Immunology

http://www.uab.edu/cas/immunology/

The UAB Undergraduate Immunology Program was established in 2016 as a joint program between the Department of Microbiology in the School of Medicine and the Department of Biology in the College of Arts and Sciences. The goal of the Immunology Major is to insure that undergraduates acquire knowledge in the fundamental aspects of Immunology, including the cells, organs and tissues that comprise the immune system and how the system functions as a whole to protect humans against infectious diseases. The science of Immunology is multidisciplinary and encompasses the study of both normal processes that confer protection and pathophysiological processes that cause disease. Normal processes include the response to microbial pathogens, vaccines and cancer, which confer "immunity". Abnormal functions of the immune system contribute to significant disease processes that include; asthma/allergy, autoimmunity, inflammatory syndromes (cancer, diabetes, heart disease, chronic neurological diseases), immunodeficiencies (both congenital and acquired), and transplant rejection.

The Undergraduate Immunology Program will provide students with a solid foundation in the core sciences, including chemistry, physics and biology. Students will be required to take inorganic, organic and biochemistry, as well as introductory biology, genetics, and the biology of microorganisms. Because the Undergraduate Immunology Program has a strong focus on these core sciences, majors will have the necessary foundation upon which to learn the principles of the immune system with respect to its normal and pathophysiological function. Moreover, because the Undergraduate Immunology Program requires students to take the core sciences as part of their curriculum, they will meet the prerequisites for entry into graduate and professional schools.

The Undergraduate Immunology Program and its Faculty will accomplish the goals of the program through four interrelated mechanisms. First, students will be provided an outstanding academic and intellectual foundation through their coursework in biology, chemistry, physics, mathematics and immunology. Second, students will be immersed in a laboratory research setting where they will learn state-of-the-art research techniques and methodologies that will enable them to address important questions in Immunology through one-on-one interactions with faculty mentors and research laboratory personnel. Third, students will be able to gain skills and knowledge related to the scientific method, critical thinking, problem solving, data analysis and scientific communication (both oral and written) that will allow them to become an integral member of a research team and to present their work at poster sessions at local, regional and national meetings. Fourth, students will be able to access academic and career counseling to determine the career path that is ideally suited to their interests, as well as to identify professional or graduate programs and how best to prepare to be highly competitive for entrance into such programs.

The Undergraduate Immunology Program is designed to prepare graduates to pursue careers in research or health-related professions. Successful graduates will be competitive for acceptance into highly competitive graduate or professional degree programs that will enable them to become accomplished scientists, clinicians and health-care professionals who will contribute to efforts to elucidate the function of the immune system as it relates to health and disease. Graduates will be at the forefront of efforts to fight emerging infectious diseases, to address global health problems, to develop new vaccines, or to find treatments for chronic diseases, including cancer, autoimmunity or asthma.

Admissions

The Undergraduate Immunology Program is designed for graduating high school seniors and college freshmen and sophomores with an outstanding academic record and the desire to pursue a career in biomedical research, medicine or the health professions. Successful applicants to the Program should meet the admissions criteria below.

High school students with a GPA of 3.5 or better and an ACT score of 28 or better will be considered for immediate acceptance into the Immunology Program. High school students who do not meet these requirements may be accepted into the program as pre-immunology majors. Any student who is admitted as a pre-immunology major must have an overall GPA ≥3.0 after 24 credits of work at UAB, a GPA ≥3.25 in their Biology, Chemistry, Physics and Mathematics (MA 105 and higher) coursework, and have taken a freshman year curriculum that is compatible with the Program.

Current UAB students and transfer students from other institutions who are freshmen or sophomores (non-direct admits) may select Immunology for their major, but must have an overall GPA ≥3.0 and must have demonstrated excellent academic performance in science/mathematics courses and have a GPA ≥3.25 in those courses.

Students must maintain an overall GPA ≥3.0 in order to remain in good academic standing in the Program. If a student’s overall GPA falls below 3.0, they will have one semester to bring their overall grade to 3.0 or better.

Those who wish to apply to the Program should contact the Program Directors (uip@uab.edu) for additional information. The Director, Dr. Justement and the Co-Director of the Program, Dr. Vithal Ghanta, are available to meet with high school students and their parents, or with current UAB students to discuss the program.

