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CIHMID-relevant Course Listing

The following is a list of Cornell courses in host-microbe biology that may be of interest to advanced undergraduate and graduate students.



Microbes, the Earth, and Everything
BIOMI 1120 / PLSC 1120
Instructors: K. Hefferon & D. Buckley
Fall (3 credits) – Student option grading
We live on a microbial earth. If we happen to consider microbes in our daily lives most people conjure images of disease, but in reality we depend on microbes to sustain our world. This course showcases the vast microbial world that hides in plain sight all around us and use microbial examples to explore both fundamental biological principles and the scientific method. Course modules emphasize basic concepts from evolution, molecular biology and genetics, diversity, and ecology. Learn about the tiny titans and miniature monsters that are the life support system of our planet, how they have shaped human civilizations, and how they reveal the unifying principles of life.

BIOMI 2100
Instructor: S. Winans
Fall, Spring (2 credits) – Student option grading
Prerequisite: one semester of general biology. 
This class will explore the current theories about the chemical origins of life on earth, and will then use these insights to discuss the search for life on other planets, inside the Solar system and outside. Topics will include origin of the Sun, the Big Bang, the formation of Earth, the origin of life, from the prebiotic synthesis of amino acids, nucleobases, and other building blocks of life, the evolution of primitive protocells, the earliest RNA-based catalysts, the evolution of protein synthesis machinery, and the origins of eukaryotic cells. We will conclude with strategies and progress in identifying life on other planets in our solar system and on planets orbiting other stars.

Public Health Microbiology
BioMI 2500
Instructors: S. Winans
Fall (3 credits) – Student option grading
Prerequisite: the equivalent of two semesters of majors-level biology and one semester general chemistry.
This course will use a variety of teaching methods (including historical and current case studies and databases) to help students understand basic principles of microbiology as they apply to the emergence, transmission, pathogenicity, and control of infectious human disease. Major topics include water and food borne disease, zoonotic diseases, sexually transmitted diseases and antibiotic resistance.

General Microbiology Lectures
BioMI 2900
Instructor: T. Doerr & K. Hefferon
Fall, Spring (3-4 credits) – Letter grades only
Prerequisite: two semesters majors-level biology and two semesters college-level chemistry, or equivalent. Highly recommended corequisite: BIOMI 2911. The four-credit option adds one discussion section per week designed to promote active learning and enhance engagement with subjects covered in lecture.
Comprehensive overview of the biology of microorganisms, with emphasis on bacteria. Topics include microbial cell structure and function, physiology, metabolism, genetics, diversity, and ecology. Also covers applied aspects of microbiology such as biotechnology, the role of microorganisms in environmental processes, and medical microbiology.

Biology of Infectious Disease: From molecules to ecosystems
BIOMI 2950
Instructor: T. Hendry
Fall (3 credits) – Letter grades only
Prerequisite: two of the three core undergraduate biology courses, BIOMG 1350BIOG 1440/BIOG 1445BIOEE 1610, or the equivalent. Enrollment limited to: sophomores or higher.
A broad integration and overview of the origins, nature, and dynamics of infectious disease in humans, plants, and animals. An examination of the historical and contemporary concepts and impacts of infectious agents on hosts at multiple spatial and temporal scales and at different levels of biological organization. The ecology and evolution of pathogens, hosts, and vectors are also discussed. Consideration of newly emerging diseases in human, plant, and animal populations and the influence of human activities on global disease spread. Current and future issues and trends in disease monitoring and mitigation will also be addressed.

Biology and Management of Plant Diseases
PLPPM 3010
Instructor: K. Cox
Fall ​(4 credits)
Prerequisite: one year of biology. Co-meets with PLPPM 5010. Lab portion of the course starts the second week of classes.
Introduction to the biology of the pathogens that cause plant diseases, and the diagnosis and management of plant diseases. Topics include the biology of bacteria, fungi, oomycetes, viruses, and nematodes; disease cycles; plant disease epidemiology; and the principles and practices of plant disease management. Intended for students who want a practical knowledge of plant diseases and their control, as well as for students preparing for advanced courses in plant pathology and plant-microbe biology.

