Fall 2020 - HSCI 478 D100

Seminar in Molecular Epidemiology of Infectious Diseases (3)

Class Number: 6326

Delivery Method: Remote


  • Course Times + Location:

    Th 11:30 AM – 2:20 PM

  • Exam Times + Location:

    Dec 18, 2020
    3:30 PM – 6:30 PM

  • Prerequisites:

    HSCI 330 and MBB 331 as pre- or co-requisites.



Application of modern molecular methods to epidemiological questions. Globally-relevant and emerging infectious diseases will be highlighted. Students with credit for HSCI 432 in 2010 may not complete HSCI 478 for further credit


This senior seminar course will provide a broad overview of the application of molecular methods to infectious disease epidemiology. Topics will include the identification, monitoring, distribution and evolution of pathogens in human populations, the identification of genetic risk factors for disease acquisition and/or progression, and the application of molecular methods to screening, prevention and treatment of infectious diseases.  

The course will begin by introducing "traditional" and "modern" molecular techniques including PCR, DNA sequencing and phylogenetic analysis. The course will then focus on the application of these techniques to infectious disease epidemiology. Pathogens will be discussed based on relatedness and/or route of infection for example, blood-borne or vector-borne. As well, students will gain a basic understanding of how host and pathogen genetic variation is distributed globally and how such variation influences disease acquisition risk and disease outcomes.


By the end of the course students will have a strong foundational knowledge of molecular epidemiology methods, the distribution of host and pathogen genetic diversity in populations, and an understanding of how genetic factors influence disease risk and outcomes. The assignments for this course will provide students the opportunity to develop, or hone, their remote presentation skills, their ability to perform primary literature searches, as well as improve their reading, interpreting, critiquing and summarizing of primary research articles.


  • Scientific Poster with Written Summary 20%
  • Oral Presentation with Written Summary 25%
  • COVID-19 Update (Oral and Written Component) 10%
  • Midterm Exam 20%
  • Final Exam 25%


The professor may make changes to the syllabus if necessary, within Faculty / University regulations.

This course is being offered remotely this term, as such, the weekly scheduled three hour lectures will be held via Zoom.


As this course is being offered remotely this term, you will be required to have the necessary technology in order to attend and participate in lectures (i.e., computer/device, internet connection, Zoom). Assignments for this course will require Microsoft Office, namely Word and Powerpoint, or similar.



There is no textbook for this course.  Instead, required readings will be in the form of primary and review articles in scientific journals; these articles will be uploaded to Canvas.

Registrar Notes:


SFU’s Academic Integrity web site http://www.sfu.ca/students/academicintegrity.html is filled with information on what is meant by academic dishonesty, where you can find resources to help with your studies and the consequences of cheating.  Check out the site for more information and videos that help explain the issues in plain English.

Each student is responsible for his or her conduct as it affects the University community.  Academic dishonesty, in whatever form, is ultimately destructive of the values of the University. Furthermore, it is unfair and discouraging to the majority of students who pursue their studies honestly. Scholarly integrity is required of all members of the University. http://www.sfu.ca/policies/gazette/student/s10-01.html


Teaching at SFU in fall 2020 will be conducted primarily through remote methods. There will be in-person course components in a few exceptional cases where this is fundamental to the educational goals of the course. Such course components will be clearly identified at registration, as will course components that will be “live” (synchronous) vs. at your own pace (asynchronous). Enrollment acknowledges that remote study may entail different modes of learning, interaction with your instructor, and ways of getting feedback on your work than may be the case for in-person classes. To ensure you can access all course materials, we recommend you have access to a computer with a microphone and camera, and the internet. In some cases your instructor may use Zoom or other means requiring a camera and microphone to invigilate exams. If proctoring software will be used, this will be confirmed in the first week of class.

Students with hidden or visible disabilities who believe they may need class or exam accommodations, including in the current context of remote learning, are encouraged to register with the SFU Centre for Accessible Learning (caladmin@sfu.ca or 778-782-3112).