COURSE OUTLINE: BS4004

Course Title

Current Topics in Immunology

Course Code

BS4004

Offered Study Year 4, Semester 1
Course Coordinator Su I-Hsin (Assoc Prof) IHSu@ntu.edu.sg 6513 8687
Pre-requisites BS2004, BS2007
No of AUs 3
Contact hours Lectures: 20, Tutorials: 11, Technology-enhanced Learning: 10
Approved for delivery from AY 2018/19, semester 1
Last revised 19 Oct 2018, 09:29

Course Aims

This course aims to explore current topics of Immunological research in depth. In this course, you will learn how to critically review scientific findings in the field of immunology, and subsequently ask valid scientific questions. Thus, the course will extend your knowledge and further develop your critical thinking skills in the context of immunological research. You are expected to read and interpret original research publications and perform extensive literature search on selected topics in immunology. In addition to the 10 lectures of selected subjects, this course also requires you to present an assigned research paper and compose an original research proposal. Finally, you will propose experimental strategies to solve the problems in the research proposal. In this way, you are encouraged to utilize the knowledge you have acquired throughout your studies, instead of just memorizing facts. This course should help you to develop some of the problem solving skills required for a career in research.

Intended Learning Outcomes

Upon successfully completing this course, you should be able to:

  1. Interpret research papers in the field of immunology
  2. Gather and analyse relevant information from online resources
  3. Identify current immunology topics and concepts which require further research
  4. Propose approaches to solve problems in immunology
  5. Develop hypotheses based on existing immunological research data
  6. Work in teams to analyse and summarise research papers

Course Content

Animal models used in immunology research

Immunotherapy

Immune Memory

Investigating antigen-specific T cell responses in humans

Gut immunity and microbios

Cellular signaling cascade in innate immunity

Assessment

Component Course ILOs tested SBS Graduate Attributes tested Weighting Team / Individual Assessment Rubrics
Continuous Assessment
Technology-enhanced Learning
Essay 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 1. a, c, d
2. a, b, d, e, f
3. a, b, c, e, f
4. a
5. a, b, c, d, e
6. c
7. a, b, c, d
30 both See Appendix for rubric
Short Answer Questions 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 1. a, b, c, d
2. a, b, d, e, f
3. a, b, c, e, f, g
4. a
5. a, b, c, d, e
6. c
7. a, b, c, d
25 both See Appendix for rubric
Tutorials
Essay 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 1. a, b, c, d
2. a, b, d, e, f
3. a, c, e
4. a
5. a, c, d, e
6. c
7. a, b, c, d
15 both See Appendix for rubric
Examination (3 hours)
Essay 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 1. a, b, c, d
2. a, b, d, e, f
3. c, e
4. a
5. c, d, e
6. c
7. a, b
30 individual See Appendix for rubric
Total 100%

These are the relevant SBS Graduate Attributes.

1. Recognize the relationship and complexity between structure and function of all forms of life, resulting from an academically rigorous in-depth understanding of biological concepts

a. Possess a conceptual framework that identifies the relationships between the major domains in the field of biology.

b. Explain the relationship between structure and function of all forms of life at the molecular level

c. Explain the relationship between structure and function of all forms of life at the cellular level

d. Explain the relationship between structure and function of all forms of life at the organism level

2. Critically evaluate and analyze biological information by applying the knowledge, scientific methods and technical skills associated with the discipline

a. Identify the assumptions behind scientific problems and issues

b. Create and evaluate hypotheses

d. Design experiments relevant to authentic problems and their models

e. Analyze the validity of qualitative and quantitative scientific data

f. Evaluate results in primary biological literature

3. Develop and communicate biological ideas and concepts relevant in everyday life for the benefit of society

a. Simplify and explain scientific concepts and results of experiments to a non-biologist (avoiding jargon)

b. Display and explain scientific results clearly and persuasively to peers both verbally and in writing (includes the ability to graph data appropriately and accurately).

c. Demonstrate an understanding of the recursive nature of science, where new results continually modify previous knowledge

e. Discuss current critical questions in the field of biology

f. Demonstrate an understanding of the social and natural context of knowledge (role of science in society, influence of society on science)

g. Demonstrate an understanding of the history of ideas and development of the major fields of biology

4. Acquire transferable and entrepreneurial skills for career development

a. Demonstrate innovative approaches to solving problems in biological science, leading to new approaches or techniques

5. Develop communication, creative and critical thinking skills for life-long learning

a. Learn independently and then share that knowledge with others

b. Learn collaboratively and be willing to share expertise with peers

c. Demonstrate critical thinking skills such as analysis, discrimination, logical reasoning, prediction and transforming knowledge

d. Question the assumptions, sources, and contexts of scientific investigation

e. Demonstrate good observation skills and a curiosity about the world

6. Develop codes of social responsibility and scientific ethics, particularly in relation to biological advancement and applications

c. Respect regulations involving plagiarism and copyright

7. Demonstrate information literacy and technological fluency

a. Locate and evaluate information needed to make decisions, solve problems, design experiments, and understand scientific data

b. Work effectively with common technologies in biology

c. Evaluate and use biological databases (literature and public datasets)

d. Complete online learning independently

Formative Feedback

During lecture hours, we will conduct iCloud survey to evaluate the overall understanding of students about the specific topics. Any issues will be addressed immediately in class. In the second half of semester, during the seminar based tutorial, topic lecturer and coordinator will give feedback on students’ presentation by asking question and stimulate discussion. At the end of semester, we assign two hours for students to discuss with topic lecturer in small group. Students will have the opportunity to defend their group research proposal and the topic lecture will make comments and suggestions on students’ research proposal. The score for group research proposal is finalized after this discussion session with adjustment for individual performance.

Learning and Teaching Approach

Lectures
(20 hours)

Lecturer will provide background information about specific topic and use experimental examples to explain how knowledge is generated. Citations are also provided, if students are interested, they can check on the original publications.

This addresses Intended Learning Outcomes: 1,2,3,4

Tutorials
(11 hours)

Students are required to read assigned research papers before class and complete online assignments. Students should have sufficient knowledge to understand the presentation and participate in the discussion.

This addresses Intended Learning Outcomes: 1,2,3,4,5,6

Technology-enhanced Learning
(10 hours)

After reading the assigned paper and search for references from online resources, the students are required to submit individual answer online. After submitting their individual answers, they have to discuss as a group to come up with a group answer and submit their group answer online. The group answers will be evaluated by the entire class after each presentation session online. The presenting group will be evaluated by classmates online based on overall clarity and interpretation.

This addresses Intended Learning Outcomes: 1,2,3,4,5,6

Reading and References

1. Relevant recent research papers (updated each year)

2. Relevant paragraphs from any of the following Text books:

The Immune System (adapted from Immunology by Charles A Janeway)
Peter Parham, Garland Science

The Immune response: Basic and Clinical Principles
Tak W. Mak and Mary E. Sauders

Kuby- Immunology
Kindt, Goldsby and Osborne

Cellular and Molecular Immunology
Abul K. Abbas and Andrew H. Lichtman

Course Policies and Student Responsibilities

Students are expected to participate in all team-based activities and complete online assignments on time. Self-motivated problem solving is encouraged and rewarded for students taking this module.

Academic Integrity

Good academic work depends on honesty and ethical behaviour. The quality of your work as a student relies on adhering to the principles of academic integrity and to the NTU Honour Code, a set of values shared by the whole university community. Truth, Trust and Justice are at the core of NTU’s shared values.

As a student, it is important that you recognize your responsibilities in understanding and applying the principles of academic integrity in all the work you do at NTU. Not knowing what is involved in maintaining academic integrity does not excuse academic dishonesty. You need to actively equip yourself with strategies to avoid all forms of academic dishonesty, including plagiarism, academic fraud, collusion and cheating. If you are uncertain of the definitions of any of these terms, you should go to the Academic Integrity website for more information. Consult your instructor(s) if you need any clarification about the requirements of academic integrity in the course.

Course Instructors

Instructor Office Location Phone Email
Su I-Hsin (Assoc Prof) 02n-46 6513 8687 IHSu@ntu.edu.sg

Planned Weekly Schedule

Week Topic Course ILO Readings/ Activities
1

Topic 1: B cell differentiation and immune memory
Part-a: B cell development and activation

Animal models used in immunology research

1, 2, 4, 5, 6
2

Topic 1: B cell differentiation and immune memory
Part-b: Case study-dengue

1, 2, 3, 4
3

Topic 2: Gut immunity
Part-a: Basic

1, 2, 3, 4

assign groups

4

Topic 2: Gut immunity
Part-b: Dendritic cells

1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6

Topic 2 paper discussion

5

Topic 3: Cancer immunology
Part-a: Immune surveillance

1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6

Q & A for research proposal and other assignments

6

Topic 3: Cancer immunology
Part-b: Monocytes in cancer

1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6

Topic 1: Student presentation tutorial

7

Topic 4: Antigen specific T cell responses in human
Part-a: T cell developments and subsets

1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6

Topic 2: Student presentation tutorial

8

Topic 4: Antigen specific T cell responses in human
Part-b: Antiviral responses in human

1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6

Topic 3: Student presentation tutorial

9

Topic 5: Cellular signaling in innate immunity
Part-a: Basic mechanisms

1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6

Topic 4: Student presentation tutorial

10

Topic 5: Cellular signalling in innate immunity
Part-b: Case study

Working in group for research proposals and short presentation

1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6

Topic 5: Student presentation tutorial
submit group proposal

11

Research proposal feedback discussion in small group (2 hrs, with short presentations from students)

1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6
12

Work on and submit individual abstract

1, 2, 3, 4, 6

Appendix 1: Assessment Rubrics

Rubric for Technology-enhanced Learning: Essay (30%)

I. Group presentation (15%)

Peer review based assessment with adjustment for individual performance by lecturers.

Students are required to answer following peer review questions:

Question 1: The presentation was:

  • Very clear and I fully understand the paper (5) *
  • Good and I understand the take home message (4)
  • Neutral, I understand what was presented (3.5)
  • Not clear, but I was able to understand some of the figures (3)
  • Very bad I was lost during the presentation (1.0)

Question 2: The Q & A session was:

  • Making perfect sense and they were discussing the questions I had (5)
  • Useful and I can follow and understand the discussion (4)
  • OK, the discussion was interesting (3)
  • OK, but I was not interested (2)
  • I had no clue what they were talking about (1)

Question 3: Overall about this session;

  • I read the paper and I understand the paper better after this session (5)
  • I read the paper and I don’t completely agree with what was presented or discussed (3)
  • I read the paper but I don’t understand the presentation or discussion (1)
  • I did not read the paper but I understand the presentation and discussion (4)
  • I did not read the paper and I also do not understand the presentation and discussion (3)

* Numbers in brackets indicate the awarded marks, which will be multiplied by the percentage of students selected this option for the calculation of final grade for this question.

II. Group research proposal (15%)

Evaluated by topic lecturer with adjustment for individual contribution during

discussion feedback session. The total mark of 100 will be scaled to 15%. Research proposal grading criteria;

a) Title (short and clear, less than 120 characters) (5 marks)

b) Introduction: (less than 400 words) (40 marks )

Briefly sketch the background to the current proposal, critically evaluate existing knowledge and specifically identify the questions that you

want to address in your proposal and why it is important.

c) Experimental approaches (divides into 2-3 Specific Aims) (50 marks )

  • Each Specific Aim should start with a concise sub-title and follow by a short description about the broad objectives of this Specific Aim.
  • Each Specific Aim should include a brief experimental design and the procedure to be used to accomplish this Specific Aim.
  • Expected results (just description, don’t provide fake result figures) and pitfalls of proposed experiments, as well as alternative approaches should be briefly discussed.

d) References (5 marks)

List in chronological order the full titles and complete references to recent representative publications pertinent to this research proposal.

Do not exceed 1500 words for part b) plus c). Part b) should not exceed 1/4 of the total word count. This limit does not apply to words found in the figure or table legends (use figure and table wisely and it should be concise).

The marking criteria by topic lecturers;

  1. Exceeding standard (>80 marks )

    All of the arguments and examples are specific, relevant and experiments are proposed that could solve the identified scientific questions.

  2. Meet standards (79-60 marks)

    Most of the arguments and examples are specific, relevant and experiments are proposed that could solve the identified scientific questions.

  3. Approaching standards (59-40 marks )

    At least one of the arguments and examples are specific, relevant and experiments are proposed that could solve the identified scientific questions.

  4. Below standards (<40 marks)

    The arguments, examples and experiments are NOT relevant for the identified scientific questions.

Rubric for Technology-enhanced Learning: Short Answer Questions (25%)

Ten out of the 25 marks are awarded as long as students submit their individual answer in time. The remaining 15 marks will be awarded based on peer review. The top 3 group answers will be awarded full marks (3 marks per session), the next 3 answers for 1.5 marks per session and remaining group will be awarded 1 mark per session.

The selection of top 3 answers by students is based on

1) whether the reasoning is logical

2) whether the purpose of the experiment is clearly stated

3) whether the answer provides a unique perspective for the interpretation of experimental data.

Rubric for Tutorials: Essay (15%)

After working in groups for group presentation and group research proposal, student should submit an individual proposal summary. The student can either summarize their group proposal or comes up with a new proposal.

a) Title (short and clear, less than 120 characters, different from your group proposal)

b) Proposal Summary: (less than 500 words)

Briefly sketch the background to the current proposal (in 2-3 sentences), identify the question that you want to address in your proposal and explain why it is important (~5 sentences). Finally describe how you are going to address the question (~5 sentences).

The marking criteria by topic lecturers is as follows. Total marks will be scaled to 15%.

  1. Exceeding standard (>80 marks)
    All of the arguments and examples are specific, relevant and experiments are proposed that could solve the identified scientific questions.
  2. Meet standards (79-60 marks)
    Most of the arguments and examples are specific, relevant and experiments are proposed that could solve the identified scientific questions.
  3. Approaching standards (59-40 marks)
    At least one of the arguments and examples are specific, relevant and experiments are proposed that could solve the identified scientific questions.
  4. Below standards (<40 marks)
    The arguments, examples and experiments are NOT relevant for the identified scientific questions.

Rubric for Examination: Essay (30%)

Each topic lecturer will design one open book exam question. The assessment is based on the clarity, understanding and logical reasoning of the student in response to the question. Total marks will be scaled to 30%.

The marking criteria by topic lecturers;

  1. Exceeding standard (>80 marks)
    All of the evidence, arguments and examples are specific, relevant and explanations are given that show how each piece of evidence supports the topic.
  2. Meet standards (79-60 marks)
    Most of the evidence, arguments and examples are specific, relevant and explanations are given that show how each piece of evidence supports the topic.
  3. Approaching standards (59-40 marks)
    At least one or two of the pieces of evidence, arguments and examples are specific, relevant and explanations are given that show how each piece of evidence supports the topic.
  4. Below standards (<40 marks)
    Evidence, arguments and examples are NOT relevant AND/OR are not explained.

Appendix 2: Intended Affective Outcomes

As a result of this course, it is expected you will develop the following "big picture" attributes:

Develop scientific curiosity

Develop a view about the necessity for broad-based immunological interventions

Develop confidence in analysing new threats from diseases

Develop a desire to figure out problems by themselves

Be willing to contribute to team outcomes

Be willing to and able to complete online learning tasks on time