Human Microbes and Health
BioMI 3210
Instructor: A. Hay
Fall (3 credits)
Prerequisite: BIOMI 2900 or permission of instructor.
The microbes on and in our bodies are as abundant as our own cells. These diverse microorganisms provide us with metabolic capacities beyond our own and are essential to good health, but can also play a role in disease. This course will introduce the microbes of the human body, discuss their origins, adaptations to the body, molecular interactions, and associations with health and disease.

Principles of Virology
BioMS 4090 / BioMI 4090
(BioMS 6090/ BioMi 6090 option)
Instructors: J. Parker, L. Schang, D. Diel, H. Aguilar-Carreno
Fall (3 credits)
Prerequisite: BIOMI 2900 or permission of instructor. Recommended prerequisite: BIOMG 3300.
Covers principles of virology that will give a broad understanding of how viruses infect and cause disease.  Topics include the classification of viruses, virus entry, genome replication and assembly, and virus pathogenesis. Particular emphasis is placed on virus-host cell interactions and common features between different viral families. Recommended for those planning to attend medical school, graduate school or Veterinary college, or just interested in what viruses are and how they cause disease.

Essential Immunology
BioMS 4150
Instructor: B. Rhoades
Fall (3 credits) – Student option grading
Prerequisite: highly recommend basic courses in microbiology, genetics, and cell biology.
Survey of immunology, with emphasis on the cellular and molecular bases of the immune response. Recommended for those planning to attend medical, graduate, or veterinary school, those pursuing careers in health-related fields, or those interested in how the body defends itself against disease.

PLPPM 4300
Instructor: T. Pawlowska
Fall (3 credits) – Student option grading
Prerequisite: two semesters of general biology. Co-meets with PLPPM 6300. 
Fungi are one of the major lineages of eukaryotes and the sister group of animals.  We will consider evolutionary relationships among different groups of fungi, their ecology and significance to humans.  We will explore fungal lifestyles, their reproduction, and the ways that fungi use to communicate with each other and with their symbiotic partners.  In addition to true fungi, we will study several distantly related groups of organisms that share with fungi absorptive nutrition, filamentous somatic structures, and spore-based reproduction.  We will reconstruct fungal phylogenies using molecular evolution methods.  We will also isolate fungi from the environment and identify them using morphological and molecular approaches.

Biology of Disease Vectors
Entom 4520 / VtPEH 6112
Instructor: L. Harrington
Fall (3 credits)
ENTOM 4520 will co-meet with the graduate version of the course, VTPEH 6112, starting in Fall 2022. Students have the option to enroll in a supplemental 1 credit lab (ENTOM 4521, Disease Vectors Laboratory).
This course introduces vector taxonomy, evolution, biology, behavior, and the history of vector-borne disease control. Some lectures will feature “expert spotlights”: brief conversations with experts in vector control/public health who will join the class live or via recorded video link. Through a series of lectures and projects, students will gain knowledge of the latest surveillance approaches, control methods, and challenges for controlling vector-borne diseases. In this course, we intend for students to gain an understanding of arthropod biology, body plans, organ systems, behavior and physiology, infection biology and immunity. Students will demonstrate a solid understanding of disease vector evolutionary relationships. Our goal is for students to learn how to apply knowledge gained from the class in their future roles as scientists, health experts, public health practitioners, or informed citizens.

Principles of Infectious Disease for Public Health
VtPEH 6111
Instructors: G. Whittaker & MPH Staff
Fall (3 credits)
Enrollment limited to MPH students and, in rare cases, upper-level undergraduates and graduate students with permission of instructor.
Prerequisite: undergraduate biology and chemistry suggested. 
This course comprises two parts. The lecture section will cover viral, bacterial and parasitic agents important for public health, as well as infectious disease epidemiology, surveillance, and infectious disease countermeasures. The discussion section will address similar topics using cases and professional experiences to drive small-group discussion and applied learning.

Introduction to Microbiome Engineering
BME 6130
Instructor: I. Brito
Fall, every other year (3 credits)
Intended for: Masters-level, and advanced undergraduate students. 
The human microbiome impacts human health in a multitude of ways. To achieve a specific health outcome, we can modify the compositions of the microbiome, the molecules microbes produce, how they interact or how our body interacts with them. Yet, our current toolbox is fairly limited. In this course, we will examine current methods for intervening in the microbiome but focus primarily on cutting-edge technologies for microbiome-related therapeutics. This will include synthetic biology and genetic engineering approaches. Topics will include probiotics, antibiotics, drug discovery, live bacterial therapeutics, biosensors, phage therapies, bacterial evolution and engineering immune responses. We will touch on the safety implications of using different biological technologies. This course is designed for Masters-level students and advanced undergraduate students. There will be a computational component to this course, although no prior computational experience is required. Students will learn generalizable skills such as how to navigate the server, distinguish between the formats of genomics files, and employ command-line tools used in common genomic pipelines.

