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Course Catalog

700.641.01 Germs, Genes, Patients, and Populations


Berman Institute (Bioethics)
4th term
3 credits
Academic Year:
2017 - 2018
East Baltimore
Class Times:
  • Wednesday,  3:30 - 6:20pm
Auditors Allowed:
Yes, with instructor consent
Grading Restriction:
Letter Grade or Pass/Fail
Angie Boyce
Course Instructors:
Frequency Schedule:
Every Other Year

What are the ethical, legal, social, and policy issues at the intersection of infectious disease and genomics? How are individualistic conceptions of autonomy, privacy and liberty being challenged in an “omic” era of microbial multiplicity? Can precision medicine and population health be reconciled?

Explores past, present, and future ethical, legal, social and policy issues at the intersection of infectious disease and genomics. Challenges individualistic assumptions in bioethical models with frameworks that consider the interactions between hosts, vectors, pathogens, and environments. Examines a variety of diseases and modes of transmission, exploring their morally relevant differences and similarities. Discusses cutting-edge topics such as personalized vaccines, host genomic factors, and the microbiome, as well as enduring bioethical concerns about social responsibility, stigma, and the challenge of balancing individual interests and protections against risks of harms to others and to public health.

Learning Objectives:

Upon successfully completing this course, students will be able to:

  1. Assess historical approaches to managing infectious disease surveillance, prevention, and outbreaks in light of genomic advances
  2. Identify ethical, legal, social, and policy issues at the intersection of genomics and infectious disease
  3. Analyze the benefits and shortcomings of various policy approaches to infectious disease management in light of ethics and genomics considerations
  4. Evaluate how genomic information and its uses could inform infectious disease management in the future
Methods of Assessment:

Participation: 20%, Weekly Responses: 40%, Final Project/Paper: 40%

Enrollment Restriction:

Enrollment priority given to MBE students. Students who have taken 700.624 BIOETHICS AND INFECTIOUS DISEASES: ETHICAL, LEGAL, AND HUMAN RIGHTS ISSUES, may not take this course for credit.

Instructor Consent:

Consent required for some students

Consent Note:

Consent required for undergraduate students

For consent, contact:

Special Comments:

Course meets in Deering Hall; LLC Room