PATH 437/MICB 407 Viral Infections in Humans

PATH 437/MICB 407 Viral Infections in Humans

Outline and Objectives


This course is an introduction to problem or case-based learning. The cases will cover both the pathogenesis and clinical features of viral diseases. Some of the cases will focus on viral persistence and latency, viral interaction with the immune system, oncogenesis and perinatal viral infections. Others will provide a clinical perspective of human viral disease including diagnosis, prevention and treatment. The course is designed to bridge the gap between molecular and medical virology. For students considering a career in medicine or in medical research involving viruses, it will provide a strong background on the
nature of viruses and how they interact with the human host.


  1. To teach the basic concepts of viral pathogenesis, including routes of transmission, viral persistence and latency, viral interaction with the immune system, oncogenesis and perinatal infections.
  2. To teach students clinical concepts of human viral disease, including symptoms, diagnosis, prevention and treatment.


By the successful completion of Path 437, students will be able to describe pathogenic mechanisms for acute, latent and persistent viral infections and how viruses are associated with certain human tumours. In addition, they will be familiar with the clinical symptoms of human viral disease and will also be able to list diagnostic methods, preventive approaches and treatment modalities.

There are two 90 min sessions per week – during the first session on each topic (the Friday session), there will be a 60 min didactic lecture covering the background information on the topic. A “case” or “scenario” will then be handed out together with a set of questions. The class will look over the case/scenario and add 3 or 4 additional questions or “learning issues” to the list. Each student will then be expected to return on the second day (the following Wednesday) ready to discuss the topic and having prepared a short written answer (NOT hand-written) to each of the questions. The students will be expected to participate enthusiastically in the discussion and “solving” the case.

The lecturer will provide handouts for the lectures. In addition, the students’ written answers to the questions on each topic are expected to serve as study notes. The students will be provided with a few references/ book chapters as a starting point for their research on each topic but are expected to find additional references on their own.

Students will be evaluated in three ways:

  1. They will be assessed at the weekly group discussions for both participation/attitude and their written notes on the set questions (40% of the mark)
  2. Interactive sessions will be held, where each student gets an opportunity to present a virological topic that has been handed out earlier during term. The answer will be presented orally (5 minutes) followed by a 2-3 minutes discussion.(10% of the mark)
  3. Final examination: a written examination consisting of 4-6 questions in a format similar to the weekly sessions, namely a case presentation and short answer deduction from this. (50% of the mark.)