Current Topics in Fungal Biology
PLPPM 6490
Instructor: G. Turgeon & L. Huberman
Fall (1 credit) – S/U grades only
Prerequisite: background in molecular mycology/plant pathology recommended. 
Weekly discussion of current scientific articles on the biology of fungi. Primarily directed at graduate students and senior undergraduates; postdocs, staff, and guests who have an interest in molecular and organismal biology of fungi are welcome.

Seminar in Ecology and Evolution of Disease
Entom 6900 / BioEE 6900
Instructor: C. Murdock & M. Greischar
Fall, Spring (1 credit)
Graduate-level discussion of the ecology, epidemiology, genetics, and evolution of infectious disease in animal and plant systems. Weekly discussion of research papers published in the primary scientific literature. Participation in discussion and presentation of at least one paper required for course credit.



(links to archived course roster pages will be updated as they become available)

Locker Rooms, Kitchens and Bedrooms: The Microbiology of College Life
BIOMI 1100
Instructor: K. Hefferon
Spring (3 credits)
Microbial habitats are literally everywhere on a college campus – and college students interact with microorganisms daily. From the athlete locker room, to the kitchen, to the bathroom, to between the sheets, college students are exposed to a plethora of microorganisms that are benign, beneficial, and pathogenic. The goal of this class is for students to learn about microbiology and microbial ecology as it relates to them – in the college campus environment. Students will learn about viruses, bacteria, eukarotes and metazoans that cause common illnesses (i.e. gastroenteritis, influenza and STDs), the microbially-driven elemental cycling of alcohol production, and ecology of microorganism that spoil food. Students will take away a practical understanding of the microorganisms that they can apply to their own lives.

Microbiology of Human Contagious Diseases
BioMI 2600
Instructor: S. Winans
Spring, Summer (3 credits) – Student option grading
Prerequisite: one semester of introductory biology or equivalent
This course provides an introduction to the microbiology of microbial diseases. The primary focus is on molecular mechanisms of pathogenesis, including detection of the host environment, binding of pathogenic microbes to host cell surfaces and their invasion of host cells and tissues, and the delivery and functions of microbial toxins. It will include host defenses and microbial countermeasures against these defenses. We will also study the evolution of pathogens and the co-evolution of their hosts.

General Microbiology Lectures
BioMI 2900
Instructor: D. Buckley, K. Hefferon
Fall, Spring (3-4 credits) – Letter grades only
Prerequisite: two semesters majors-level biology and two semesters college-level chemistry, or equivalent. Highly recommended corequisite: BIOMI 2911. The four-credit option adds one discussion section per week designed to promote active learning and enhance engagement with subjects covered in lecture.
Comprehensive overview of the biology of microorganisms, with emphasis on bacteria. Topics include microbial cell structure and function, physiology, metabolism, genetics, diversity, and ecology. Also covers applied aspects of microbiology such as biotechnology, the role of microorganisms in environmental processes, and medical microbiology.

Dynamic Models in Biology
BIOEE 3620/MATH 3620
Instructor: S. Ellner
Spring (4 credits)
Prerequisite: two majors-level biology courses and completion of mathematics requirements for biological sciences major or equivalent.
Introductory survey of the development, computer implementation, and applications of dynamic models in biology and ecology. Case-study format covering a broad range of current application areas such as regulatory networks, neurobiology, cardiology, infectious disease management, and conservation of endangered species. Students also learn how to construct and study biological systems models on the computer using a scripting and graphics environment.

Bugs in Bugs: The World of Pathogens, Parasites and Symbionts
ENTOM 3630
Instructor: A. Hajek
Spring (3 credits)
This course focuses on the fascinating and diverse associations between microorganisms and invertebrates that make it possible for invertebrates to damage crops, feed on wood, and eat blood, as well as vector pathogens of animals and plants. In addition, microorganisms can act as parasites/pathogens; we protect against some of these, like microbes causing bee diseases, while others are used for environmentally safe control of pests. We will discuss insect/microbe biology, ecology and evolution across the diversity of these interactions. Some lectures will provide demonstrations so that students can view and work with microbes and parasitoids and invertebrate hosts. Lecture periods will also include some on-campus field trips.

