The Evolution of Infectious Diseases
Tuesdays 1 pm - 2:15 pm: 106 Boucke
Thursdays 1 pm - 2:15 pm: 106 Boucke
BIOL 497A is a three credit course.
Dr. Eddie Holmes
Department of Biology, The Pennsylvania State University
Tel: 814 863 4689
Emerging and reemerging diseases, such as HIV and West Nile, are now a major threat to human health,
while older ailments, such as malaria and tuberculosis, continue to kill millions of people each year.
course will explore how and why microbial pathogens evolve in the way they do and what this means for
Although a variety of diseases will be considered, the emphasis will be on those that cause
serious mortality and morbidity in humans today.
For each of the major class of pathogen – viruses,
bacteria and pathogenic eukaryotes – we will learn now genetic variation is generated, the major
mechanisms of evolutionary change, how the spread of these pathogens can be reconstructed using
phylogenetic and other evolutionary techniques, and how they are able to evade host immune responses
and different treatment strategies.
Special emphasis will be given to new, emerging diseases, such as HIV
and swine-origin influenza virus, and the evolutionary forces that allow their causative pathogens to jump
into new host species (and alternatively why some pathogens are unable to jump into new hosts).
course will therefore examine pathogen evolution at scales from the infection of individual patients to the
global human population.
To illustrate the general points made we will also consider a number of case
studies of pathogens that are of particular importance for human health, including HIV/AIDS, influenza,
rabies, hepatitis C, dengue, tuberculosis, meningitis,
, antibiotic resistant bacteria and malaria.
Upon completion of this course, students will understand the patterns and processes of evolution in
bacterial, viral and eukaryotic pathogens.
They will understand the different ways in which genetic variation
is generated in both bacterial and viral populations (the key processes of evolutionary change), and what