains all of the required information of this course including
overview of the required articles and assignments. The CANVAS course
will also be used to post announcements relevant to the course. You will
automatically have access to the CANVAS course.

Algemene informatie

Vakcode M_BIICC16
Studiepunten 18 EC
Periode Semester 1
Vakniveau 300
Onderwijstaal Engels
Faculteit VUmc
Vakcoördinator prof. dr. R.E. Mebius
Examinator prof. dr. R.E. Mebius
Docenten T. Mutis MA

Praktische informatie

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Werkvormen Hoorcollege, Studiegroep, Practicum