Science at the heart of medicine

7015 Viruses

COURSE DESCRIPTION: The study of animal and plant viruses helped lay the foundation of modern molecular biology, and continues to yield key insights into the biology of cells and organisms. Moreover, we live in an increasingly interconnected and crowded world in which ‘new’ viruses can emerge and spread throughout the globe seemingly overnight, and are being discovered at an ever-accelerating pace through cutting-edge genome sequence-based technologies. At the same time, “old” viruses such as HIV-1 remain a global threat and viruses we thought we had defeated, such as measles, are resurgent. Therefore, a sophisticated and broad-based understanding of animal viruses is needed more than ever. In this course, we will study how viruses are put together, how they multiply in their hosts and cause disease, how we find new viruses and characterize them, and how we exploit them as tools for basic research and therapy.

‘Viruses’ will be kicked off this year by Dr. Vincent Racaniello, a noted virologist and teacher of virology at Columbia University. Dr. Racaniello will also host a ‘This Week in Virology’ (TWiV) podcast at Einstein, in which course students will have an opportunity to play a prominent role. Additional didactic lectures will feature Einstein faculty and invited outside speakers who are international experts in different areas of the study of viruses.

The course will also include team-based learning exercises, in which students discuss research papers or other course content in a structured, faculty-monitored setting.

Topics to be covered include virus structure, mechanisms of virus entry and replication, regulation of viral and host gene expression, virus assembly, virus egress, host responses to viral infections, and viral pathogenesis and evolution. ‘Viruses’ will demonstrate how these basic principles offer opportunities for diagnosis, prevention, and treatment of prevalent and emerging viral diseases, and for the development of new applications that utilize viruses as tools.

RECOMMENDED MATERIALS: Principles of Virology 3rd Edition. by S.J. Flint, L.W. Enquist, V.R. Racaniello and A.M. Skalka (2009) ASM Press. ISBN number 978-1-55581-443-4

PREREQUISITES: There are no special requirements – but the students with mostly physical or chemical sciences or engineering training with little knowledge of biology will be unsuitable.

STUDENT PREPARATION: Knowledge of contemporary biology including molecular biology, cell biology and some biochemistry would be necessary.


UNIQUE TRAINING OFFERED IN THIS COURSE: This is the only course at Einstein that is dedicated to the study of animal viruses, their replication and pathogenesis. Minor overlap with Microbes

STUDENT ASSESSMENTS: There will be 2 TBLs, a scientific research paper-writing exam and a final exam