Further information: Ted Johnson: Microbes, Immune Responses, and Emerging Diseases

No textbook will be required, but online resources and case study worksheets reflecting the concepts presented will be distributed and discussed, in addition to questions raised in class by students. The material to be covered is at the basic introductory level, so that a prior background in science is not needed.

Tentative syllabus:

Session One: The microbial world includes algae, protozoa, fungi, bacteria and viruses. Will discuss the characteristics and reproduction of bacteria, which distinguishes bacteria from all other forms of life. Some bacteria cause disease by invading the host or by producing toxins. Most microbial diseases can be treated or prevented.

Session Two: Viruses are unique forms of life and often cause disease. Viruses have a major impact on our lives. Viruses have a simple structure and invade cells. Viruses replicate inside cells and cause cell death.

Session Three: The immune system is composed of many different white blood cells which respond to bacterial and viral infections. The immune response usually controls the infection and results in a memory response which protect against further encounters with that microbe. Immune response is also generated to cancer and to transplanted organs or cells. The immune system can overreact as in an allergy and in some instances can form an autoimmune response when reacting against self.

Session Four: Bacterial infections can usually be treated with chemotherapeutic drugs. Resistance to the drugs is becoming a major worldwide problem. Vaccination can be used to prevent bacterial or viral diseases. Laboratory generated monoclonal antibodies or other forms of immunotherapy is available for some microbial diseases.

Session Five: Emerging or reemerging disease are a major concern. Why do the diseases emerge, what leads to their formation? What role does the environment play in their origin? What is fact, what is fiction? Emerging skin diseases such an those caused by “flesh eating “ bacteria and cardiovascular disease like Ebola are current emerging diseases.

Session Six: Emerging sexually transmitted diseases such as AIDs and reemerging intestinal track diseases like cholera and hepatitis C have an impact on our lives. Neurological disease caused by prions such as mad cow diseases present unique challenges.

Session Seven: Emerging respiratory diseases ranging from tuberculosis to recurring epidemics of influenza continue to be a major global problem.

Session Eight: The current worldwide COVID 19 pandemic has had a drastic impact on our lives. Why was it so dangerous ? What is ahead? Are more deadly diseases in our futures? What is fact and what is a myth?