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Stephanie Mott
Department of Science and Technology
Bryant University
Host-Pathogen Interactions: A Magnificent Battle in an Evolutionary Arms Race

This case study introduces students to the complex field of immunology and the wide variety of host-pathogen interactions that drive evolutionary change.  The case begins with a basic overview of the phases of the immune response and how each contributes to host defense against an invading pathogen.  In order to delve deeper into each phase, students explore the metaphor of a battle in which a host and pathogen are locked in combat in order to understand the individual components of the immune response.  Once students successfully understand how the immune system works in general, they are then asked to think creatively about how a pathogen that wants to survive could evolve to evade the immune response, and to find concrete examples in the literature.  The overall goal is for students to gain a deeper understanding of the immune response and how host-pathogen interactions drive coevolution of both host immune components and the pathogen itself. The case was originally designed for an introductory biology course, but can easily be adapted for use in a variety of different courses and levels.