Virology Course 2021

Spring 2021

The complete 2020 (last year) virology course materials are available at

viral video

This Columbia University virology course is offered each year in the spring semester.


The recommended textbook is Principles of Virology. Vol I: Molecular Biology, Vol. II: Pathogenesis and Control (S.J. Flint et al., Fifth Edition, ASM Press 2020).

Other course resources

  1. Students should read Prof. Racaniello’s virology blog for information relevant to the course.
  2. Students should listen to the weekly podcast “This Week in Virology”, produced by Prof. Racaniello, for additional material about viruses relevant to the course.
  3. Lecture slides (pdf) will be posted at this website before each class.
  4. Videocasts of all lectures (slides plus audio) will be posted at this website.

Lecture Schedule, Spring 2021

DateTopicReadingSlidesStudy QuestionsVideo
1/11Lecture 1: What is a virus?Flint Vol I Chp 1
€¢The evolving concept of virus
€¢Cell size and scale
1/13Lecture 2: The infectious cycleFlint Vol I Chp 2
€¢Counting Viruses
€¢Viral RNA is not infectious virus
€¢I tested positive
€¢My antibody result
1/20Lecture 3: Genomes and geneticsFlint Vol I Chp 3
€¢The Baltimore scheme
1/25Lecture 4: StructureFlint Vol I Chp 4
€¢Buckyball Viruses (YouTube)
€¢Virus images at ViperDB
1/27Lecture 5: Attachment and entryFlint Vol I Chp 5
€¢A portal for RNA exit
€¢A human rhinovirus in chimpanzees
2/1Lecture 6: RNA directed RNA synthesisFlint Vol I Chp 6
€¢Influenza viral RNA synthesis
2/3Lecture 7: Transcription and RNA processingFlint Vol I Chp 8 through p277 Chp 10 through p364pdfWordYouTube
2/8Lecture 8: Viral DNA replicationFlint Vol I Chp 9
€¢No primer needed
2/10Lecture 9: Reverse transcription and integrationFlint Vol I Chp 7
€¢Museum pelts help date the Koala retrovirus
€¢Aretrovirus makes chicken eggshells blue
€¢Reverse transcription animation
€¢Retroviral influence on human embryonic development
2/15Lecture 10: AssemblyFlint Vol I Chapters 12 and 13
€¢Packaging of the segmented influenza virus genome
€¢What if influenza virus did not reassort?
2/17Lecture 11: The infected cellFlint Vol I Chp 14
€¢Metabolic manipulations in virus-infected cells
€¢Rhinoviruses have a sweet tooth
2/22Lecture 12: Infection basicsFlint Vol II Chapters 1 and 2
€¢Transmission of influenza
€¢Slow motion sneezing
Chikungunya an exotic virus on the move
€¢How mosquitoes spread viruses
2/24Lecture 13: Intrinsic and innate defensesFlint Vol II Chapter 3
€¢The inflammatory response
€¢Natural antibody protects against viral infection
3/1Spring recess
3/3Spring recess
3/8Lecture 14: Adaptive immunityFlint Vol II Chapter 4
My at-home SARS-CoV-2 antibody test result
3/10Lecture 15: Mechanisms of pathogenesisFlint Vol II Chapter 5pdfWordYouTube
3/15Lecture 16: Acute infectionsFlint Vol II Chapter 5
€¢Acute viral infections
€¢Chronology of an acute infection
3/17Lecture 17: Persistent infectionsFlint Vol II Chapter 5pdfWordYouTube
3/22Lecture 18: Transformation and oncogenesisFlint Vol II Chapter 6pdfWordYouTube
3/24Lecture 19: VaccinesFlint Vol II Chapter 8
€¢Influenza virus-like particle vaccine
€¢Poliovirus vaccine safety
3/29Lecture 20: AntiviralsFlint Vol II Chapter 9
€¢A new drug for influenza
3/31Lecture 21: EvolutionFlint Vol II Chapter 10
€¢Virulence €“ a positive or negative trait for evolution?
€¢Increased fidelity reduces viral fitness
€¢Why do viruses cause disease?
SARS-CoV-2 variants of concern
4/5Lecture 22: Emerging virusesFlint Vol II Chapter 11
€¢MERS-coronavirus in camels
€¢Nipah virus at 20
4/12Lecture 23: HIV and AIDSFlint Vol II Chapter 6
€¢The London Patient
€¢Interview with Beatrice Hahn
4/14Lecture 24: Unusual infectious agentsFlint Vol II Chapter 12
€¢Is chronic wasting disease a threat to humans?
€¢Prion contamination in the emergency room
5/4Lecture 25: Therapeutic virusesFlint Vol I Chapter 3
€¢TWiV 350: Viral gene therapy with Katherine High
€¢Virus Watch: Cancer killing viruses

Scroll to Top