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Infectious Disease Biology Minor

Description of the Minor

Infectious diseases represent an increasing threat to public health, agricultural productivity, and global biodiversity. Recent years have seen an unprecedented rise in the incidence and severity of infectious diseases in human, plant, and animal populations across nearly all of the world’s ecosystems. This intensification of diseases around the world is linked to human activity, which has brought about habitat transformation, climate change, biological invasions, environmental contamination, and ensuing losses of biodiversity.

Global disease dynamics have long-lasting economic, social, and global health impacts. It is more important than ever for students pursuing careers in biomedical, veterinary, medical, public health, natural resources and agricultural fields to appreciate the biology of the host-microbe and environmental interactions that give rise to disease. Famous examples include bubonic plague, epidemics of influenza, the Irish potato famine, and more recently, amphibian declines, white nose disease of bats, forest declines, Ebola, SARS, MERS, and West Nile Virus in birds and humans, and the chronic challenge of food-borne illnesses.

The Infectious Disease Biology Minor provides students with a broad perspective on health and disease, the dynamic nature of host-associated microbes, an in-depth understanding of the origins and dynamics of infectious diseases, and contemporary thought about the nature of health, disease, and disease management.

To satisfy the requirements of the Infectious Disease Biology Minor, students must successfully complete one foundation course listed below (3 credits) plus a minimum of 12 additional credits at the 2000-level and higher, with at least one course selected from each of the lists (A, B, and C) below, for a minimum requirement of 15 credits. Credit for courses other than those listed below require the approval of the minor advisor. Special topic courses, independent study, seminar courses, and courses without regular instruction cannot be counted toward the credit requirement without prior written approval of one of the program advisors.

All courses must be taken for a letter grade and students must receive a grade of “C” or better for the course to count toward the minor. Any undergraduate student at Cornell may enroll in the minor. However, this minor may especially complement academic programs of students majoring in Animal Sciences, Biological Sciences, Biology & Society, Environmental Science and Sustainability, Human Biology, Health and Society, Natural Resources, or Plant Sciences.

Foundation and Elective Courses

All students in the Infectious Disease Biology minor will be required to take the following foundation course.

Required Foundation Course (3 cr)

PLPPM 2950 Biology of Infectious Disease: From Molecules to Ecosystems 3 cr Fall                                            

In addition, students are required to take a minimum of 12 additional credits with at least one course selected from each of three groups below.

Elective Courses (12 cr)

Group A: Infectious Agents
PLPPM 4020 Biology of Plant Pathogens 3 cr Spring
PLPPM 4490 Advanced Mycology 3 cr Fall
PLPPM/BioMI/BioMS 4090 Principles of Virology 3 cr Fall
BioMi/BioMS 4040 Pathogenic Bacteriology 2-3 cr Spring
PLPPM 4380 Fungal Genetics and Genomics 3 cr Spring
PLPPM 3290/BioMS 3290 Medical and Veterinary Mycology 3 cr Spring
BioMi/BioMS 3310 General Parasitology (no credit if previously enrolled in BioMs 4310) 2 cr Fall
BioMi/BioMS 4310 Medical Parasitology (no credit if previously enrolled in BioMs 3310) 2 cr Fall
Group B: Host-Pathogen Interactions
PLPPM 4330 Infectious Disease Ecology and Evolution 3 cr Spring (offered alternate years; next offered Spring 2018)
PLPPM 4480/BioMI 4480 Symbioses: Evolution & Ecology 3 cr Spring
PLPPM 4010 Microbial Pathogens vs Plants: Molecular Weapons, Defenses, and Rules of Engagement 3 cr Spring
BioMS 3150 Basic Immunology (no credit if previously or concurrently enrolled in AnSc 3700) 3 cr Fall
ANSC 3700 Immunology in Animal Health and Disease (no credit if previously enrolled in BioMs 3150) 3 cr Spring
BioMS 4340 Cellular and Molecular Microbial Pathogenesis: The Host/Pathogen Interplay 3 cr Spring (offered alternate years)
BioMi 2600 Microbiology of Human Contagious Diseases 3 cr Spring
Group C: Disease and Health Management
PLPPM 3010 Biology and Management of Plant Diseases 4 cr Fall
BioMi 3210 Human Microbes and Health 3 cr Spring
BioMi 2500 Public Health Microbiology 3 cr Fall
Entom 2100/ BSoc 2101 Plagues and People 2-3 cr Fall (offered alternate years)
NS 2600 Introduction to Global Health 3 cr Spring

Learning Outcomes

After completing the requirements of this concentration, student will be able to:

  1. Describe and predict the impacts of infectious diseases on human, plant, animal, and global health
  2. Describe the basic form, function, behavior, and diversity of infectious agents and their vectors
  3. Assess the similarities and differences among human, animal, and plant diseases
  4. Understand how hosts defend themselves against infectious agents
  5. Apply the fundamental principles underlying disease dynamics at multiple spatial and temporal scales to predict how new diseases emerge.
  6. Critically evaluate surveillance and management strategies for the prevention of infectious diseases.
  7. Apply sound reasoning skills to identify the etiologies and regulators of disease processes
  8. Speak the language of disease biology and communicate disease biology principles to others

Information for Transfer Students

Transfer students are encouraged to apply for a minor in Infectious Disease Biology. An initial meeting with the minor advisor will help determine if a student is able to take the necessary credits or has equivalencies that can be applied to satisfy the program requirements.

How to receive credit for the Minor Program of Study in Infectious Disease Biology

  1. Submit a copy of the application for admission form to Michael Milgroom. Retain a copy for your records and give your major advisor a copy for your file.
  2. Complete the courses required for the infectious disease biology minor.
  3. In the final semester prior to graduation, bring a copy of your transcript and your “Application to Graduate” Michael Milgroom. Upon verification of the successful completion of all requirements, he will sign the form required for the minor.