Interdisciplinary Explorations in Virology

Syllabus, Spring 2014

Course Description 

In this course, we will use a case-study approach to investigate the biology of human pathogenic viruses, focusing in particular on factors that impact the outbreak and spread of human viral diseases. CC- Interdisciplinary

Student Learning Goals

As a result of taking this course, students will be able to:

1) Describe the basic structures and replication strategies of the major classes of human viral pathogens;

2) Explore and analyze the political, social, economic and biological factors that impact the outbreak and spread of viral diseases;

3) Demonstrate familiarity with the specialized vocabularies and fundamental concepts of the various disciplines involved in the epidimiological analysis of viral disease outbreaks;

4) Show an appreciation of how different academic disciplines can supplement and reinforce one another in the study of viral disease outbreaks and their causes;

5) Articulate an understanding of the complexities and ambiguities inherent in explaining epidemiological issues from with in the frameworks of a variety of disciplines, including biology, sociology, political science and economics.

6) Deliberately use the disciplines under study for advanced analysis of viral disease outbreaks in a way that is not normally available to each discipline alone.

Important Course Information

Professor:  Dr. Tammy Tobin
Course questions?  Email me!Course Questions?  Email me!



Office Location: 234F New Science Building
Office Phone: 4067
Office hours: T 9:30 am - 11:30 am , Th 12:00 pm - 2: 00 pm. Other Hours Gladly Set Up by Appointment. Walkins are always welcome!

Tweeting Hours: @Tobintc #SUMicrobz: Th 12:00 pm - 2:00 pm.

Texting Hours: Nope, sorry. My minimal cell phone plan will not support them :-)

Email Policy ( Monday-Friday: I always respond to emails as quickly as I can (generally within a few hours during the work day). However, I am an early riser (5:00 am), so emails that are sent after 8:00 pm M-F will NOT receive a response until the next morning. Weekends/Holidays: Unless I am completely out of email contact (this is possible, as I am an avid hiker/camper) I will check my email daily during weekends and holidays and respond within 24 hours.

Required Text

Virology: Principles and Applications by Carter and Saunders (Wiley, ISBN 978-0-470-02387-7)

Grade Standards 

Your final grade will be based on two exams (30%), Peer-Evaluated Teamwork (10%), in-class assignments and participation (30%), and a written report of your semester "Outbreak" project (30%).  Grades will be based on the table below.  There is no curve.

Percent Grade Letter Grade
93 A
90 A-
87 B+
84 B
80 B-
77 C+
74 C
70 C-
67 D+
64 D
60 D-
<60 F



If you are not in class, you will receive a zero for that day's work, and for that day's participation.  If you think you have a really good reason for missing class, you must let me know about it in advance, and I will decide if a make-up assignment is warranted.

Late Work

Since the reason I assigne work for class is to help you learn, I will always accept late work, and it will always receive more points than work that is simply not turned in (as long as you get something right, that is). Late (unexcused) work will be assessed a 10% per day late penalty, and that penalty starts the minute that I start class - so please do NOT come to class late because you are printing out that day's assignment. It won't change your grade a bit.

Fun Stuff:

Epidemiology and Prevention of Vaccine-Preventable Diseases: The CDC "Pink Book"

International Committee on the Taxonomy of Viruses (ICTV) Website

MMWR's photos, reports and quiz widget

MMWR's photos, reports and quiz widget. Flash Player 9 or above is required.
MMWR's photos, reports and quiz widget.
Flash Player 9 or above is required.

Schedule of Events for Spring 2014

Assignment (Due at or before Beginning of Class)


Viruses and Their Importance

Introduction to Epidemiology


Handout: Virology Class 1 Notes



1) Read Carter, Chapter 1

2) Read Where do emerging pathogens come from?


Emerging Infectious Diseases: Who, What, Where, When and Why?

Handout: Class 2 Worksheet

Everyone Must Read:

1) Emerging infectious diseases; controversies, causes and control

2) Carter, Chapter 21

Then Read One of the Following Papers, As Assigned:

A) Globally Mobile Populations and the Spread of Emerging Pathogens

B) Epidemics after Natural Disasters

C) Preventing and Controlling Emerging and Reemerging Transmissible Diseases in the Homeless

D) Public Health Threat of New, Reemerging, and Neglected Zoonoses in the Industrialized World

E) Urbanisation and infectious diseases in a globalised world


Virus Structure and Replication - An Overview

Handout: Virology Class 3 Notes


1) Read Carter, Chapters 3-4, 10 (Animal Viruses, Only)


Catch up day



Mini Case Study #1: dsDNA Viruses

Handout: Virology Class 4

The Outbreak Continues

1) Read Carter, Chapter 11

This, and all subsequent sessions will be supplemented by material from chapters 4-9, as appropriate.

Exam One
Exam One Review Questions

Virus Vaccines and Antiviral Agents

Handout: Virology Class 5 Notes

1) Read Carter, Chapters 24-25
Spring Break!

No New Assignments!


Mini Case Study #2: ssDNA Viruses

Handout: Virology Class 6

The Outbreak Continues

1) Read Carter, Chapter 12

Mini Case Study #3: dsRNA Viruses

Handout: Virology Class 7

The Outbreak Continues

1) Read Carter, Chapter 13


Exam Two

Exam Two Review Questions


Mini Case Study #4: (+) strand RNA viruses

The Outbreak Continues


1) Read Carter, Chapter 14

(+) strand RNA viruses

Handout: Virology Class 8

The Outbreak Continues

1) Read Carter, Chapter 14

Outbreak Presentations

The Outbreak Concludes


Class Evaluation, Class Summary


Final Exam Period

Friday, May 2, NO later than 10 am via email.

Final Paper Instructions

Final Outbreak Paper Due