Advising and Information

Dr. Louis B. Justement

Program Director, Undergraduate Immunology

Professor of Microbiology

(205) 934-1429

lbjust@uab.edu

Dr. Vithal K. Ghanta

Program Co-Director, Undergraduate Immunology

Professor of Biology

(205) 934-4482

vghanta@uab.edu

Major in Immunology

RequirementsHours
Required courses: 1, 4
Biology
BY 123Introductory Biology I4
BY 124Introductory Biology II4
BY 210Genetics3
BY 271Biology of Microorganisms4
Chemistry
CH 115
CH 116
General Chemistry I
and General Chemistry I Laboratory
4
CH 117
CH 118
General Chemistry II
and General Chemistry II Laboratory
4
CH 235
CH 236
Organic Chemistry I
and Organic Chemistry I Laboratory
4
CH 237
CH 238
Organic Chemistry II
and Organic Chemistry II Laboratory
4
CH 460Fundamentals of Biochemistry3
Physics 28
College Physics I
and College Physics II
General Physics I
and General Physics II
Mathematics
MA 125Calculus I4
or MA 225 Calculus I - Honors
MA 180Introduction to Statistics3
or PUH 250 Biostatistics
Immunology
MIC 150Current Topics In Immunology1
MIC 250Seminars in Immunology1
MIC 275Introduction to the Immune System3
or BY 440 Immunology
MIC 401Foundations in Immunology: The Innate Immune System3
MIC 402Foundations in Immunology: The Adaptive Immune System3
MIC 403Foundations in Immunology: Microbial Pathogen-Immune System Interaction3
MIC 404Foundations in Immunology: Immunologically-Mediated Diseases3
Undergraduate Research 36
Undergraduate Research in Immunology & Host Defense
Honors Research in Immunology and Host Defense
Undergraduate Research Seminar in Immunology and Host Defense
Honors Research Seminar in Immunology and Host Defense
Total Hours72
1

 Students must satisfactorily complete a minimum of 120 semester hours (including Core Curriculum) with no grades lower than a C in the major.

2

 Complete either trig-based or calculus-based physics series.

3

 Undergraduate Research: Immunology Majors are required to be engaged in a minimum of 6 semester credit hours of research under the direction of a faculty member beginning no later than the first semester of their junior year. However, qualified students may identify a mentor and begin conducting research as early as their freshman year. Course credit will be provided via MIC 398, MIC 492*, MIC 498 or MIC 499*. 

4

 Students must complete 18 hours of General Electives from Honors or any Core Area. The following are recommended but not required: BY 245 BY 330, BY 409 BY 433, BY 434, BY 437, BY 490, BY 491 GGSC 310, GGSC 410

Academic Performance: Immunology majors must maintain an overall GPA of 3.0 or better to remain in the program. Majors will be allowed one semester to raise their GPA.

Capstone Requirement: Students can fulfill their Capstone requirement by taking either MIC 403, MIC 404, MIC 492 or MIC 499 or BY 490 or BY 491. In order to receive Honors in Immunology, students must take MIC 499.

Honors Program in Immunology

Purpose

The Immunology Honors Program offers motivated students the opportunity to develop research, communication and responsible conduct of research skills in preparation for a professional career in research or the health professions.

Eligibility

To be accepted into the Immunology Honors Program, you must: 

  • Have completed at least 45 credit hours.
  • Have a GPA 3.5 in BY, CH and MIC courses.
  • Have a GPA 3.25 overall.
  • Have already completed BY 123 and 123L, BY 124 and 124L, BY 210, CH 115/116, and CH 117/118.
  • Have arranged with a faculty sponsor to do a research project and received approval from the Program Director.
  • Honors Research in Immunology and Host Defense can also be taken as part of the University Honors Programs.  Immunology majors generally enter their research labs in the fall semester of their junior year; however, they may begin their research work in the spring semester of their sophomore year or earlier with permission of the Program Directors.

