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Microbiology Logo Microbiology & Immunology
Te Tari Moromoroiti me te Ārai Mate

MICR 223: Infection and Immunity

Second Semester - 18 points

Course prescription

The epidemiology and pathogenesis of infectious diseases, the response of the immune system to microbial antigens, and how the response is measured.

Course overview

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  • Microbes and the immune response exist in a delicate balance. The immune response is essential for fighting infection by microbial pathogens; however, these pathogens evolve rapidly to develop immune evasion mechanisms.  This paper includes specific discussion on current global disease threats such as HIV, influenza, MRSA, tuberculosis and E. coli 0157:H7.
  • This course in Infection and Immunity aims to integrate microbiology and immunology to:




  •  Explain the mechanisms microbes have evolved to infect cells, individuals and communities.
  •  Provide a broad understanding of fundamental immunology, including innate and adaptive immune systems at a cellular and molecular level
  •  Provide basic practical experience with the instrumentation and methodology important in a modern diagnostic laboratory and how these skills can be applied to human health and disease.


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  • This paper is ideal if you are interested in Immunology or Medical Microbiology, and want to understand the interplay between infection and protection.

Lecture course overview

The MICR 223 lecture course will introduce you to the following topics:

Module 1: Sources of Infection and Preventing Transmission

1. Zoonoses
2. Environmental pathogens
3. Transmission and prevention
4. Hospital and community-acquired infections

Module 2: Epidemiology of Infectious Diseases and Principles of Antimicrobial Therapy

5. Introduction to epidemiology
6. Epidemiological tools: subtyping methods
7. Studying historical pandemics: what have we learned?
8. Acute, chronic, latent and silent infections
9. Principles of antimicrobial therapy
10. Are we moving towards the post-antibiotic era?

Module 3: Microbial Virulence Mechanisms

11. Microbial adhesion
12. Microbial invasion
13. Microbial intracellular survival
14. Bacterial toxins
15. Medical importance of biofilms

Module 4: The Immune Response

16. Introduction to immunity
17. Pathogen recognition
18. Cytokines and the inflammasome
19. MHC structure and function
20. Lymphocyte recognition of antigen

Module 5: Adaptive Immunity

21. Generation of diversity
22. B cell effector functions
23. T cell effector functions

Module 6:  Immunology in Health and Disease 

24. B cell subsets and functions
25. B and T cell memory
26. Vaccines I (introduction)
27. Vaccines II (HIV, malaria, TB)
28. Autoimmunity and tolerance
29. Immunodiagnostics
30. Immunology Revision

Module 7: Immune Response to Infection

31. Case Study I: Immune response to viral infection
32. Case Study II: Immune response to bacterial infection

Lab course overview

The MICR 223 labs aim to introduce you to concepts covered in the lecture course at a practical level. The 6 labs in MICR 223 cover:

  • Lab 1: Neonatal meningitis
  • Lab 2: Genetic analysis to investigate outbreaks
  • Lab 3: Influenza
  • Lab 4: Eukaryotic pathogens and immune deficiency
  • Lab 5: Comparison of virulence factors in staphylococci
  • Lab 6: Tuberculosis diagnosis

Attendance at all 6 laboratory sessions is compulsory

Techniques and skills you will learn in the lab course:

  • Culture of bacteria
  • Haemadsorption
  • Immunochromatography
  • Yeast identification
  • Phagocyte function
  • Biofilms
  • Coagulation and agglutination
  • Antibody binding
  • Specific bacterial staining
  • Lymphocyte proliferation
  • DNA fingerprinting


  1. Lecture and lab test 1 (15%) 
  2. Lecture and lab test 2 (15%)
  3. A 3-hr final exam (70%)

Course prerequisites


HUBS 191 & 90 further points

Recommended preparation:

MICR 221


Lectures 11:00am

Wednesday (from semester week 7 onwards only)

Semester weeks 2, 3, 4 and 8, 9, 10


Recommended texts:

Prescott's Microbiology by Willey, Sherwood and Woolverton, 10th edition, 2017, McGraw-Hill Publishers OR Prescott's Microbiology by Willey, Sandman and Wood, 11th edition, 2020, McGraw-Hill Publisherss

Kuby Immunology by Owen, Punt and Stranford, 7th edition, 2013, Macmillan Publishers OR Janeway's Immunobiology, 8th edition (Immunobiology: The Immune System)

These are available at the Medical and Science libraries

Teaching staff

For more information

View the details of this paper on the University of Otago website

Students are encouraged to contact staff by email to make arrangements for a time to discuss course-related matters.

For more information on this course, please contact Associate Professor Joanna Kirman.