Immunology Graduate Group

Immunology Home » Courses


Requirements | Coursework Schedule | Electives | Course Descriptions | Ethics Training | Other Activities


In order to remain in good standing, all students must demonstrate understanding of course material by:

Completing examinations
Writing the appropriate assignments
Achieving a final minimum grade of B in each course.





BIOM 600 Cell Biology and Biochemistry
IMUN 506 Immune Mechanisms
IMUN 599 Faculty Research Seminar
IMUN 601 Cellular Immunology
IMUN 699 First Laboratory Rotation
Journal Club

BIOM 555 Eukaryotic Gene Expression
BIOM 611 Biological Data Analysis
IMUN 507 Immune Functions
IMUN 599 Faculty Research Seminar
IMUN 699 Second Laboratory Rotation
Journal Club



IMUN 699 Third Laboratory Rotation




IMUN 699 Third Lab Rotation (continued)
Journal Club

IMUN 899 Predissertation
Journal Club




IMUN 607 Grant Writing
IMUN 995 Dissertation Research

IMUN 995 Dissertation Research



The Electives taken during in fall of the second year and spring of the third year can be chosen from the recommended courses in BMB, CAMB, and INSC (below), but additional courses can be taken as electives beginning in the first year with permission of the IGG Chair and Curriculum Committee Chair.

Biochemistry and Molecular Biophysics

BMB 508 Macromolecular Biophysics (Fall)
BMB 550 Macromolecular Crystallography (Fall)


INSC 587 Neurobiology of Disease (Fall)

Cell and Molecular Biology

CAMB 600 Cell Biology (Fall)
CAMB 555 Eukaryotic Gene Expression (Spring)
CAMB 539 Prokaryotic Molecular Genetics (Fall)
CAMB 608 Regulation of Eukaryotic Gene Expression (Fall)
CAMB 545 Fundamental Virology (Spring)
CAMB 601 Advanced Virology Seminar (Fall)
CAMB 621 Seminar in Retroviral Biology (Spring)


IMUN 520 Elective Tutorials in Immunology (Fall)
IMUN 609 Vaccines and Immunotherapeutics (Fall)



IMUN 506 Immune Mechanisms

Course Directors: Michael May, PhD and Taku Kambayashi, MD, PhD
Fall: Monday 12:00 - 3:00 PM, Wednesday/Friday 1:00 - 3:00 PM
Prerequisite: permission of course director
Credits: 1 CU

This course assumes basic knowledge of the immune system. The course is a team-taught, lecture-based course that utilizes experimental data from the primary literature to examine basic cellular and molecular aspects of the immune system. The course begins with general overviews, moves to more detailed introductions of innate and adaptive immune cells, and then examines the activation and integration of innate and adaptive immune mechanisms. Several sessions focusing on presentation and discussion of primary papers will follow lectures that cover related topics.

IMUN 507 Immune Responses

Course Directors: Michael May, PhD and Taku Kambayashi, MD, PhD
Prerequisite: IMUN 506
Spring: Tuesday/Thursday 1:00 - 3:00 PM
Credits: 1 CU

This course assumes basic knowledge of the immune system. The course
is a team taught, lecture-based course that utilizes experimental data from the primary literature to examine basic cellular and molecular aspects of the immune system. The course is an extension of Immunology 506 and focuses on advanced topics in immunology and specific examples of immunological diseases. Several sessions focusing on presentation and discussion of primary papers will follow lectures that cover related topics.

IMUN 520 Elective Tutorials in Immunology

Course Director: Carolina Lopez, PhD
Prerequisites: a senior undergraduate, graduate or professional school course in immunology
Fall: arranged individually by students and faculty
Credits: 1 CU

This tutorial course is designed to provide students with an in-depth knowledge of a specific branch of Immunology. The tutorial can be used to enable students to become more deeply acquainted with the literature related to their thesis projects or to expand on a topic that the student found interesting in one of their basic courses. This course is open as an elective to all BGS students who meet the pre-requisite.

IMUN 599 Faculty Research Seminar

Course Directors: Gregory Beatty, MD, PhD and Laura Su, MD, PhD
Prerequisite: permission of graduate group chair
Fall and Spring: Thursday, 12:00 -1:00 PM
Credits: 0.5 CU

This is a two-semester course that is designed to expose students to the ongoing research of Penn Immunology faculty. The format of the course is presentations by individual faculty members on their laboratory research.

IMUN 601 Molecular Immunology

Course Director: Claudio Giraudo, PhD
Fall: Tuesday, 9:00 - 10:30 AM
Credits: 0.5 CU

This course is offered as a parallel course to introductory cell biology to specifically illustrate cell biological principles as they apply to the immune system. The course meets weekly and covers landmark immunology papers that advance our understanding of the immune system through the cell biology of immune cells. Specific concepts covered over the course of the semester include: imaging, intracellular traffic, molecular motors, quality control, ion chanels, intracellular gradients, cytoskeleton, and organization of signaling. The format includes student presentations linking basic cell biology to the immunological work to be discussed followed by a faculty-directed analysis of a paper with special emphasis on its cell biology. The course ends with a brief paper discussing a cell biological principle as illustrated by immune studies.

