Infectious diseases resulting from viruses, parasites, prions, and bacteria are a major cause of human morbidity and mortality. Some important infectious diseases, including HIV, malaria, and hepatitis C are becoming more rather than less prevalent. The threat of emerging infectious diseases and bioterrorism also calls for increased research in the area of microbiology, and in fact the NIH is greatly increasing research funding for work on infectious diseases. The recent outbreak of SARS and the continued spread of West Nile virus in North America are but two recent examples of emerging infectious diseases. By studying human pathogens, it is also frequently possible to learn much about normal cell biology, molecular biology, and immunology - infectious agents have long been used as model systems to study important processes.
The University of Pennsylvania has a very collaborative and integrated research program in microbiology involving approximately 60 faculty throughout the campus. The program provides the best graduate training available in the molecular and cellular biology of viral and bacterial pathogenesis and parasitology. The current research interests of the faculty in microbiology and virology encompass a broad range of disciplines including:
Faculty throughout the Perelman School of Medicine, the School of Veterinary Medicine, the School of Dental Medicine, the School of Arts and Sciences, Children's Hospital, the Fox Chase Cancer Center and the Wistar Institute participate.
The program has an extensive series of seminars designed to not only expose students to the latest and hottest research in microbiology, but to give students an opportunity to present their work to a large and diverse audience. The program feels that it is important for students to gain experience in speaking about their work in public, as this is an important facet of any job in science, and a weekly Tuesday noon seminar with average attendance of approximately 90 faculty, students, postdocs and technicians provides this forum for the virology trainees. Similar seminar series are held for our bacteriology and parasitology students. The Wednesday Microbiology seminar series features prominent scientists from throughout the country and Europe who talk about their latest work in virology, bacteriology, parasitology, and immune responses. As part of this series each semester, there is an Alumni Day when a former MVP program student or postdoc who is now an Assistant Professor at another institution returns to campus to talk about their work and to meet with current students over lunch to talk about their careers. More information on the various seminars can be found on the MIcrobiology Department Website.
See Academic section of this site for more information on the CAMB graduate group's requirements and related topics.
CAMB 510: Immunology for CAMB students
The purpose of this course is to provide a thorough grounding in immunology to Cell and Molecular Biology graduate students, with an emphasis on the role of the immune system in combating infectious and neoplastic disease, and its role in immunopathological states such as autoimmunity and allergy. This is a required course for CAMB students in the Microbiology, Virology and Parasitology program and the Vaccine and Gene Therapy program, replacing IMM 506 (Immune Mechanisms). It may also be used as an elective by CAMB students in other programs.
The course is divided into two parts. The first deals with basic innate and adaptive immune mechanisms, the structure, function, and molecular biology of antigen receptors and major histocompatibility complex molecules, and the development, activation, and differentiation of lymphocytes and other hematopoietic cells involved in immunity. The second part will cover the immune response to infection by bacteria, viruses, and parasites, and the clinical and applied aspects of immunopathological states such as cancer and autoimmunity. The course is comprised of two 1.5 hour lectures per week, and there will be two exams. The first will be taken after part I, and the second after part II of the course. Both will be open-book and in-class exams.[up]
CAMB 546: Medical Virology
This course will introduce students to diverse basic principles that contribute to viral pathogenesis. We will use HIV as a model to illustrate specific elements that relate to disease development, emphasizing; a) pathogenesis, b) immunology, c) retroviral replication cycle, and d) vaccine development. Offered spring smester.
