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HMX Pro Immunology

Learn how the immune system is being harnessed to improve cancer treatment.

Advances in our knowledge of the immune system are changing the ways in which we treat various types of cancer.

Understanding how immune cells recognize and kill cancer cells, and what we can do to enhance their ability to fight cancer, is important for anyone working to develop new cancer treatments or apply them in the clinic.

This advanced course offers a unique way for professionals to learn about cutting-edge cancer immunotherapies from leading Harvard Medical School faculty.

Course Topics

Overview of Immuno-oncology

  • What is Cancer?
  • The Promise of Immuno-oncology

Basic Tumor Immunology

  • The Biology of Cancer
  • Immune Recognition
  • Induction of the Immune Response: CD8+ T Cells
  • Induction of the Immune Response: CD4+ T Cells
  • Immune Response of NK Cells
  • Immune Evasion: T Cells
  • Immune Evasion: Other Cells
  • Clinical Linkage: Tumor Immunology

Checkpoint Blockade

  • Mechanisms of Checkpoint Blockade
  • Response of Different Tumor Types
  • Complications of Checkpoint Blockade
  • Clinical Linkage: Checkpoint Blockade Therapy in Melanoma

CAR T and Other Novel Therapies

  • Basics of Chimeric Antigen Receptor (CAR) T Cells
  • Complications of CAR T Cell Therapy
  • Bispecific T Cell Engagers (BiTEs)
  • Tumor Vaccines
  • Oncolytic Viruses
  • Advances in Checkpoint Blockade Therapy
  • Novel CAR Cells
  • Combination Treatments
  • Other Therapies
  • Clinical Linkage: CAR T Cell Therapy


  • The Future of Immuno-oncology
Download the Immuno-oncology course outline

Course Instructors

Andrew Lichtman, Harvard Medical School

Andrew Lichtman, MD, PhD

Professor of Pathology, Harvard Medical School
Senior Pathologist, Brigham and Women’s Hospital

Shiv Pillai, Harvard Medical School

Shiv Pillai, MD, PhD

Professor of Medicine and Health Sciences and Technology, Harvard Medical School
Immunologist and Geneticist, Center for Cancer Research, Massachusetts General Hospital
Director, MMSc in Immunology Program, Harvard Medical School
Associate Program Head, Graduate Program in Immunology, Harvard Medical School

Andrew Pike

Andrew Pike, PhD

Lecturer in Immunology, Harvard Medical School

More Information

Frequently asked questions

Who should take this course?

This course is appropriate for professionals in a variety of industries whose work intersects with cancer research and treatment – including those focused on drug development, product management, and more.

What do participants need to know to succeed in this course?

We recommend knowledge of basic chemistry, biology, and physics, as well as knowledge of the fundamentals of immunology. This is an advanced course; for those who require more background in key immunology concepts, we offer HMX Fundamentals Immunology.

Not sure which course to take? Gauge your knowledge of immunology by taking this short quiz.

What is the time commitment?

Most people can expect to spend around 15–20 hours total, but this depends on your baseline knowledge, how carefully you take notes, and how seriously you take the assessments. Lessons from the courses are released weekly and remain available until the courses end, so you can work at your own pace. There is a final exam at the end of each course that can be taken any time during the final exam period.

Can participants earn certificates from Harvard Medical School?

There are two certification levels, based on participant scores:

  • Certificate of Achievement
  • Certificate of Completion

What Learners Say

Nada Martini

Nada Martini

Bristol Myers Squibb

“You really have the sense of somebody walking you through the subject.”

Image of Eugenia Prohin

Eugenia Prohin

Arensia Exploratory Medicine

“Everybody involved in clinical research would benefit from these courses.”