SCIE 680
The Molecular Biology of Emerging Infectious Diseases

Michael McAlear

Course Schedule
January 23 Introduction, Basic Molecular & Cellular Biology
Germ theory, Koch's postulates
January 30 Bacteria and Antibiotics
February 6 Antibiotic Resistance
February 13 Anthrax
February 20 Viruses, Ebola
Reading: "The Hot Zone"
February 27 West Nile virus
March 6 Class Test I
March 13 Spring Break: No Class
March 20 Spring Break: No Class
March 27 The Flu Virus
The Polymerase Chain Reaction: Part I
April 3 Parasites, Malaria
PCR: Part II
April 10 Prions, Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease
April 17 Mad Cow Disease
April 24 Class Test II
Course Description

Whereas only a few decades ago it seemed that modern medicine was well on its way to dealing with many of the bacterial and vial diseases that afflicted mankind, recently we have seen the emergence, and re-emergence of a host of deadly, infectious pathogens.  This course will focus on a subset of these diseases, including antibiotic-resistant bacteria, mad cow disease, West Nile virus, anthrax and Ebola.  The majority of the course will deal with how these infectious agents work at the molecular level, and how they can be treated (if at all).  We will also consider how changes in populations, social practices, and environments have contributed to their emergence.  Students will be expected to research one of these topics in depth, and to give an in-class presentation as well as submit a paper.  Students will also get the opportunity to learn and perform a modern diagnostic technique (PCR) that is used to identify infectious agents.  A background in basic molecular biology (equivalent to introductory college level biology) will be assumed knowledge.  Readings will include review articles, primary scientific literature and books on the different diseases.

Class Test I   25%
Class Test II   25%
Presentation   25%
Paper   25%
The Coming Plague, L. Garrett
Epidemic!, R. DeSalle
The Hot Zone, R. Preston