One 1.5 to 2hour class weekly for the course of the semester. The first class will include two 45-minute introductory lectures given by the course instructors. Each week, a student will lead the class in the dissection and discussion of published papers on a specific topic. The format that we will follow will be a 20-minute introduction presented by the student followed by the analysis of one to two articles, which will be presented by the student and discussed by the class.[up]
CAMB 548: Bacteriology
The format of this course will be two lectures and one student presentation/paper discussion per section. The course will begin by introducing molecular mechanisms in bacterial replication, then cover detailed studies of approaches to the analysis of host-bacterial replication, then cover detailed studies of bacterial interactions. The course will cover the general concepts and recent advance of how bacterial pathogens prepare to infect the host, the successful strategies bacteria used to infect the host, and how they survive after the infection. Offered fall semester.[up]
CAMB 549: Parasitology and Parasitism
Parasites infect over one quarter of the world’s population and parasitic diseases are a leading cause of death globally. A new course, entitled "Parasites and Parasitism", is to be offered to first and second year MVP students over a seven-week block in the spring semester. The course will begin with an introduction to the major protozoan and helminth pathogens of humans, their geographic distribution and the diseases they cause. Subsequent lectures will emphasize a variety of topics from the current research literature using specific parasitic pathogens as examples. These will include how various protozoans enter cells and adapt to different intracellular habitats or how helminths utilize different strategies to survive within the GI tract. Malaria and schistosomiasis will serve as examples for how parasites cause disease while trypanosomes and leishmaniasis will be discussed as models for how parasites survive or evade immune elimination. Finally, several helminth and protozoan systems will be used to demonstrate the intimate association between parasite and vector that leads to efficient transmission. In addition to lectures, weekly discussion sessions will provide an opportunity for students to review papers or research specific topics and present their findings to their colleagues.[up]
CAMB 601: Advanced Virology Seminar
This seminar course covers current topics and important concepts in virology. Students will read selected papers on various topics in virology. Each subject will be illustrated by ground-breaking classic papers and innovative recent articles. Students will present a seminar under the guidance of a faculty member. Grades will be based on the guidance of a faculty member. Grades will be lbased on the quality of the seminar(s) and participation in discussion.[up]
CAMB 609: Vaccines and Immune Therapeutics
The goal of this course is to expand on students’ general understanding of the immune system and to focus this understanding towards the application of vaccination. Furthermore the course will give the student a sense of how these principles are applied to vaccine and immune therapeutic development. The course covers basic science as well as the clinical, ethical & political implications of modern vaccines.
Initial lectures review immune mechanisms believed to be responsible for vaccine induced protection from disease. Subsequent lectures build on this background to explore the science of vaccines for diverse pathogens, including agents of bioterrorism as well as vaccines for cancer. An appreciation for the application of laboratory science to the clinical development of vaccines is provided in the next section of the course along with lectures that focus on the ethical implications of vaccines in different situations. The financial implications of specific vaccines and their impact on the global community, is a specific focus of the course.
The course is lecture style and has a required reading to provide the students background for the specific topic. Students are graded on course participation, a project and a final written exam. The project is to propose in a written report a vaccine strategy for a current pathogen of importance that does not as yet have an effective vaccine. Strategies used should build on the material presented in the class lectures. The course is intended for graduate students or medical students in various MS, Ph.D. or MD/Ph.D. programs on the campus as well as local scientists and professionals in the community. As a prerequisite students should have taken biology, biochemistry or immunology courses at the advanced college level. [up]
CAMB 617: Emerging Infectious Diseases
A physician from just 25 years ago would not recognize two of today's most pressing public health problems, AIDS and Hepatitis C, nor be familiar with many other infectious diseases or agents including Ebola virus, Hantaanvirus, HTLV-1, HHV-8 and Borrelia burgdorferi. Such a physician might also be dismayed to learn that old enemies such as tuberculosis, malaria, diphtheria, West Nile virus, meningococcal meningitis, Yellow fever, and Dengue have become more (or rather less) prevalent due to antibiotic resistance and other factors. In addition, bioterrorism, long a theoretical possibility, is now part of today's reality and could result in the deliberate introduction of anthrax or other biological agents into the civilian population or the food supply. Thus, with the beginning of the new millennium, the medical profession, the veterinary profession, and the biomedical research establishment are faced with the triple-threat of emerging infectious diseases, reemerging infectious diseases, and bioterrorism. These topics are covered in this course, with an emphasis on student's participation in the discussion.
