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Understanding immune checkpoint blockade therapy: a pillar of modern cancer treatment

Illustration of a cancer cell being targeted, representing the concept of cancer immunotherapy

*This course is now closed for bookings*

Checkpoint blockade immunotherapy has marked a turning point in the fight against cancer. It has not only transformed scientific thinking of how our bodies can respond to cancer but has also shown us that it can be possible to tackle cancers we previously viewed as untreatable. 

Regarded as a breakthrough area in the treatment of cancer, immunotherapies can be seen as a way to ‘turn our immune response up to 11’. Particularly, immune checkpoint blockade has taken cancer immunotherapy from a pipedream to a pipeline of new therapeutics. 

This type of therapy works by activating a person’s immune system – but how? When does and doesn’t it work? What are the potential side effects and how can it be optimised?

In this course you can discover how checkpoint blockade has unlocked the potential of the immune system in the treatment of cancer. Its success has stimulated massive academic and industry interest in cancer immunotherapy, leading to accelerated development of a plethora of novel approaches, which in turn is resulting in better health outcomes and radical sector growth. 


Gain a solid understanding of immune checkpoint blockade therapies

This online training course has been developed by a team of academics and clinicians who will guide you through this intricate subject and provide an up-to-date view into immune checkpoint blockade therapy.

High-quality content curated by experts in the topic, featuring interviews with clinicians and patients, will take you from the basic science principles to the impact in the clinic and for patients. 

By enrolling on this course, you will transform your understanding of modern cancer treatment and open the door to:

  • Productive conversations – with a stronger grasp of the current state of cancer immunotherapy, you’ll be able to confidently engage with patients, colleagues or clients.
  • Informed decision-making – detailed knowledge of how these therapies work will empower you to determine the best option, whether that’s around cancer treatment choices or your next career challenge.
  • Enhanced interactions – your new awareness of key cancer immunology concepts will ensure you can make the most of potential collaborations and funding opportunities. 
  • Broadened horizons – bring your knowledge up to date with the latest in cancer immunotherapy and equip yourself for the future.

Be at the forefront of cancer treatment advancements and contribute to this rapidly evolving field with this course!

What will I learn?

With a focus on melanoma, lung and colorectal cancers, you will hear directly from clinicians about the impact of immune checkpoint blockade therapy, as well as from patients on their personal experience of this treatment.

The course will cover a range of areas, including:

  • The impact for these therapies in the clinic across different cancer types.
  • The science underpinning therapeutic responses.
  • The challenges in implementation from both a clinical and scientific perspective (e.g., biomarkers, immune-related toxicity, and lack of responses for some cancers and patient groups).
  • Future developments to optimise current approaches.

Through self-paced e-learning and various interactive elements, such as online discussions with leading immunologists and medical oncologists, you will get a chance to actively participate in real time and gain specialist knowledge in the area, and be a part of the future of cancer treatment.


What should I look forward to?

  • A critical focus on a vital aspect of cancer treatment based on academic, healthcare and patient perspectives.
  • A chance to explore fascinating cutting-edge science that has transformed our understanding of cancer treatment and countless lives. 
  • A unique insight into lived experiences of patients and a profound understanding of its impact.
  • A forward-looking view of the diverse and fast-paced developments in immune checkpoint blockade therapy.
  • A live Q&A session on Monday 26 February 2024, 18:00–19:00 GMT, with Professor Gary Middleton, Professor of Medical Oncology, and Professor Ben Willcox, Professor of Molecular Immunology, from the University of Birmingham.
  • A certificate of attendance for taking the course or a certificate of participation once the quiz is complete


Is it for me?

This course has been expertly informed by scientists, clinicians and patients to provide a basic understanding of immune checkpoint blockade therapies to a range of audiences.

It is designed to benefit healthcare professionals, individuals working in industry, oncologists and cancer specialists, non-cancer specialists such as geneticists and basic immunologists, as well as patient groups and students (MSc, medical and undergraduates) with a background in science.

You will need a basic understanding of what cells and proteins are, as well as what DNA is and its role in the cell. 


Instructors involved in the course

  • Professor Ben Willcox – Director of the Institute of Immunology and Immunotherapy and Professor of Molecular Immunology, University of Birmingham
  • Dr Fiyaz Mohammed – Lecturer in Biomedical Structural Biology, University of Birmingham

Course overview

Self-paced e-learning with interactive elements, including online discussions and a live Q&A session with experts on Monday 26 February 2024

Embark on your educational journey at your own convenience, with flexibility to complete the course any time between 24 January and 17 March 2024 (allowing you up to 8 weeks)

With an estimated course duration of only 13 hours, you'll immerse yourself in a comprehensive learning programme while evaluating your progress through a series of formative quizzes

This course costs £250. The last booking date was Friday 2 February 2024. 

This course has been developed and is delivered by the University of Birmingham.

For any queries related to course registration, issues with the e-learning platform or other administrative matters, please contact the University of Birmingham team at

If you have any questions or would like to talk to us about whether this course might be suitable for you, the BSI training team will be more than happy to help at