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Cursus: BMW33617
Molecular Basis of Bacterial Infections
Cursus informatie
Studiepunten (EC)7,5

Study points: 7,5                                                                                          Course code: BMW33617
Coordinators: Dr. B.W. Bardoel                                                                  Period: 2
Examinator: Dr. D.A.C. Heesterbeek                                                          Timeslot: BC
E-mail address:                                                       Level: 3 +31612097620                         

Course contents:
Within this course the bacterium has a central role. The students will gain thorough knowledge on the molecular build-up of several different types of bacteria and the ways this make-up enables these bacteria to cause infections. Plenary lectures will be given by experts active in diverse fields of microbiological research. Furthermore, the focus will be on giving an overview on experimental techniques in molecular microbiology. 
A large part (~50%) of this course consists of practical work in which the students will perform their own research in a fundamental research setting. Students will be divided into small groups (2-3 students) and will work on different topics. Part of the students will select a set of potential immune evasive bacterial genes and subsequently produce the corresponding proteins (subgroup 1). The other students will integrate fluorescent markers into bacteria that contain or lack the selected genes of interest (subgroup 2). By employing molecular techniques (e.g. flow cytometry and fluorescence microscopy) the corresponding functions will be investigated. Students will furthermore be trained in data analysis, interpretation of obtained results, and critical discussion thereof. Both subgroups will present their work to each other. Besides practical work, students will also have the opportunity to discuss their experiments with several people with different positions (e.g. professor, associate professor, post-doc, PhD student, Master’s student) within the research environment.
This is a challenging course integrating knowledge and practical techniques, thereby forming a bridge between the Bachelor’s programme and research Master’s programme.

Amount of participants:
Due to the high amount of practical work within the course, the maximum number of participants is 20.

Required foreknowledge:
General knowledge on molecular cell biology is required (“Cellen” and “Weefsels”). Participation in “Infectie & Immuniteit” or a similar course is advised, however not mandatory. Students from outside the Biomedical Sciences programme should contact the course coordinators to determine if their foreknowledge is sufficient for participation. 

Learning outcomes:
Knowledge and insight
After completion of this course the student can:
  • describe the molecular and structural features of bacteria (including cell wall, genome, secretion systems);
  • explain the diversity within bacterial species based on the above characteristics;
  • describe the process of a bacterial infection, from entry, colonization/infection to pathogenesis;
  • elaborate on bacterial virulence and survival strategies of bacteria;
  • explain the molecular principles of immune evasion strategies employed by bacteria;
  • explain the molecular action of bacterial toxins;
  • explain the acquisition and molecular basis of antibiotic resistance and describe alternative treatment options (such as antibody therapies);
  • be familiar with, know when to use, and how to interpret the most important modern techniques within the field of microbiology (CRISPR-Cas, Flow Cytometry, Imaging, Next Generation Sequencing, Protein Structure and Proteomics).

After completion of this course the student is able to:
  • formulate a research question and translate this into experiments, choosing the right technique;
  • perform basic laboratory and microbiological techniques within a research setting;
  • perform cloning and expression of foreign proteins in bacteria;
  • submit a report of experimental data in the form of a laboratory journal;
  • formulate a concise scientific abstract summarizing the main experimental procedures and findings;
  • give an oral presentation in English on performed experiments and collected data;
  • give a critical analysis (journal club) on literature within the field of molecular microbiology.

After completion of this course the student has:
  • the ability to work well in a team;
  • developed a critical attitude towards obtained results and scientific literature, but also towards themselves and other students.

Learning activities and contact hours:
Teaching consists of plenary lectures, work groups, and literature assignments (approximately 1/3 of the course), practical work (approximately 2/3 of the course), student presentations, speed dates with researchers, meet the expert, and a written examination. Due to the high amount of practical work the average contact hours are approximately 12 hours per week. The remaining time is reserved for self-study.

Since this course is open for international students and international teachers are involved, the course will be given in English.

  • Written exam (50%);
  • Practical assessment (50%); divided between presentations (20%), a written report in the form of a laboratory journal and abstract (20%), and participation (10%);
  • The minimum grades for both the exam and the practical assessment required to pass the course is 5.5.

Necessary material (books/costs):
  • An online course manual is available on the Lifelong Learning Platform;
  • Prescott’s Microbiology, Willey et al., Tenth Edition, 2017 McGrawHill (recommended);
  • Research articles and other material will be published on the Lifelong Learning Platform.
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