Emerging Infectious Diseases will cover emerging viral, bacterial and parasitic organisms, with lectures being given by faculty from the Schools of Medicine, Veterinary Medicine, Dental Medicine, and Arts and Sciences, and outside lecturers. Epidemiology, immune responses to infection, vaccine and antimicrobial agents, and pathogenesis all will be discussed. The course format will include short lectures by various faculty members to provide background information on each topic, followed by extensive discussion by students as well as separate review and discussion sessions. Classes will run from 10am to 11:30am on Mondays and Wednesdays in Johnson 209. Evaluation will be based on a writing assignment (TBD) and participation in discussion sessions. Given fall semester. [up]
IMUN 506: Immune Mechanisms
Permission of instructor required. The course assumes basic knowledge of the immune system. This course is a team taught, lecture-based course which utilizes primary experimental and the primary literature to examine basic cellular and molecular aspects of the immune system. The course will begin with a general overview, move to a discussion of receptor families, cell types, and processes of recombination and antigen presentation. The course will then examine the development and activation of the innate and adaptive immune response. Lectures in each relevant topic will be followed by discussion groups focusing on primary readings. Offered Fall Semester [up]
CAMB 608: Regulation of Eukaryotic Gene Expression
An advanced seminar course emphasizing the molecular biology and molecular genetics of transcription in eukaryotes. Based on current literature, the presentations and discussions will familiarize the student with present day technology and developing principles. Offered fall semester. [up]
CAMB 637. Gene Therapy: Vectors, Immunology and Disease
Prerequisite(s): Background in molecular biology, virology and immunology. This seminar course is designed to provide students with a cohesive understanding of important immunological aspects of gene therapy. Gene therapy approached based on parvovirus-derived vectors will be used as an example to address the following four major themes: immune responses to the vector, immune responses to the transgene product in treatment of genetic disease, strategies for prevention of undesired immune responses in gene therapy, and use of vectors to induce antigen-specific immune responses. Students are expected to have solid background in immunology and virology. Each class consists of a brief introduction by an instructor, reviewing background information related to the theme discussion. The topics are explored through discussions, led by faculty, of research articles. Copies of the articles are distributed at class in advance, and students are expected to have thoroughly reviewed the assigned articles and to be able to present and discuss various aspects of the papers. Completion of CAMB 610 (The Molecular Basis of Gene Therapy) is not required for enrollment in this course. Offered in alternate years. Offered spring semester 2004.[up]
CAMB 696: Contemporary Topics in Parasitology Research
The specific aims of this course are:
CAMB 700: Topics in Microbiology
This course is designed for second year students in the MVP program, and focuses on pathogen-host interactions. Students make a presentation designed for 30 minutes on a topic of their choice. The topic can be something that they are working on, or simply something that they are interested in. They are requested to provide sufficient background, discuss what is known and what is not known about the topic, and then frame two to three Specific Aims. The success of the course rests entirely upon the quality of the faculty and students involved. In past years, the class have been very interactive, with each of the 11 classes lasting about 1.5 hours. The discussions are deliberately wide-ranging, and review recent literature, techniques, and how to construct a grant. Generally, two faculty will be in attendance. [up]
IMUN 508: Immune Responses
This course is designed to (1) extend the basic immunology principles addressed in 506, and (2) apply the fundamental principles of the mechanism of immune recognition and development presented in 506 to the immune response in health and disease in vivo. The course is designed as a series of minicourses which may change from year to year. Each minicourse will cover an important topic in immunology in detail. Students must take three minicourses over the spring semester and must take at least one each from the basic and applied immunology categories.
Each minicourse will consist of 6 hours/week for 4 weeks. The semester will be divided into 3 sessions with between 2 to 3 minicourses offered each session. The minicourses will be taught as a combination of formal lectures and seminar-format discussions of relevant literature. Each minicourse will have a slightly different format. Offered spring semester. [up]