Course Meeting Times

Lectures: 1 session / week, 2 hours / session


7.03 Genetics
7.05 General Biochemistry
7.06 Cell Biology
7.28 Molecular Biology

Course Summary

Today we can treat certain cancers and other chronic diseases with vaccines, antibiotics and antiviral drugs. Not so many years ago, such treatments were topics for science fiction. New discoveries have helped us understand common chronic diseases, such as cancer, atherosclerosis and diabetes. Many chronic diseases are caused by pathogens or by the chronic inflammatory response of our own bodies to pathogens. One striking clinical success story is the development of a vaccine against the virus that causes cervical cancer, human papilloma virus (HPV). About 20 years ago the causal relationship between HPV and cervical cancer was discovered. Through increasing molecular knowledge about HPV a recombinant vaccine was developed and has recently been introduced for broad use. It has been predicted that this vaccine will drastically reduce the incidence of cervical cancer. In this course we will explore the new emerging field of pathogen-induced chronic diseases. Work in this field has redefined the causes of some major disorders, such as ulcers. By reading the primary research literature we will learn about the molecular mechanisms through which pathogens cause disease. The diseases that we cover will be introduced with a short patient case study. We will discuss the bacterium Helicobacter pylori and gastric disease, HPV and cervical cancer, hepatitis C virus and liver disease, Epstein-Barr virus and lymphoma, Cytomegalovirus and atherosclerosis, as well as diabetes and multiple sclerosis. We will study technical advances in the fight against microbes and explore future directions for new treatment strategies of chronic infections and inflammation.

Course Format

This course will consist of 12 classes focusing on critical reading of original scientific literature. Two papers will be read in detail before each class and the results discussed in class. Attendance and participation in all classes is required. Students will have weekly assignments related to the reading, as well as a two—page essay and two oral presentations.


Grading is Pass/Fail and will depend on attendance, participation and completion of class assignments.


1 Introduction

2 EBV and lymphoproliferative disorders

3 MHV-68 as a model in mice for gamma herpes viruses Oral presentations about laboratory techniques
4 Gastric cancer and Helicobacter pylori I

5 Gastric cancer and Helicobacter pylori II

6 Human papillomavirus and cervical cancer I

7 Human papillomavirus and cervical cancer II

8 Vaccine development process - Guest speakers

9 Hepatitis C, liver cirrhosis and hepatocellular carcinoma

10 Atherosclerosis as an inflammatory disease I

11 Atherosclerosis as an inflammatory disease II Essay due
12 Diabetes and multiple sclerosis as an inflammatory disease

13 Oral presentations Oral presentations about essays

Course Info

Learning Resource Types

notes Lecture Notes
assignment Written Assignments
assignment Presentation Assignments