Biology 121:

Infectious Diseases and Immunity

Autumn 2000

Phillip E. Funk, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Biology

Lecture: T, TH 8:30-10:00

Course Summary

Course Schedule

Helpful Links


Course Objectives:

  1. To introduce students to basic concepts in biology and understand how advances in biology and medicine are changing our relationship with pathogenic organisms.
  2. To introduce students to the structures and functions of microorganisms and the immune system.
  3. To help students develop quantitative and qualitative reasoning skills and to THINK CRITICALLY and OBJECTIVELY.

Course Format: Lecture/Discussion/Laboratory

Principal Topics Covered:

Approximate %

1. Basic Biology


2. Lives of Microorganisms


3. Infectious Diseases and Antibiotics


4. The Immune System


Course Evaluation:

  1. Three written examinations
  2. Analysis and solving of topic-related problem sets
  3. Library research paper

Exam I


Exam II


Exam III


Research Paper


Problem Sets


Required Textbook:

Life of Earth (2nd Edition), by Audeskirk, Audeskirk, and Byers. This is an excellent introductory biology text. You my purchase this book at the campus bookstore or at, B-code B-2BPRX7. You may NOT borrow my copy of the textbook. This book also includes a companion web site with supplementary materials and quizzes so that you can test yourself. A link is available on the course website. (

Additional materials may be handed out in class or placed on reserve in the library. The class website will also have links to material on the World Wide Web that will be helpful in your studies.


Exams will be a combination of multiple choice, short answer, matching, and fill in the blank type questions. Exams will be held at the times indicated, any exceptions to this must be arranged with me well ahead of time. There will be no make up examinations without adequate reason for why the exam was missed in the first place. This is entirely at the instructor's discretion.

Since I post my lecture notes to the web I feel free to require a good deal of specificity in the answers I expect on the exams. You will be tested on your ability to unite concepts presented in different lectures and to think analytically about the information presented in class.

Problem sets will be given out in the lectures indicated on the syllabus; they are due at the next lecture.

The Research Paper

The research paper represents an opportunity for you to learn in detail about one particular organism or infectious disease of your own choosing. Find an article in the popular press (newspaper or magazine) within the past year dealing with an infectious disease. Possible sources for this article include The Chicago Tribune, The New York Times, Time, Discover Magazine, and Scientific American. Remember that this is a course dealing with infectious diseases so be sure that your topic involves an infectious disease, not just any disease. You must bring me a copy of your original source paper and topic for approval before Sept. 26. For the topic you have selected, learn about the pathogen involved: what type of organism is it, how does it infect, what is its normal life cycle, what are the consequences of infection, what is the normal course of treatment? Bear in mind that the organism you're researching must be infectious but doesn't have to infect humans. Your research sources may include; the library, our course textbook, the World Wide Web, and people (e.g. your family doctor). Be certain that your sources are reputable and verifiable, particularly those found on the web! If you have questions or difficulty in selecting an article to get started, please bring a couple candidate articles to me for approval or suggestions.

Your paper should not exceed 1000 words in length but must contain a substantive and thorough discussion and analysis of the topic organism. The paper should be suitable for reading by a general audience, as if you in turn were writing a magazine article on this subject. This also means that your classmates and family could be helpful in proofing drafts of this report. The paper must include a bibliography with at least 10 items used to research the topic. At least 4 of these references must be printed material; you will have to go to the library. I will not specify the format to be used in citing the references but they should be detailed enough for me to find the reference and verify it. Points will be deducted if I cannot verify the references or if the above guidelines are not met. You cannot turn in handwritten papers. Computer printed or typed copies are acceptable. Feel free to include diagrams or tables if these help explain your subject matter, but be sure to cite where you obtained the figures. I am not an English professor BUT points will be deducted for spelling and grammatical errors. Papers will be graded based on clarity, thoroughness, and understanding of the subject matter. You may wish to use DePaul's writing center as you prepare your paper. Click here to view online copies of papers from a previous offering of the course. Disclaimer: These papers were scanned and so may contain errors not present in the original copy.

