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.
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.