Pathogenic Bacteriology
BioMS 4040 / BioMI 4040
Instructor: D. Debbie
Spring (2-3 credits)
Prerequisite: BIOMI 2900 or permission of instructor.
Course in medical microbiology, presenting the major groups of bacterial pathogens important to human and veterinary medicine. Emphasizes infection and disease pathogenesis. Topics include disease causality; interactions of host, pathogen, and environment, including immunity to bacteria; and principles of antimicrobial therapy and drug resistance. Recommended for those planning to attend medical school, graduate school, or veterinary medical school, or those just interested in how bacteria cause disease.  A companion seminar addresses the current and classic literature related to the pathophysiology of medically important bacterial pathogens on the cellular and molecular levels.

Diet and the Microbiome
NS 4200
Instructor: A. Poole
Spring (3 credits)
Prerequisite: one semester introductory biology lecture (BIOMG 1350BIOG 1440, or equivalent) and one semester introductory chemistry (CHEM 1560CHEM 2070CHEM 2090, or equivalent). Recommended: microbiology (BIOMI 2900 or equivalent) and introductory statistics (STSCI 2150PAM 2100AEM 2100, or equivalent). Enrollment limited to: senior, junior, and graduate students.
In this course, students will acquire a present-day overview of the reported effects of diet on the microbiome with an emphasis on host physiology outcomes. The microbiome field is rapidly evolving, and this course has no textbook; we will mainly be assessing primary literature and scientific reviews. Students will learn to critically analyze the conclusions drawn from microbiome studies to empower them to make informed judgements as new research findings are reported.

DNA Targeting: Applications, Reagents, and Impact
PLPPM 4250
Instructor: A. J. Bognadove
Spring (3 credits)
Prerequisite: BIOMG 3300BIOMG 3310 with BIOMG 3320BIOMG 3330 or BIOMG 3350; also BIOMG 2801. Recommended prerequisite: BIOMG 2800BIOMG 4000BIOMG 4860. Co-meets with PLPPM 6250.
Recent advances in our capacity to direct molecules to specific DNA sequences in vitro and in living cells give us an unprecedented ability to probe and modify the genetic material. Through primary literature, this course considers applications of DNA targeting, ranging from systems biology to genome editing; reagents, including zinc finger proteins, TAL effectors, the CRISPR/Cas9 complex and others; and impact, reaching basic science, agriculture, and medicine. Regulatory, ethical, intellectual property, and public perception considerations are also discussed.

Cellular and Molecular Microbial Pathogenesis: The Host Pathogen Interplay
BioMS 4340
Instructor: D. Debbie, D. Russell, G. Whittaker
Spring, odd years (3 credits)
Recommended prerequisite: BIOMS 4040/BIOMI 4040 or BIOMS 4090/BIOMI 4090 or BIOMS 4310/BIOMI 4310 or BIOMS 4150 or permission of instructor. Offered alternate years.
This course will integrate the immune response of the host to challenges from medically important pathogens, including viruses, parasites and bacteria, to provide a unified view of microbial pathogenesis. The lectures will integrate concepts from the disciplines of immunology, bacteriology, virology, and parasitology, to cover aspects of host cell biology and the innate and acquired immune responses of the host to infection. A range of medically relevant human and animal pathogens will be detailed, focusing on the host’s response to commensalism versus disease, the mechanisms of host invasion, nutrient acquisition, and modulation of the host’s immune response. The course will also discuss current disease interventions and the challenges facing antimicrobial therapy and vaccine development. This integrated and comparative view of the cellular and molecular interaction between infectious agents and the host’s immune response will be a capstone of the student’s exposure to infection biology.

Plant Behavior and Biotic Interactions, Lecture
BioEE 4460 / BioNB 4460 / PlSci 4460
Instructors: R. Raguso and A. Kessler​
Spring (3 credits)
​​​How do plants respond to antagonists, such as herbivores and pathogens? What are the checks and balances that keep mutualist organisms in their tight interactions? How are symbioses organized on molecular, metabolic and ecological levels? What are the molecular, plant hormonal, and metabolic mechanisms mediating plant biotic interactions with other organisms? What ecological and evolutionary consequences do these interactions have for the fitness of the plants and their interactors? This course provides an overview of plants’ myriad interactions with antagonists and mutualists, from microbes to multicellular organisms, and explains the underlying ecological and evolutionary concepts. It gives an introduction to the study of induced plant responses in the light of a behavioral biology framework.