Papers are due in class on October 31! NO EXCEPTIONS, NO EXCUSES! Points will be deducted for papers turned in late. I will not accept papers after Nov 2. I will not accept papers via FAX or email.

Statement of Academic Honesty:

It is expected that your work in this course will be original, not copies of another student's work. The university dictates strong sanctions against those who copy another's work without citing the original source. This may also apply to students who allow others to copy their work. This sanction may be as severe as an F in the course. Please refer to the student handbook for a more detailed discussion of the university's rules on this matter


You should be on time for lecture. You should behave as you would like an audience to behave if you were speaking. No talking, note passing, horseplay, etc. All cell phones and beepers should be turned off. Your success in this course depends primarily on you!

Tips for success in this course:

  1. All my lecture notes will be available via the class web site. I cannot guarantee that these notes will be posted before the lecture is given. Do not use these notes as a substitute for attending class! There is no substitute for attending class, paying attention, and taking good notes. The successful students in my other classes can tell you that the notes on the web are an excellent addition to the lectures but that you will not do well if you rely solely on the website.
  2. Read the book! The text has a number of self-testing tools that I highly recommend you use in your studies. The text's companion web site has additional review tools. These will help you prepare for the exams.
  3. Don't think of each lecture as a single, self-contained entity. Biology is a field of study and its components are interrelated. Part of my teaching philosophy is to get you to understand some of the interrelationships. This will help you to reason from what you do know to what you don't know.
  4. Don't be afraid to ask questions. I welcome student's questions before, during, and after lectures.


You may contact me by email at

My office is 243 McGowan Hall on the Lincoln Park Campus, phone 325-4649.

I will also be available before and after lecture to answer specific questions. If necessary I will establish office hours. I will do my utmost to answer questions in a timely fashion. I sincerely want this course to be a rewarding educational experience for you.

Tentative Course Schedule:



Reading Assignment

Sept. 7

Introduction: Course Overview, Properties of Life

Chapter 1


The Chemical Basis of Life; Sugars, Lipids, and Proteins

Chapter 2 and 3


Cell Structure and Function, Prokaryotes versus Eukaryotes

Chapters 4 and 5


Patterns of Inheritance, Problem Set #1

Chapter 11


DNA, Structure and Replication

Chapter 8


The Alphabet of Life, From DNA to Trait

Chapter 9, Deadline to have paper topic approved


Exam I


Oct. 3

Underlying Concepts of Infectious Disease



Infectious Agents: Bacteria

Audeskirk, Pages 300-308


Infectious Agents: Viruses



Infectious Agents: Eukaryotic Parasites, Problem Set #2



The Infectious Disease Process



Virulence Covered on Oct. 26



Exam II




Chapter 22


Immunology Introduction, Innate Immunity

Research Paper Due

Nov. 2

Adaptive Immunity The Immune System in Action, Problem Set #3

 Chapter 22


Defects in the Immune System

 Chapter 22


Vaccination, Antibiotics



Diseases New and Old


Final Exam Monday, November 20, 2000, 8:45-11:00 a.m.


Helpful Links

Life on Earth - The companion website to our course textbook. This is an excellent resource with links to supplementary material and very helpful review questions. A lazy professor might consider using some of the questions on this site for exams.

DePaul Writing Center

Environmental Protection Agency- Microbiology site

The Biology Project

The Online Medical Dictionary

On-Line Biology Book- An excellent resource for fundamental biology. Includes a glossary of biological terms.

Internet Resources for Biology

Cells Alive!! - A must see, outstanding photos and drawings of cells in action and immune mechanisms that we will discuss in class!

The Outbreak Page -tracks outbreaks of infectious diseases worldwide. Also includes information on infectious disease agents. An excellent resource for your research papers.

MicrobeWorld - information on our microbial friends and enemies from the American Society for Microbiology

The Bad Bug Page - From the Food and Drug Administration

Mayohealth - A compendium of health-related information

Virtual Library of Biosciences

Microbe Library

Bugs in the News

Bugs on the Web