Molecular Virology

Course Number: 
Graduate Education
4 Credit hours (alternate years)
Course Description: 
Virology occupies a unique position in modern biology. Many of the most common, and the most deadly, human pathogens are viruses. The advent of the AIDS epidemic, recent outbreaks of emerging viral diseases, such as Ebola, influenza, and West Nile virus, and the threat of bioterrorism, have led to an increasingly important role for the study of viruses in biomedical research. In addition to their roles in causing human diseases, viruses have also served as important model systems for understanding cellular processes at the molecular level. As viruses are dependent on host cells for almost all aspects of their life cycles, the mechanisms and principles governing viral and cellular replication and gene expression are nearly identical. The small genome sizes of viruses in particular render them highly amenable to experimental manipulations. Thus, many of the most fundamental discoveries about cellular processes such as mRNA splicing, mRNA transcription, DNA replication, oncogenic transformation, cell cycle control, and tumor suppression, to name just a few, have been elucidated in viral systems first. Viruses themselves are now being used as vehicles for the intracellular transfer of genes (gene therapy) and as important tools for vaccine development. The purpose of this course is to cover recent advances in virology and to develop within the students skills in (1) presentation of research results, and (2) critical thinking and evaluation of data from current literature.