Ecology & Evolution of Infectious Diseases
ENTOM/BioEE 4940
Instructor: M. Greischar, C. Murdock
Spring (4 credits)
This course introduces students to the field of infectious disease ecology, an area of study that has developed rapidly over the past three decades and addresses some of the most significant challenges to human health and conservation. Students will learn about the incredible diversity of parasitic organisms, arguably the most abundant life forms on the planet, and examine how pathogens invade and spread through host populations. Throughout the course, an emphasis will be placed on understanding of infectious diseases dynamics at the population level, and on quantitative approaches for studying pathogen spread and impacts. Specific topics include types of pathogens and their ecological properties, epidemiology and impacts on host populations, types of transmission, evolution of resistance and virulence, drivers of the emergence of new diseases, parasites in the context of ecological communities, strategies for controlling outbreaks, and the role of parasites in biodiversity and conservation.

Special Topics in Plant Science
PlSci 4940
Instructor: Staff
Fall, Spring (1-4 credits, variable (may be repeated for credit))
The School of Integrative Plant Science teaches “trial” courses under this number. Offerings may vary by semester and will be advertised before the semester begins. Courses offered under the number will be approved by the Plant Sciences curriculum committee, and the same course is not offered more than twice under this number.

Molecular Biology of Plant-Microbe Interactions
PLPPM 6010
Instructor: C. Casteel
Spring ​(3 credits)
Prerequisite: introductory genetics (BIOMG 2800BIOMG 2801 or PLBRG 2250) or biochemistry (BIOMG 3300 or BIOMG 3310, and BIOMG 3320 or equivalent) or PLPPM 3010.
The co-evolutionary molecular battle between microbial pathogens and plants has game-like properties whose rules are emerging from recent genomic, biochemical, and cell biological advances. This course explores the molecular pieces and collective behaviors of pathogen virulence and plant immune systems, similarities between interaction mechanisms in plant and animal pathosystems, and the application of this knowledge to sustainable agriculture. The course emphasizes the development of professional skills, such as the management of scientific literature, creative design and critical evaluation of research, communication of complex scientific concepts to diverse audiences, and discussion of environmental issues associated with transgene-based disease management strategies. Students write and peer review research proposals.

Filamentous Fungal Genetics and Genomics
PLPPM 6380
Instructor: L. Huberman, K. Bushley, G. Turgeon
Spring (3 credits) – next offered spring 2024
Prerequisite: BIOMG 2800 or PLBRG 2250.
Fungi play a vital role in our ecosystem and are responsible for devastating crop infestations that threaten global food supplies and diseases that result in the death of hundreds of thousands of individuals each year. This course explores fungal biology through the lens of molecular genetics and genomics, including epigenetics, genome defense mechanisms, metabolism, and signaling pathways. We will cover the use of genetic tools in fungi ranging from classical genetics to CRISPR to high-throughput sequencing. This course will also teach skills necessary to analyze genetic and genomic data using Python and publicly available sequencing analysis software. No prior coding experience is necessary. The course will emphasize the development of professional skills, such as critically reading and reviewing scientific literature, experimental design, scientific communication, and data analysis. Students will write and peer review manuscripts based on the analysis of transcriptional profiling of fungi. Classes will include lectures, student-led discussion of the primary literature, presentations, and computer labs. A laptop is necessary for this course.

Seminar in Ecology and Evolution of Disease
Entom 6900 / BioEE 6900
Instructors: C. Murdock, M. Greischar
Fall, Spring (1 credit)
Graduate-level discussion of the ecology, epidemiology, genetics, and evolution of infectious disease in animal and plant systems. Weekly discussion of research papers published in the primary scientific literature. Participation in discussion and presentation of at least one paper required for course credit.

Advanced Immunology
BioMS 7050 / VetMI 7050
Instructor: C. Leifer
Spring (3 credits) – next offered spring 2024
Prerequisite: BIOMS 4150, basic immunology course or permission of instructor. 
This course covers selected topics in immunology at an advanced and in-depth level through lectures, papers, and case-based discussions.