Skip to content Skip to main navigation

HMX Pro Immunology
Vaccines and Viral Immunology

Learn how the immune system is being harnessed to create vaccines that protect against infections by disease-causing viruses.

Viral infections are responsible for many human diseases, from common diseases like the flu to emerging infections such as Zika virus and SARS-CoV-2.

Understanding how the immune system works to prevent and remove viral infections is essential for anyone working to develop or distribute vaccines that can protect against these diseases.

This advanced course offers a unique way for professionals to learn from leading Harvard Medical School faculty about cutting-edge developments in the creation of vaccines to protect against viral infections.

Course Topics

Overview of the Immune Response to Viral Infections

  • The Immune Response to Viral Infections
  • The Potential for Preventing Viral Diseases

Principles of Viral Immunology

  • Introduction to Viruses
  • Viral Pathogenesis
  • Methods of Immune Evasion
  • T Cell Exhaustion
  • Passive Immunotherapy
  • Adjuvants and Immune Activation
  • Viral Invasion
  • Viral Replication
  • Immune Responses to Viruses

Pathogenesis and Evasion Mechanisms of Specific Viruses

  • Flu and Flu Pandemics
  • HIV
  • Zika and Dengue
  • Ebola and Marburg
  • Hepatitis Viruses
  • COVID-19 and Coronaviruses
  • Clinical Linkage: Hepatitis C Virus


  • Types of Vaccines
  • RNA Vaccines
  • Hybrid Vaccines
  • Durability of Immune Responses
  • Vaccine Safety
  • Vaccine Hesitancy
  • The Creation of Vaccines


  • The Future of Treating and Preventing Viral Diseases

Download the 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 vaccine research and development.

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