Earth’s virology course for 2016

Do you want to learn virology? Every spring I teach a virology course at Columbia University, and this year’s version has just started. I record every lecture and put the videos on YouTube. Here is a link to the playlist: Virology Lectures 2016. Lecture #1, What is a Virus, is embedded below as a teaser.

I strongly believe that the best approach to teaching introductory virology is by emphasizing shared principles. Studying the phases of the viral reproductive cycle, illustrated with a set of representative viruses, provides an overview of the steps required to maintain these infectious agents in nature. Such knowledge cannot be acquired by learning a collection of facts about individual viruses. Consequently, the major goal of my virology course is to define and illustrate the basic principles of animal virus biology.

You can find the complete course syllabus, pdf files of the slides, and reading at

My goal is to be Earth’s virology professor, and this is my virology course for the planet.

Earth’s virology course

Virology class 2013The spring semester has just ended at Columbia University, which means that my annual virology course has also concluded.

The course met twice weekly, during which time we discussed the basic principles of virology, including how virions are built, how they replicate, and how they cause disease. For the last two lectures of the course we discussed viruses in the public eye, namely XMRV and influenza H5N1.

Each lecture in my virology course was recorded as a videocast and is available at the course website, at iTunes University, or on YouTube. One hundred and eighty-five Columbia University undergraduates registered for the virology course in 2013, but nearly 100,000 individuals have subscribed to the course through iTunes University. I strongly believe that the general public must understand as much as possible about viruses, so they can participate in the debate about issues that impact them, such as vaccination, H7N9, and the new coronavirus CoV-MERS. As I have said before, it is my goal to be Earth’s virology professor, and this is my virology course for the planet.

In August, my Virology course will become the fourth course from Columbia University to be offered as a MOOC (massive open online course) via Coursera. Below is a short video which explains that offering. Click here to register for part I of my Coursera virology course.