MICB 407/MICB 407 Viral Infections in Humans

MICB 407/PATH 437 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 MICB 407/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 90 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. We will discuss this homework during the next scheduled lecture.

Each student will then be expected to return on the second day (the following Wednesday) having prepared a short written answer and ready to discuss the topic.  Students will be expected to participate enthusiastically in the discussion and “solving” the case.

Part of the grade assessment is student participation, so attendance during the class time will be essential.

The lecturer may provide handouts for the lectures or refer to published papers. 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 for their written answers to the weekly cases (homework) (10 marks each) as well as their participation in the group discussions (50% of the mark)
  2. Student Presentations will be held, where each student gets an opportunity to present a virological topic of their own choosing (and approved by either lead instructor).  Students will present orally (10 minutes) followed by a 5-minute discussion. These talks will run over the last 7 lecture times (25% of the mark).
  3. Final examination: a take-home written examination consisting of 4-6 questions in a format similar to the weekly sessions, namely a case presentation and a deductive short answer based on the case.  Exams will be passed out by the last day of class and due before the end of the formal exam period (25% of the mark).