Document Type



This is a case study.


Immunology; adaptive; host-pathogen interaction; viruses; pathogens; cellular biology; parasites; innate; evolution; bacteria; immune system

Identifier Data


National Center for Case Study Teaching in Science

Publication Source

National Center for Case Study Teaching in Science


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.