IMUN 607 Advanced Topics in Molecular and Cellular Immunology (Grant Writing and Review)

Course Director: Andrew Wells, PhD
Prerequisite: IMUN 605 or permission of director
Fall: Tuesday, 10:00 AM - 12:00 PM
Credits: 1 CU

The goals of this course are several. First, the basic principles of grant writing are introduced. In this regard, a primary objective of the course is to teach how to describe ideas and experimental objectives in a clear and concise manner within the standard NIH grant format. To accomplish this, students will be required to write an NIH “RO1” type grant proposal based on your current laboratory project.

The second goal is to sharpen oral presentation skills. Accordingly, students will be required to give a presentation describing the scientific background and experimental rationale for their proposals as well as a brief description of their research plans.

Third, we will provide some insights into how grants are processed and reviewed by the NIH. To this end, students will participate in a mock study section in which they will evaluate and score grants written by fellow students. There will also be a presentation from an NIH grants administration staff member, who will provide a description of how grants are assigned to particular institutes and study sections at the NIH and how grant applications are processed after the review process.

Finally, some of the administrative aspects of grant preparation will be addressed, including preparing a budget, routing grants through the system, and other items.

IMUN 609 Vaccines and Immunotherapeutics

Course Director: David Weiner, PhD
Prerequisite: biology, biochemistry, or immunology courses at the advanced college level
Fall: Wednesday/Thursday 3:00 - 5:00 PM
Credits: 1 CU

The goal of the Vaccines course is to expand on the students’ general understanding of the immune system and to focus this understanding towards the application of vaccination. Furthermore the course will give the student a sense of how these principles are applied to vaccine and immune therapeutic development. The course covers basic science as well as the clinical, ethical & political implications of Modern Vaccines.

Initial lectures will review immune mechanisms believed to be responsible for vaccine-induced protection from disease. Subsequent lectures build on this background to explore the science of vaccines for diverse pathogens, including agents of bioterrorism as well as vaccines for cancer. An appreciation for the application of laboratory science to the clinical development of vaccines is provided in the next section of the course along with lectures that focus on the ethical implications of vaccines in different situations. The financial implications of specific vaccines and their impact on the global community are a specific focus of the course.

IMUN 699 Laboratory Rotation

Prerequisite: permission of graduate group chair
Fall, Spring, Summer
Credits: 1 CU

Laboratory research is conducted with approval of the laboratory primary investigator. Three different rotations from the fall semester of the first year through the fall semester of the second year are required of Immunology PhD students. Research from rotations will be defended in preliminary examinations in May of the first year and in the mid-fall of the second year.



Students must understand what is considered ethical behavior in the biomedical research community. Both the BGS Office and the IGG require all students to attend at least one ethics training session per year to remain in good standing in the program. The BGS Office coordinates these sessions and notifies students of dates and times they are offered. The IGG faculty are required to participate in ethics training once every three years to remain in the group.



We realize that the majority of scientific information and experience is gained not only from one’s work on a project but also through interactions with other scientists. Often critical insights come from the most unexpected directions. Recognizing this fact, the IGG encourages and requires participation in both formal and informal forums that promote interactions with other scientists and the free exchange of ideas.

Immunology Colloquium and Journal Club
The first- and second-year students are required to attend the weekly IGG journal club and the Immunology Colloquium. The student-organized Journal Club meets weekly at a time agreeable to all the current students. At each meeting, a student presents one or two current publications of the seminar speaker scheduled for the next week’s Immunology Colloquium series. This exercise is to help students prepare for the material that will be presented at the seminar.

More senior students are strongly encouraged to attend both the journal club and colloquium, but the program realizes that in some cases other seminar programs and journal clubs may be more appropriate to their institutional obligations and interests.

Each year, the third-year class invites several distinguished scientists to visit the University as part of the Immunology Colloquium. The distinguished guest meets with faculty during the day, presents a seminar at the Immunology Colloquium series in the afternoon, and meets with students afterwards for an informal dinner. The dinner provides an opportunity to discuss science in a relaxed environment.

Annual Retreat
All students are required to attend the annual retreat. The retreat features an invited outside speaker and short talks and poster presentations by the Graduate Group trainees. All Immunology Graduate Group students beyond the first year will present each year at the Retreat. Postdoctoral fellows in the laboratories of Graduate Group faculty are also welcome to attend and present posters.

In addition, all students must give at least one presentation per year, preferably on the progress of his/her dissertation research. This can take the form of a presentation at the annual retreat or a presentation at a local or national meeting, or at the student chalkboard seminars held throughout the year.