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Attacks and Defenses

Course Directors

Course Description


Attacks and Defenses introduces principles of immunity, tissue injury and repair and medical microbiology. These principles are integrated with the clinical fields of clinical immunology and allergy, infectious diseases, dermatology and rheumatology. Students are introduced to the prevention, diagnosis, and management of infectious, allergic, autoimmune and immune deficiency related diseases. Selected examples of immune based neoplastic therapy especially with respect to melanoma. Medical microbiology and infectious disease are taught during the entire course. Principles of immunobiology are taught concurrently with clinical immunology, followed by rheumatology and then dermatology. Understanding disease in underserved and diverse populations is a critical component of the course.


All topics are taught with a mix of lectures, workshops, laboratories, team-based learning, and patient encounter sessions.



  • Optional weekly quizzes
  • Two mandatory, mid-course self-assessments


  • End-of-course, pass/fail qualifier

Learning Objectives

  • Describe the major classes of microbes affecting humans (bacteria, viruses, fungi, parasites), ways in which infectious diseases are acquired and spread, and the mechanisms pathogens deploy to subvert and circumvent host defenses.
  • Describe the epidemiology and public health approach to outbreaks and emerging infections.
  • Describe the key cellular and molecular components of the immune system including a distinction between innate and acquired immunity and how those arise during development.
  • Explain how the body distinguishes self from non-self during physiologic responses.
  • Recognize common histologic patterns of inflammation and tissue repair and their clinical significance.
  • Correlate clinical failures of immunity (both excess and deficiency) with disorders of particular components of the immune system.
  • Describe common interventions used to prevent and treat immunologically relevant diseases.
  • Describe the structure and physiology of the skin and its function in homeostasis and defense.
  • Describe the structure and physiology of the musculoskeletal system with special emphasis on joints and its mechanics and dynamics.
  • Formulate basic differential diagnoses, approach to definitive diagnosis, and approach to empiric and targeted therapies and preventative measures for common infectious, dermatologic, and musculoskeletal complaints.
  • Describe the function, indications, toxicities, and important interactions of immunomodulatory and anti-infective drugs including vaccines.
  • Describe the basic concepts of diagnostic imaging techniques including conventional X-rays, ultrasonography, CT, MRI, PET, and nuclear imaging, and their applications to musculoskeletal disease.