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BIOL 434

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Pathobiology Of Emerging Infectious Disease

BIOL 434

Spring 2015

106 Wartik

Tu/Th 1:00-2:15

Mary Poss, DVM, PhD

229B MSC

Course related communications through ANGEL only!!


Office hours by appointment


Course Overview

BIOL 434 will provide an integrative analysis of the pathology, immunology, microbiology, evolutionary biology, and policy of important global emerging and re-emerging infectious diseases. We will focus on those diseases affecting the respiratory, gastrointestinal, and central nervous systems. This course is suitable for students in any of the biological or ecological sciences with a background in cell and molecular biology, genetics, and evolution and a passion for learning. 
Journal articles and videos for class discussions are provided on ANGEL/Lessons. All homework, reading assignments, and in-class assignments are posted on the course calendar on ANGEL. Please check the calendar regularly for class assignments.
i>Clickers will be used regularly in class; bring it with you to class daily. Please make sure you have registered your i>Clicker.
Complete the fields with your first name, last name, student ID, and
remote ID. Your student ID should be your Access Account ID, (not your 9 digit student number). 
To set the frequency for your i>clicker:
1. Press and hold the ON/OFF button on the clicker until the Power light flashes
2. Release the power button, and type in the assigned frequency, one letter at a time.
3. If the frequency is entered correctly, the Vote Status light will briefly turn green.

Useful URLs

The Center for Disease Control and many links from that page, including the journals, Emerging Infectious Diseases and Morbidity and Mortality Weekly. 

The World Health Organization



Academic dishonesty is not limited to simply cheating on an exam or assignment. The following is quoted directly from the "PSU Faculty Senate Policies for Students" regarding academic integrity and academic dishonesty: "Academic integrity is the pursuit of scholarly activity free from fraud and deception and is an educational objective of this institution. Academic dishonesty includes, but is not limited to, cheating, plagiarizing, fabricating of information or citations, facilitating acts of academic dishonesty by others, having unauthorized possession of examinations, submitting work of another person or work previously used without informing the instructor, or tampering with the academic work of other students." All University and Eberly College of Science policies regarding academic integrity/academic dishonesty apply to this course and the students enrolled in this course. Refer to the following URL for further details on the academic integrity policies of the Eberly College of Science. Each student in this course is expected to work entirely on her/his own while taking any exam, to complete assignments on her/his own effort without the assistance of others unless directed otherwise by the instructor, and to abide by University and Eberly College of Science policies about academic integrity and academic dishonesty. Please note that academic dishonesty applies to the use of i>clickers in class. Academic dishonesty can result in assignment of "F" by the course instructors or "XF" by Judicial Affairs as the final grade for the student.

Many of you will go into health related professions. Please consider the effect that cheating, falsifying information, or misrepresenting information would have on the health and well being of individuals who will depend on your knowledge and integrity. 


Grades will be based on:

1. 2 Exams (30% each) = 60%

2. 2 Quizzes (15% each) = 30%

3. Independent Project =  3%

4. Homework =  4%

5. In-class exercises =  5%

1. Your exams will be based on class discussions and assigned readings and will be multiple choice. Each exam will include all important concepts and material covered up to the date of the test. A make up exam will be scheduled for those who miss an exam and who have contacted me >>before the exam<< providing a legitimate excuse.

2. There will be 2 quizzes given. Quizzes are based on a primary scientific paper and will include short answer, a concise essay, and multiple choice questions. A make up quiz will be scheduled for those who miss the quiz and who have contacted me >>before the quiz<< providing a legitimate excuse. 

3. There is one independent project for the course to investigate some of the new emerging diseases. The infections to be investigated and the questions to be addressed for the project will be posted before spring break.

4. Homework due dates will be posted on the ANGEL calendar for the course. I will also remind you of assignments in class. Homework questions and instructions can be found on ANGEL under Lessons.  They must be submitted to the ANGEL dropbox using the specified format and by the time indicated. Do not email them. Homework submitted within an hour of the due data will be accepted but your score will be decreased by 10%. Your homework will be graded for composition and grammar, content and clarity, integration of concepts, and the use of data from the readings to support your answers. There are no make-ups on homework.

5. In-class exercises will be used to ascertain that you understand key concepts and to gain experience interpreting data; all exercises will use i>Clickers. You will receive a point for participating in each class and additional points on some questions for correct answers. If you choose not to attend class, be aware that you will forfeit 5% of your total score. There are no make-ups on in-class exercises and written answers will not be accepted if you forget your clicker. 

Grades for the course will be assigned as follows:
A  (90-100%)
B (80-89%)
C (69-79%)
D (57-68%)
F ( 0-56%)
There are no plus (+) or minus (–) grades in this class.


If you have a documented disability and wish to receive academic accommodations, please contact the campus disability liaison as soon as possible. For additional information, contact the Office for Disability Services (ODS) at 814-863-1807 (V/TTY) or check the university web site.

Course Goals

In this course you will learn new concepts and will integrate and apply concepts that you have learned in other life sciences courses - including microbiology, immunology, and evolutionary biology. The overriding goal is to develop an understanding of the special features of the class of diseases that are labeled ‘emergent’. To accomplish this, you will need to:
1. Know the characteristics of an emerging infectious disease.
2. Know why each disease discussed is considered an emerging infection.
3. Know the basic principles of organ pathology for specific emerging diseases discussed or assigned in class. 
4. Know microbiological, pathological, and epidemiological features that characterize each emerging infectious disease discussed or assigned in class.
5. Know the inflammatory process.
6. Correlate inflammatory processes with the clinical presentation of each emerging infection discussed or assigned in class.
7. Understand why knowing pathogenesis helps inform intervention policy.
Exams (60% of grade) will be the principal means to test how well you master these goals.
A second goal of the course is to develop skills in interpreting primary data and using data to answer questions related to emerging infectious diseases. There is no text in this class, so information will come from class discussions, Internet sources and articles from the primary scientific literature. To accomplish these goals, you will need to:
1. Develop skills reading the scientific literature.
2. Develop skills in systematically evaluating information. 
3. Learn to use data from multiple sources to reach decisions.
4. Learn to objectively and concisely present relevant data to answer a question.
Quizzes, homework, independent project, and in-class exercises (42%) will be the principal means to test how well you master these goals. There are 102 total points but your grade will be based on 100 points, so there are 2 extra credit points available


Week 1. Course Overview: Establishing key concepts to study emerging infections. Virology

Week 2. Immunity and Inflammation. Basic pathology of the respiratory system 

Week 3. Pandemic influenza

Week 4. Pandemic Influenza. Quiz 1 (15%) Feb 5

Week 5. Pandemic influenza: H5N1. Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome 

Week 6. SARS & MERS 

Week 7. Hantavirus pulmonary syndrome 

Week 8. Multiple Drug Resistant Tuberculosis. Exam  (30%) March 5. 

Week 9. [Spring Break]

Week 10. Emerging diseases of the Gastrointestinal System. Cholera. 

Week 11. Norovirus gastroenteritis.  Quiz 2. Mar 26 (15%) 

Week 12. Emerging diseases of the CNS.

Week 13. Arthropod borne infections. West Nile Virus. 

Week 14. Equine Encephalitis Viruses.  Exam  (30%) April 16

Week 15. Independent investigations. A. Chikungunya. B. Nipah

Week 16. Ebola