Practical Virology


Practical Virology is designed to provide students with background knowledge and context in order to enhance their understanding of some common viruses and the diseases that they cause.

The course will be taught in a conversational, seminar style, in which we will discuss and critically analyze selected readings from textbooks, scientific literature, and news sources. It will be divided into five sessions, each one hour long, moving from general to specific aspects of virus biology.

Course Description

The first session will consist of an overview of the history of the discovery of viruses, and general information about virus evolution, structure, and function. We will answer the following, and related, questions.

  • What are viruses?
  • How are they similar to, yet very different from, living things?
  • How were they discovered?
  • How did people understand them in the days before genetics was understood?

In the next two sessions we will tackle more challenging material about virus structure, function, genetics, immune responses, and treatments, by looking at the following questions.

  • What are viruses made of?
  • What are the different types of viruses?
  • How do they infect cells?
  • What genes are in their genomes?
  • How do they evolve?
  • How do hosts respond to viral infection?
  • How can we treat viral infections?

The final two sessions will bring it all together with detailed investigations of some common viruses. We will delve into the epidemiology, mechanisms of infection, and immune responses to the following viruses and the diseases that they cause.

  • Cold viruses
  • Flu viruses
  • HIV, the virus that causes AIDS
  • SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19.
Teacher's Bio: I have been teaching science to high school and middle school students for about 15 years. My primary focus, and the focus of my own education, is in the realm of biology. I have taught introductory and advanced biology courses, chemistry, physics and environmental science at the high school level, and life science and physical science to middle school students. Prior to becoming a teacher, I earned a PhD with research in the field of immunology, and also worked as a postdoctoral research fellow. My passion in life is to learn how things work and share my knowledge with others. I keep my teaching alive by keeping my eyes and mind open as I go about my business, always looking for connections to share with my students.
Style of Offering : Seminar-style discussion, via Zoom
Max Number of Attendees: 10
Date and Time : Please contact teacher.
Signup Deadline: 24 Hours in Advance