BGS Home » Current Students » Academics » Course Information » Fall 2007 Course List » IMUN 506 Immune Mechanisms

IMUN 506 Immune Mechanisms

Course Director:

David Allman
230 John Morgan Building
215-746-5547 (office)


COURSE GOALS: There are several goals: First, we will introduce you to basic principles, as well as current and emerging concepts in immunology.  Second, we want you to think with considerable depth about how these principles and concepts were shaped through experiment, as well as their implications, limits and caveats.  Third, the lectures, readings and exams should hone your ability to think clearly and critically about the interpretation of data and the design of experiments.  Finally, we expect you to leave with a foundation that will enable you to keep abreast of the field through reading and critical appraisal of the literature.

COURSE DESCRIPTION: The course will be taught from an experimental standpoint and assume basic knowledge of the immune system. To the greatest extent possible, it will use the primary literature, with reference to texts for background information. We will begin with a brief overview of innate and adaptive immune processes, followed by in depth considerations of the underlying cellular, molecular, and genetic events. Following this, mechanisms governing immune activity and homeostasis at the organism level will be considered. 

EXAMS AND GRADING: There will be two exams, a mid-term and a final. Both will be closed book and in-class exams. The exact format of these will be announced prior to each exam, but both will consist of essay or brief answer questions based upon experimental descriptions and/or data. Each exam will be marked based on a maximum possible score of 100. Final letter grades will be determined solely by exam performance. The class-wide distribution of final scores will be used to determine the range that corresponds to a particular letter grade. 

READINGS: Each lecturer will assign up to three readings/lecture from the primary literature. Further, some lecturers have provided a more extensive (but not requisite) list for your benefit, should you wish to expand your depth or background in certain areas. Background readings using the following recommended texts may also be suggested by individual lecturers, although I would emphasize that in the end it is each students’ responsibility to ascertain how much background reading he/she needs and what specific readings would be beneficial. The recommended texts to be used for background reading are:

 Immunobiology (6th edition), by Janeway, Travers, Walport, and Shlomchik; Garland Press.

Fundamentals of Immunology (5th edition) by Paul (ed). Raven Press

Both are available in the University bookstore, Dolby, or via

You will need to download pdf’s for assigned and suggested readings from the primary literature, as well as reading lists and outlines provided by individual lecturers, from a Blackboard web site assigned to Immun 506. To access this site you will need to know your PENNKEY and password. The URL for Blackboard sites at Penn is: