University of Minnesota Center for Immunology, Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA
Course Directors: Drs Stephen C. Jameson and Michael A. Farrar
Shem Peter Mutua Mutuiri, PhD student,
Tropical Infectious Diseases Department, Institute of Primate Research, Nairobi, Kenya
“The training highlighted advances in Immunology with emphasis on ongoing research. It was an eye opening training, detailing both the historical discovery aspects in Advanced Immunology and the recent confirmation or annulment of the theories. The Course Facilitators were drawn from various fields of Immunology, where they were gurus and involved in up-to-date research in murine models and clinical studies. The course was structured into a module system with the sessions following one another in an inter-relating manner, ensuring a constructive build up of content despite the diversity of the topics. In addition, each speaker was more elaborate in the area presented ensuring a deep insight into recent advances.
The course material was provided in two books with printouts of the modules covered by the faculty. Book one covered the initial overview of the course: Anatomy of the Immune Response; Molecule Recognition Motifs, NK Cells, Their Receptors and Function in Health and Disease; Molecular and Cellular Mediators of Inflammation; Dendritic Cells; Generation and Modification of Lymphocyte Antigen Receptor Genes; B Cell Development; T Cell Development; Lymphocyte Trafficking; MHC-restricted Antigen presentation to T Cells; Lymphocyte Memory; and Signaling from Antigen Receptors. This provided a background of past and recent advances in immunology providing a foundation for their current use in research and application in clinical immunology as detailed in Book 2. The later covered: Mucosal Immunity; Immune Responses to Pathogens; T and B Cell Tolerance and Autoimmunity; Immunobiology of Transplantation; Asthma and Allergy; Immunotherapy; Tumour Immunology. This system provided the application of most of the recent advances in Immunology to Clinical practice, with case studies of Research to Policy given.
The course provided an ample environment for interaction with the faculty currently involved in up-to-date research. This was not only eye-opening but provided the opportunity for networking and sharing of ideas. The modular structure was appropriate for an advanced course. Most of the faculty had videos and animations illustrating or highlighting the key areas of interest. However, the course was devoid of laboratory sessions, which would have come in handy for most of the participants. This would not have been possible given the time available. I would therefore recommend a longer training, incorporating practical lessons in Advanced Immunological Techniques. Time limitations also resulted in rushing through some of the sections and thus additional days would ensure more time for the speakers. Nonetheless, this will need to be commensurate with funding for the additional days.
In conclusion, the training was not only appropriate for young scientists but provided an avenue for established scientists to pass on the knowledge and interact with inquisitive minds ready to learn and undertake life changing research. This will ensure that I am a fruitful member of the Kenyan Society of Immunology (KSI) and International Union of Immunological Societies (IUIS) to provide solutions to present and future challenges in Immunology.
I would like to thank the University of Nairobi and Institute of Primate Research, more so my supervisor Dr. Thomas Kariuki for giving me the chance to attend this training. I would like to thank IUIS for the travel award that not only gave me the chance to attend this great course in Immunology but also a life changing chance to tour the Twin Cities. I would also like to thank the AAI facilitators more so Dr. Mary Litzinger, Clayton Moore and Annette Bethke for ensuring the course ran smoothly and the Course Faculty for in depth lectures that were well structured and presented with updates where necessary, which fostered exchange of knowledge and skills. I wish to thank the Executive Director of AAI, Dr. Michelle Hogan, the Course Director Dr. Stephen Jameson and the Course Co-Director Dr. Michael Farrar for their sacrifice and dedication. As AAI nears marking the centurion celebrations, such trainings will ensure the successful advancement of Immunology not only in established laboratories in the 1st world but also in laboratories in developing countries.”
Sudhir Kumar, Ph.D Student
Department of Biochemistry, All India Institute of Medical Science, New Delhi, India
“I am highly indebted to AAI and the IUIS Education Committee for providing an excellent opportunity for me to attend this course. I am heartily acknowledging the IUIS for providing the travel award, and AAI for the registration and accommodation for this course. I also show appreciation to the Drs. Stephen Jameson and Michael Farrar of the University of Minnesota, Minneapolis for conducting this course very nicely.
The theme of this course was really very informative. Nowadays, Immunology has become quintessential for both basic and medical sciences. The topics in this course have covered almost all the frontal area of immunology from Innate and Adaptive Immune System to Regulation and Effector functions. Information provided by the leading experts in immunology was quite instructive and helpful to understand the basis of Immune Responses, Immunologic Mechanisms in Diseases, Inflammation, Cytokine world, as well as how immunological concepts can be exploited for diagnosis and generation of effective drugs for the treatment of auto inflammatory/autoimmune as well as other diseases.
I am thankful to Dr. Michelle Letarte, Chair of the IUIS Education Committee and Dr. Mary Litzinger, Manager of AAI Educational and Career Development Programs, for constant communication and support for attending this course.”
Alberta Ayinkeh Davis, PhD student
Medical Research Council Unit, The Gambia; Open University, Milton Keynes, UK
“I had a great experience at the AAI course! First of all, the course was well organized and taught by a stellar group of lecturers who are leading researchers in their various areas. The lectures were linked, making them easy to follow as each built up to the next one.
I am indeed glad to have had the opportunity to attend this course as it has broadened my basic understanding of innate immunity, its mediators, and the processes that lead to the development of a functional acquired immunity in response to disease and pathogens. The lecture on lymphocyte memory by Dr. Stephen Jameson helped to answer many questions I had about the role and mechanisms involved in T cell memory, which is beneficial to me in my research. As my research involves understanding host responses that mediate different outcomes in HIV-2 infection, the lecture on immune response to pathogens was naturally one of my favorites. It helped me understand in depth, the various mechanisms involved and their components, and I was able to apply some of this knowledge in designing some assays for my research a few weeks after the course. Each lecture honed in on the core principles of immunology, highlighting new approaches in research methods, and their relevance in understanding disease pathogenesis, which has implications for disease management.
The most interactive part of the course was getting to meet and talk to the other course participants. It was very interesting to learn about the kind of research they were involved in and some of their lab experiences in their institutions.
Although the course was pretty intensive, there were a few free evenings during which I was able to explore a bit of the twin cities campus. Overall, it was a really good course, which got me thinking a lot about my research and expanded my knowledge of immunology. I thank the IUIS for making it possible for me to attend the 2011 AAI course – I had a wonderful time.”
Dr. Stephen Jameson, Peter Mutua Mutuiri, Sudhir Kumar, Alberta Davis and Dr Michele Hogan