The recent outbreaks of Zika and Ebola viruses and an increase in the rates of certain viral infections reflect the profound impact viruses have on human health worldwide. Students in the course study past viral pandemics—influenza, smallpox, and polio—and how they have altered human history. They survey how viruses replicate in human hosts and spread in human populations. Students also learn how recent developments in molecular biology and genetics have been instrumental to the biopharmaceutical industry in developing antiviral drugs and viral vaccines. Consider how viruses cause disease (pathogenesis), the relationship between viruses and cancer, host defense mechanisms, and the influence of climate change on emerging viral diseases. Join in the discussion of the role of viruses in transferring genes to individuals undergoing gene therapy, and the promise of new gene therapy technologies using CRISPR-Cas 9 and a chimeric antigen receptor CAR-T cell therapy, which the U.S. Food and Drug Administration commissioner recently described as "another milestone in the development of a whole new scientific paradigm for the treatment of serious diseases."
Based on practical case studies, you'll explore the interplay of viruses with their cellular hosts. Building on this foundation, you'll examine the salient issues associated with viral vaccines, using viruses as the vectors for gene therapy, and therapeutic viruses. Discussions cover antiviral drug development and the problem of drug resistance as well as effectively using antiviral drugs to treat viral disease You'll learn about virus evolution, emerging viruses, the risks and benefits of viral vaccines, the polio eradication campaign, the epidemiology of influenza virus, the progress toward developing an HIV-1 vaccine, and the challenges associated with gene therapy.
Course evaluation consists of a take-home exam and an independent writing assignment on a virus of the student's choice. Some knowledge of molecular biology is desirable, although a desire to appreciate the significance of viruses in real-world settings is sufficient. This course will benefit individuals preparing for career advancement in both clinical and industry roles.
Professional Credit: CA BRN/LVN Credit--Provider #CEP13114.