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6-week course

All Pods / Cancer

Treating Cancer: Learn the basics of cancer immunotherapy and explore where the field is headed

This Pod will meet once per week for 6 weeks, starting on June 12, 2024 at 6:00pm EDT/3:00pm PDT, with the last session being Wednesday July 17, 2024.

By enrolling you confirm this time works for you.

Date and time

Wednesday, 6:00pm EDT/3:00pm PDT

Group size

3-6 students


A published article in a pre-print research archive



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PhD candidate in Immunology

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Treating Cancer: Learn the basics of cancer immunotherapy and explore where the field is headed

THIS POD WILL TAKE A BREAK IN SESSIONS FOR THE WEEK OF JULY 3RD; THE LAST SESSION FOR THIS POD WILL BE ON JULY 24TH. Cancer is one of the leading causes of death globally, and detection and treatment remains a huge area of research focus in the 21st Century. In this pod, students interested in medicine, biology, and genetics will gain a broad understanding of basic cancer biology, basic immunology principles, and classic types of cancer immunotherapy. Each student will then explore and write about immunotherapy use in a specific type of cancer of their choosing, incorporating at least one primary research paper into their review. In addition to learning about Immunotherapy, students will learn the fundamentals of reading and writing research papers.



PhD candidate in Immunology

Hello! My name is Ashley, and I am an Immunology PhD student at the University of Michigan studying the use of cancer immunotherapies in different contexts. My work is at the intersection of immunology, cancer biology, bioengineering, and computational biology. My background is in biological engineering, and I'm passionate about translational research that seeks to improve patient outcomes. I am well-versed in scientific communication, and look forward to working with students interested in life sciences, medicine, and engineering. Outside of the lab, I am a life-long athlete. I love spending time outdoors and exploring new cities!

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Treating Cancer: Learn the basics of cancer immunotherapy and explore where the field is headed

Week by week curriculum

Week 1

What is cancer? We will discuss the basic definition of cancer. We will broadly review the Hallmarks of Cancer. We will cover the waves of treatment options. Lastly, we will cover myths and truths about cancer.

Week 2

What is the immune system? Part 1. We will discuss the immune system, first by discussing the different challenges our bodies must be able to defend against. We will then go into a brief overview of major immune cell types, focusing on those most commonly dysregulated in cancer. We will cover a brief introduction to signal transduction.

Week 3

What is the immune system? Part 2. We will discuss the immune system in depth by examining how our immune system typically responds. We will focus on T cell activation. We will then discuss how cancer is able to exploit and turn off this immune response. Students will learn, in particular, about MHC, immune checkpoints, and tumor specific antigens.

Week 4

What is immunotherapy? We will broadly discuss classes of immunotherapies, including antibodies, immune checkpoint inhibitors, and adoptive cell therapies. We will focus on the design of these and how they should overcome the immune evasion discussed in week 3.

Week 5

How does a drug idea get to market? We will discuss the overall stages of drug development, and will focus on the different stages of clinical trials. Students will learn how to navigate the clinical trials database and gain an understanding of clinical trial terminology.

Week 6

When can we use immunotherapy, and when can’t we? We will focus on understanding when immunotherapy is typically prescribed. We will discuss current limitations, as well as discuss how some patient groups benefit, while other patient groups do not benefit from immunotherapy. We will discuss the role of biomarkers in predicting efficacy.