Requirements

To successfully complete the Immunology Honors Program, students will need to: 

  • Complete the required Occupational Health and Safety training courses.
  • Take a minimum of 6 semester credit hours of MIC 498 Honors Research in Immunology and Host Defense. Each semester credit hour per term requires a minimum of 3 hours of laboratory work per week.
  • Submit a formal research proposal by the end of the first semester of Honors Research. The proposal should include a synopsis of the proposed research incorporating an introduction, proposed methods, and relevant literature review.
  • Take the Honors Research Seminar in Immunology and Host Defense (MIC 499) course during the junior or senior year. This course can be taken to fulfill the Capstone requirement.
  • Complete a formal written report in the form of a scientific paper.
  • Submit an oral or poster presentation at Biology Research Day or the UAB Expo during their junior or senior year. Under special circumstances, the poster may be presented at other times of the year pending approval of the Program Directors.
  •  

Immunology 4-Year Plan 

This schedule does not account for University or Science and Technology Honors Programs.

Freshman
First TermHoursSecond TermHours
MA 125 or 2254BY 1234
CH 115
CH 116
4CH 117
CH 118
4
CAS 1121EH 10213
EH 10113Core Area II or IV3
Core Area II or IV3MIC 1501
 15 15
Sophomore
First TermHoursSecond TermHours
CH 235
CH 236
4CH 237
CH 238
4
BY 12424BY 2103
Core Area II or IV3Core Area II or IV3
Core Area II or IV3MIC 275 or BY 44033
MIC 2501 
 15 13
Junior
First TermHoursSecond TermHours
MIC 4013PH 202 or 2224
BY 2714Core Area III3
PH 201 or 2214Core Area II or IV3
Core Area II or IV3MIC 4023
MIC 398 or 4981-3MIC 398 or 4981-3
 15-17 14-16
Senior
First TermHoursSecond TermHours
MA 180 or PUH 2503CH 4603
Core Area II or IV3MIC 4043
MIC 398 or 4981-3Core Area III3
MIC 4033MIC 492 or MA 4993
Core Area III3 
 13-15 12
Total credit hours: 112-118
1

 Often use AP credit for EH 101, can take EH 102 instead

2

 Sometimes taken summer after freshman year

3

 BY 440 requires permission of the program director.

Courses

MIC 150. Current Topics In Immunology. 1 Hour.

The goal of this seminar course is to present basic concepts in immunology as they relate to important current issues. The importance of the immune system in health and disease will be highlighted.

MIC 210. Special Topics in Immunology. 1-3 Hour.

This course covers introductory topics that are related to immunology and host defense.
Prerequisites: BY 123 [Min Grade: C] and BY 124 [Min Grade: C]

MIC 250. Seminars in Immunology. 1 Hour.

This seminar will feature a 30-minute introduction of a new basic concept in immunology followed by a 15-minute presentation from an individual faculty member who does research on that basic concept and a 15-minute discussion session.

MIC 275. Introduction to the Immune System. 3 Hours.

This course will provide a general overview of the immune system in protecting against microbial pathogens. The components of the immune system will be introduced, including the cells and tissues important for mediating immunity.
Prerequisites: BY 123 [Min Grade: C] and BY 124 [Min Grade: C]

MIC 310. Special Topics in Immunology. 1-3 Hour.

This course covers topics related to immunology and host defense.
Prerequisites: BY 123 [Min Grade: C] and BY 124 [Min Grade: C] and MIC 275 [Min Grade: C]

MIC 398. Undergraduate Research in Immunology & Host Defense. 1-3 Hour.

Research project under the supervision of a faculty sponsor. May be repeated for a total of 9 semester hours of credit. Students must have completed 12 semester hours of BY or MIC with a GPA of 3.0 and must receive permission of the instructor.

MIC 401. Foundations in Immunology: The Innate Immune System. 3 Hours.

This course will introduce the cells, receptors, signaling pathways and soluble mediators associated with the innate immune response. The basic components of the innate immune system will then be discussed in the context of their role in the physical, physiological, phagocytic and inflammatory barriers that comprise the innate immune system. Importantly, emphasis will be placed on the molecular and cellular mechanisms that are used by the innate immune system to detect and respond to microbial pathogens to provide the first line of defense.
Prerequisites: (BY 210 [Min Grade: C] and MIC 275 [Min Grade: C]) or BY 440 [Min Grade: C] and BY 271 [Min Grade: C](Can be taken Concurrently)

MIC 402. Foundations in Immunology: The Adaptive Immune System. 3 Hours.

