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Germs, Genes, Patients, and Populations

Course Status

East Baltimore
3rd Term
Berman Institute (Bioethics)
Academic Year
2024 - 2025
Instruction Method
Auditors Allowed
Yes, with instructor consent
Available to Undergraduate
Grading Restriction
Letter Grade or Pass/Fail
Course Instructor(s)
Contact Name
Frequency Schedule
Every Other Year

Students who are not in a Bioethics certificate or degree program require permission of the instructor.

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 tensions between 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. Due to the social nature of contagion, infectious disease challenges individualistic assumptions in bioethical models with public health dilemmas requiring attention to the relationships and interactions between hosts, vectors, pathogens, and environments. Focuses on the potential ethical, legal, and social implications of emerging genomic science and technology for infectious disease control. Each class focuses on a specific type of infectious disease highlighting different notions of disease causation and mode of transmission. Explores in three related contexts: research, clinical practice and public health. Addresses the 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. Examine the evolution of ethical, legal, social, historical, and policy issues at the intersection of genomics and infectious disease
  2. Evaluate how concepts of disease causation and mode of transmission, as well as emerging and future genomic science and technology, may influence how we think about infectious disease management in the research, public health and clinical contexts.
  3. Discuss and form persuasive arguments about how the ethical, legal, and social implications of emerging genomic technologies in infectious disease should be addressed
Methods of Assessment
This course is evaluated as follows:
  • 20% Participation
  • 35% Discussion Board
  • 20% Group Presentation
  • 25% Final Paper
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.