Thirty-five years ago this month, in September 1982, I arrived at Columbia University College of Physicians & Surgeons to open my virology laboratory. I brought with me an infectious DNA copy of the poliovirus RNA genome, the first of its kind, and a lot of enthusiasm. Over the years we used this infectious DNA to study poliovirus neurovirulence, pathogenesis, and translation, among other topics; I wrote grant applications, published papers, and trained new scientists. In short, I was a typical academic scientist.
My career forked in 2000 with the publication by the American Society for Microbiology of the textbook Principles of Virology. Because this book was written by process, not by virus, each of the authors learned far more virology than ever before. As a consequence of writing this book, I became interested in disseminating virology to the public. Beginning with virology blog in 2004, I began to use social media to communicate science. This interest has lead to a collection of blogs, podcasts, lectures, and videos, in addition to four editions of Principles of Virology.
Recently virologist Islam Hussein, founder of Virolvlog and an avid science communicator, decided to summarize my modest scicomm career with an infographic. I’m grateful to Islam for this lovely chart, which was produced by Mohamed Gaawan. Here’s to the next 35 years.
Every year I teach a virology course to undergraduates and masters students at Columbia University. I record video and audio of each of the twenty-five lectures and release them on YouTube – so that not only the students but the rest of the world can learn about the amazing field of virology.
With the spring semester behind us, this year’s lecture series is complete (link to the entire playlist at YouTube). The first 11 lectures cover the fundamentals of virus replication, including virus entry into cells, genome replication, protein synthesis, and assembly. In the remaining 14 lectures we focus on how viruses cause disease, how to prevent or resolve infections, and viral evolution and emergence.
All the lecture slides are also available as pdf files, as well as study questions for each lecture. You can find them at virology.ws/course.
I plan to use these videos to revise my Coursera virology course – which is no longer online – by the end of the summer.
Vincent Racaniello interviews Harmit Malik, PhD, Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center. Harmit and his laboratory are interested in a variety of problems that are characterized by evolutionary conflict.
This video is one of 26 video interviews with eminent virologists that are part of the supplemental material for Principles of Virology, 4th Edition, published by ASM Press. Other interviews in this series can be found at this link.
In this episode of Virus Watch, we explore the finding that Zika virus infects the testis of mice, causing damage to the organ, reduced sperm production, and less fertility. The important question: does the same happen in humans?
In this episode of Virus Watch, I explain how mosquitoes spread viruses. We’ll look at how a mosquito finds a host, how it finds a blood vessel, and how it delivers viruses to a new host. Don’t blame mosquitoes for viral diseases: it’s not their fault!
Have you always wanted to better understand viruses, but did not know where to start? I have the solution for you – my undergraduate virology course. The 2016 version has just ended, and all the lectures are available as videos, either on YouTube or here at virology blog (where you can also find lecture slides and study questions).
It will take some time for you to watch all the videos – each is about 70 minutes long – but the effort will be worth it. In the end you will know more virology than most of the world. With new viruses emerging annually, don’t you want to understand how they work? Go ahead, dive in.