This course will provide an in-depth analysis of the cells (T, B and antigen presenting cells), tissues (primary and secondary) and soluble factors (cytokines and chemokines) that comprise the adaptive humoral immune response. The course will examine how cells of the adaptive immune system discriminate self from non-self, including the nature of antigen receptors, the types of antigens recognized and the signals involved in the generation of effector cells that mediate the response.
Prerequisites: BY 210 [Min Grade: C] and (MIC 275 [Min Grade: C] or BY 440 [Min Grade: C]) and BY 271 [Min Grade: C](Can be taken Concurrently)

MIC 403. Foundations in Immunology: Microbial Pathogen-Immune System Interaction. 3 Hours.

This course will provide an overview of major concepts related to virulence mechanisms utilized by microbial pathogens and their effect on the host immune response. Emphasis will be placed on important virulence factors/mechanisms associated with bacterial, viral and fungal pathogens and how these alter various components of the innate and adaptive immune responses to allow escape of the pathogen and its survival. This course will introduce the concept of emerging infectious diseases and how their spread is related to their ability to escape detection by the immune system.
Prerequisites: MIC 401 [Min Grade: C] and MIC 402 [Min Grade: C]

MIC 404. Foundations in Immunology: Immunologically-Mediated Diseases. 3 Hours.

This course will focus on the role of the immune system, including the molecular and cellular processes, that contribute to morbidity and mortality associated with immunodeficiency (congenital and acquired), asthma/allergy, autoimmunity (systemic and organ-specific), transplantation and inflammatory syndromes associated with heart disease, cancer, chronic neurological disease and diabetes.
Prerequisites: MIC 401 [Min Grade: C] and MIC 402 [Min Grade: C]

MIC 410. Special Topics in Immunology. 1-3 Hour.

This course covers advanced topics related to immunology and host defense.
Prerequisites: MIC 401 [Min Grade: C] and MIC 402 [Min Grade: C]

MIC 450. Current Topics in Immunology. 1 Hour.

The goal of this seminar course is to present advanced concepts in immunology as they relate to important current issues. The importance of the immune system in health and disease will be highlighted.
Prerequisites: MIC 401 [Min Grade: C] and MIC 402 [Min Grade: C]

MIC 451. Seminar in Immunology Research. 1 Hour.

This seminar will feature a 30 minute introduction of a new advanced concept/technology in immunology followed by a 15 minute presentation from an individual faculty member who does research on that advanced concept/technology and a 15 minute discussion.
Prerequisites: MIC 401 [Min Grade: C] and MIC 402 [Min Grade: C]

MIC 492. Undergraduate Research Seminar in Immunology and Host Defense. 3 Hours.

Elective course for non-Immunology Honors students who have completed at least one semester (3 credit hours) of MIC 398. Over the course of the semester, students will conduct research and learn how to develop and complete a paper or thesis on their research work while working closely with a supervising faculty member. In addition, the course will prepare them to present their research findings in a seminar format. Through these activities, students will develop effective skills in both written and oral scientific communication. Students will present a formal seminar on their research at the end of the course. Can be taken as a Capstone course (Immunology majors).

MIC 498. Honors Research in Immunology and Host Defense. 1-3 Hour.

Independent research under the supervision of a faculty mentor for students participating in the Immunology Honors Program. May be repeated for a total of 9 semester hour credits. Students must have completed 12 semester hours of BY or MIC with a GPA of 3.0 and must receive permission of the instructor.

MIC 499. Honors Research Seminar in Immunology and Host Defense. 3 Hours.

All Immunology Honors students are required to take this weekly course. Over the course of the semester, students will conduct research and learn how to develop and complete a paper or thesis on their research work while working closely with a supervising faculty member. In addition, the course will prepare them to present their research findings in a seminar format. Through these activities, students will develop effective skills in both written and oral scientific communication. Students will present a formal seminar on their research at the end of the course. This course can be taken the first semester following the completion of Honors Research in Immunology and Host Defense (MIC 498, minimum of 3 credit hours). Can be taken as a Capstone course (Immunology majors).