Clinical Infection Biology and Antimicrobial Therapy

15 credits

Syllabus, Master's level, 3MK008

A revised version of the syllabus is available.
Education cycle
Second cycle
Main field(s) of study and in-depth level
Infection Biology A1F, Medical Science A1F
Grading system
Fail (U), Pass (G), Pass with distinction (VG)
Finalised by
The Educational Board of Medicine, 8 January 2013
Responsible department
Department of Medical Biochemistry and Microbiology

Entry requirements

University education equivalent to at least 180 credits (i.e. three years of full-time studies), in biology, (bio-)medicine, biotechnology, pharmacy, pharmaceutical bioscience, (pharmaceutical)chemistry, medical science, agriculture, animal science, veterinary medicine or education giving knowledge in cell biology, genetics (bio)chemistry and molecular biology. English proficiency, normally attested by means of an internationally recognised test such as TOEFL or IELTS.

Learning outcomes

Clinical infection biology

After completion of the clinical infection biology module of the course the students should be able to describe and have gained in depth knowledge about

  • the most common human infectious diseases occurring throughout the globe
  • the clinical picture of infections in different organs and how this can be explained in molecular mechanisms
  • the human response to different kinds of pathogens, including the typical picture and molecular involvement during bacterial, viral, fungal, and parasitic diseases.
  • the molecular mechanisms of inflammatory reaction and how the different components contribute to the symptoms and clinical pictures of infection.

From this theoretical knowledge the student should be able to suggest how to

  • diagnose infectious diseases
  • identify possible routes for transmission
  • experimentally isolate and detect pathogens
  • recommend initial antimicrobial treatment with respect to local antimicrobial resistance patterns

and in addition have obtained sufficient knowledge to be able to

  • critically analyse, orally and in writing, methods and interpret results concerning diagnosis of infections and secondary pathological conditions.

Antimicrobial drugs and resistance

After having completed the antimicrobial drugs and resistance module of the course, the students are expected to be able to explain the basic mechanisms of action of antimicrobial drugs and by which mechanisms resistance can develop. In addition, the students should know about basic concepts in pharmacokinetics and dynamics. Specifically, the students should be able to analyse and discuss:

  • Which classes of antimicrobial drugs are available for treatment and discuss the basic characteristics of these drugs
  • The molecular mechanisms by which antimicrobial drugs directed against different types of targets confer their inhibitory effect
  • Methods and terminology used to define microbes as susceptible or resistant
  • Basic terms and concepts in pharmacokinetics (PK) and -dynamics (PD) and the importance of PK-PD parameters in antimicrobial treatment
  • The biochemistry and genetics of the different mechanisms that are involved in conferring resistance to antimicrobial drugs
  • How antimicrobial drug resistance mechanisms can be genetically transferred

Drug development

After having completed the drug development module of the course, the students are expected to be able to explain the basic therapeutic strategies against infectious diseases as well as how the preclinical drug discovery process is employed for developing new anti-infective medicines. Specifically, the students should be able to:

  • Analyse and discuss how drugs can interfere with various disease processes relevant for infectious diseases (system level)
  • Analyse and discuss the biochemistry of how drugs directed against protein targets work (target level)
  • Principally design a molecule that interferes with the normal function of a protein involved in the symptoms caused by an infectious agent
  • Suggest and design experiments used to identify and characterise molecules that interfere with the normal functions of proteins
  • Produce a short document describing the mechanisms of an antimicrobial drug, suitable for information purposes


The aim of this course is to give an overview on human infectious diseases, based on previously obtained knowledge in molecular mechanisms of microbial infections, as well as a profound knowledge about the inflammatory reactions seen within the body during infectious diseases. The most common bacterial, viral, fungal and parasitic infections will be addressed during this overview course. Examples of infectious diseases occurring in all different organ systems, including respiratory, gastrointestinal, urinary tract, central nervous system, skin, soft tissue and skeletal, as well as cardiovascular infections will be discussed. Different inflammatory cascade systems will be addressed in detail to give a profound knowledge about the symptoms associated with different host responses in bacterial, parasitic and viral diseases and the association with virulence factors. The course also aims to give in depth knowledge in pharmacological aspects of antimicrobial drugs. The biochemistry of methods to treat infectious diseases and strategies to develop new therapies will be discussed. Relevant model systems will be used to demonstrate the molecular mechanisms of drugs and the development of resistance. Individual theoretical projects will give knowledge of how common antimicrobial drugs work. Relevant background knowledge in biochemistry is essential.

The course consists of three partly integrated modules, that will cover various aspects of clinical infection biology (6 credits), antimicrobial drugs and drug resistance (4 credits) and drug development (5 credits)

Clinical Infection Biology - Specific content

  • Inflammatory cascade systems in infection, the coagulation system in sepsis
  • Anti inflammatory systems and principles for anti inflammatory treatment
  • Infections in all organ systems, such as skin-soft tissue and skeletal system, respiratory tract, gastro intestinal and urinary tract, the heart, nervous system, sepsis and septic shock. These will be discussed including common symptoms, clinical picture, diagnostic techniques and principles of antimicrobial treatment
  • Infections from a global perspective
  • Antimicrobial therapy in above mentioned infections from mechanisms of action, resistance development, local variation in antimicrobial resistance as well as global differences
  • Individual in depth projects on infection pathogenesis and treatment with oral and written reports

Antimicrobial drugs and resistance - Specific contents

  • Different drug classes for treatment of bacterial, viral, fungal and protozoan infections
  • Definition of drug targets-what is good drug target, mechanisms of inhibition of different drug classes, how and why do bacteria die when treated with antimicrobial drugs
  • Susceptibility, resistance, MIC, SIR system, classification systems of resistance
  • PK concepts (Cmax, area under curve, time over MIC etc.), PD concepts (e.g. time-kill, MPC)
  • Resistance mechanisms: efflux, permeability, drug inactivation and modification, target alterations, bypass pathways
  • Genetic vehicles for transfer of resistance: e.g. plasmids, transposons, integrons, phage, transformation
  • Epidemiology and spread of antimicrobial drug resistance in local and global settings

Drug development - Specific contents

  • Examples and concepts: Drug development projects defined by a) protein class, e.g. protease, or by b) disease areas, e.g. anti-AIDS drugs.
  • Pharmaceutical substances: Nature as source for drugs. Rational drug design. Fragment based drug discovery.
  • Drug targets: Receptors, ion channels, enzymes, nucleic acids.
  • Biochemical methods for drug development: Target identification and categorisation. Lead identification and categorisation.
  • Lead optimisation: Selectivity, resistance, ADME. Pro-drugs and pharmaceutical formulations.
  • From the pharmaceutical industry to the clinic: pharmacokinetics, clinical studies. Generics.
  • Bioinformatics: The use of Internet resources for drug development projects.
  • Individual project: Describe the mechanisms of action of a clinically used anti-infectious drug. Present results in the form of an information brochure for professionals in the area of infectious diseases.


The course is given in English in form of lectures, seminars, and theoretical exercises and projects.

Exercises, seminars and projects are compulsory and are assessed individually.


Exercises and projects are examined throughout the course orally and in writing. Three written examinations are given. To pass the requirements of the curriculum, all compulsory tasks must be approved.