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Learn Immunology Online

Get an in-depth look at how the body fights disease.

In HMX Fundamentals Immunology, you’ll learn about the processes that enable our immune systems to respond to evolving threats, and understand new, immunology-based disease treatments.

This online certificate course is led by Harvard Medical School faculty and features:

  • detailed animations and illustrations of medical concepts
  • clinical application videos including real doctor-patient interactions
  • ongoing, rigorous assessments to ensure content mastery

Learn more about the course:

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Course Information

Upcoming course periods

September 6 – November 18 | Apply now through August 16
Partial tuition waiver application deadline: Tuesday, August 2 at 12 noon US ET (HMX Fundamentals only)

January 10 – March 24, 2023 | Application opens August 17
April 11 – June 23, 2023 | Application opens December 7


Course length

Each course is 10 weeks long. New lessons are released weekly, and material remains available until the course closes. Expect to spend 3-6 hours per course per week.

Course cost

US$800 for an individual course

Partial tuition waivers are available.

What Learners Say

Allie Hyans

Allie Hyans

Celgene Corporation / Harvard Business School

“I almost didn’t know how applicable it would be until after I became familiar with the concepts discussed in the course, and now they come up all the time…for my own personal understanding, it’s made a world of difference.”

Ana Castillo Orozco

Ana Castillo Orozco

National Institute of Genomic Medicine (Mexico)

“I have taken a lot of courses online, but this was a very different approach…The disease linkage piece was so important because you could enhance your knowledge based on what you saw. It was so amazing how doctors chose patients that covered the whole concepts that you learned in class, and how they chose a particular patient that fit in the clinical scenario.”

Khalil Ragland

Khalil Ragland

Central Connecticut State University

“I was impressed by the way that each topic was broken down into chunks that you could really understand…you could go through it at the pace that was best for you.”

Course Topics


  • Course introduction
  • Meet the faculty
  • Basic terms and concepts

Innate Immunity and Inflammation

  • Sentinel cells and circulating leukocytes
  • Inflammatory events and signaling
  • The formation of pus

Microbial Recognition and Responses in Innate Immunity

  • Pattern recognition receptors
  • Innate immune signaling
  • The antiviral state
  • The complement system

Antibodies – Structure and Function

  • B lymphocytes
  • Antibody structure and function
  • How antibodies can cause disease

Lymphocyte Development and Diversity

  • Lymphocyte development
  • Clonal selection and expansion
  • Differences between B and T lymphocytes
  • The generation of lymphocyte receptor diversity

T Cell Activation by Antigens

  • The role of dendritic cells
  • The lymphatic system and delivery of antigen to lymph nodes
  • Adaptive immune activation in secondary lymphoid tissues
  • Costimulation and inhibitory signaling
  • Antigen presentation

T Cell-Dependent B Cell Responses

  • T Cell activation of B cells
  • The germinal center reaction
  • Isotype switching and affinity maturation

Helper T Cells

  • Helper T cell functions
  • Helper T cell subsets
  • The role of helper T cells in disease

Cytotoxic T Cells

  • Cytotoxic T cell functions
  • Selection and expansion of cytotoxic T cells
  • Contraction and memory
  • Therapies that target cytotoxic T cell functions

Failures of the Immune System

  • Immunodeficiencies
  • Mechanisms of tolerance and loss of self-tolerance
  • Autoimmune diseases
  • Allergic diseases

Immunology-Based Therapy of Diseases

  • Transplantation and transfusion
  • Vectored immunoprophylaxis and chimeric antigen receptor T cells
  • Neoantigen discovery and checkpoint blockade

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