My virology course at Columbia University

w3310 virology 2012The third annual installment of my virology course at Columbia University, Biology W3310, has begun. This course, which I taught for the first time in 2009, is intended for advanced undergraduates and will be taught at the Morningside Campus.

Until I started this course, no instruction in virology had been offered at the Morningside Heights campus of Columbia University since the late 1980s. This is a serious omission for a first-class University. Sending graduates into the world without even a fundamental understanding of viruses and viral disease is inexcusable.

Course enrollment has steadily increased: 45 students in the 2009, 66 students in 2010, and an amazing 88 students this year. I am gratified that so many students want to learn about the world of viruses. From the photo you can see that the classroom is full, so if interest in the course continues to increase, we will need a larger room.

Most readers of virology blog will not be able to sit in on each lecture – but you can still watch every one of them. You will find a videocast of each lecture at the course website, at my page on Vimeo, and at iTunes University. An archive of the 2011 version of this course is available online or at iTunes University. I will announce when each lecture is posted on Twitter and Google+. Virology is a rapidly moving field, so rest assured that this year’s version of the course will be different.

The goal of Virology W3310 is to provide an understanding of how viruses are built, how they replicate and evolve, how they cause disease, and how to prevent infection. After taking the course, some of the students might want to become virologists. The course will also provide the knowledge required to make informed decisions about health issues such as immunization against viral infections.

Thanks to the internet, the information in my virology course is accessible to everyone.

Bernard F. Erlanger, 88

erlangerWe note the passing of Bernard F. Erlanger, Ph.D., Professor Emeritus of Microbiology & Immunology at Columbia University Medical Center. Bernie, as he was known to his colleagues, joined our department in 1952 after earning his Ph.D. in biochemistry at Columbia University in 1951, and remained a member of the department until he passed away on September 8, 2011. Dr. Erlanger served as director of the department’s graduate program for many years, then as Acting and Deputy Chair of the department, and was also the Chair of the Science & Technology Policy Committee at Columbia.

Dr. Erlanger had a distinguished career as a biochemist and immunologist, and his research interests were very broad. They included developing receptor specific antibodies using an auto-anti-idiotypic strategy, studying nucleic acid structure and conformation, investigating microtubule assembly, and developing antibodies to carbon nanotubules and fullerenes. He was an active inventor with over a dozen scientific patents, including patents for the creation and delivery of specific antibodies, detection of HIV, and treatment of HIV and sickle cell disease. Dr. Erlanger was the recipient of many scientific awards and honors throughout his career, including a Fulbright Scholarship, a Guggenheim Fellowship, and the Townsend Harris Medal.

Virology course online at the midway point

virology courseWe have just completed lecture #13 in my Columbia University virology course, which means that we are now at the halfway mark. In the first eleven lectures we covered basic aspects of viral replication in cell culture, including virus entry into cells, genome replication, and assembly. The remainder of the course is concerned with viral infection of a host, and will cover topics such as pathogenesis, immunity, immunization, antivirals, and evolution.

All the virology lectures are available as videocasts (slides and audio) either at the course website, or at iTunes University. Below is a list of lectures that I have given so far in the course, with links to the videocast (.mp4 or .wmv files). To download the videocast, right click the link and save the file to your hard drive.

Virology Lectures

  • Lecture 1 – What is a virus? (.mp4 .wmv)
  • Lecture 2 – The infectious cycle (.mp4 .wmv)
  • Lecture 3 – Genomes and genetics (.mp4 .wmv)
  • Lecture 4 – Structure of viruses (.mp4 .wmv)
  • Lecture 5 – Attachment & entry (.mp4 .wmv)
  • Lecture 6 – RNA-directed RNA synthesis (.mp4 .wmv)
  • Lecture 7 – Genome replication of DNA viruses (.mp4 .wmv)
  • Lecture 8 – Transcription and RNA processing (.mp4 .wmv)
  • Lecture 9 – Reverse transcription and integration (.mp4 .wmv)
  • Lecture 10 – Translation (.mp4 .wmv)
  • Lecture 11 – Assembly (.mp4 .wmv)
  • Lecture 12 – Infection basics (.mp4 .wmv)
  • Lecture 13 – Host defense (.mp4 .wmv)

A virology course at Columbia University

winter3My virology course at Columbia University, Biology W3310, has begun. This course, which I taught for the first time in 2009, is aimed at advanced undergraduates and will be taught at the Morningside Campus of Columbia University.

Columbia University encompasses two principal campuses: the historic, neoclassical campus in the Morningside Heights neighborhood and the modern Medical Center further uptown, in Washington Heights. The two are separated by fifty-two city blocks, a distance of over two miles and 20-30 minutes by subway. My laboratory is at the Medical Center, where I’ve taught a variety of virology courses over the years. However, until last year, a virology course had not been offered at the Morningside Heights campus since the late 1980s. This is a serious omission for a first-class University. Sending graduates into the world without even a fundamental understanding of viruses and viral disease is inexcusable. Remedying this problem is one reason why I developed a new virology course. The other is that I love teaching about viruses.

Biology W3310 will be taught on Mondays and Wednesdays at 4:10 PM. The course rationale and schedule can be found at the course website. The recommended textbook is Principles of Virology, Third Edition, by Flint et al. Students in the course will also read virology blog and listen to the podcast This Week in Virology.

Videocasts of each lecture will be posted at the course website and at iTunes University. An archive of last year’s course material is available online or at iTunes University.

The goal of Biology W3310 is to provide an understanding of how viruses are built, how they replicate and evolve, how they cause disease, and how to prevent infection. After taking the course, some of the students might want to become virologists. The course will also provide the knowledge required to make informed decisions about health issues such as immunization against viral infections.

Thanks to the internet, the information in my virology course is accessible to everyone.

Virology lecture #25: West Nile Story

In the final lecture of my virology course, Professor Dickson Despommier weaves a story about the arrival of West Nile virus to the United States in the summer of 1999. This is a special treat that you won’t want to miss, as Prof. Despommier is a wonderful storyteller.

Download: .wmv (422 MB) | .mp4 (108 MB)

Visit the virology W3310 home page for a complete list of course resources.

Virology lecture #18: HIV pathogenesis


Download: .wmv (330 MB) | .mp4 (72 MB)

Visit the virology W3310 home page for a complete list of course resources.

Virology lecture #11: Assembly


Download: .wmv (354 MB) | .mp4 (104 MB)

Visit the virology W3310 home page for a complete list of course resources.

Virology lecture #10: Transcription and RNA processing


Download: .wmv (331 MB) | .mp4 (71 MB)

Presented by guest lecturer Saul Silverstein, Ph.D.

Visit the virology W3310 home page for a complete list of course resources.

Virology lecture #4: Structure of viruses


Download: .wmv (394 MB) | .mp4 (110 MB)

Visit the virology W3310 home page for a complete list of course resources.

Virology lecture #3: Genomes and genetics


Download: .wmv (333 MB) | .mp4 (75 MB)

Visit the virology W3310 home page for a complete list of course resources.