Epidemiology Courses Taught by Alex Rickard

EPID504: Polymicrobial Communities Laboratory

  • Graduate level
  • Fall term(s)
  • 3 Credit Hour(s)
  • Instructor(s): Rickard, Alex
  • Last offered Fall 2017
  • Prerequisites: Permission of the Instructor
  • Description: This laboratory course provides an opportunity for students to become familiar with approaches and techniques to studying microbial diversity. Techniques to describe microbial diversity at the structural, behavioral, and ecosystem level will be addressed. Emphasis will be placed on approaches to understand diversity within the human microbiome and environmental systems as well as the interactions between them.
  • Course Goals: The course has three main goals: (1) Familiarize students with techniques to study the microbial diversity of the human body as well as the diversity of specific environmental systems that interact with the human body. These include drinking water biofilms and microorganisms in food. Research techniques that will be studied include culturing and sampling techniques, genetic approaches (e.g. cloning, 16S rRNA gene sequencing), microscopy and imaging as well as use of model systems such as Robbins devices and flow cells. (2) Introduce the concept of functional microbiomics, and describe and perform laboratory techniques to investigate microbial diversity. Approaches to discover and interrogate cell-cell interactions between microorganisms will be introduced. (3) Support students in the development of a model system or project in order to perform a discovery-based or hypothesis-based study of the microbial composition of an polymicrobial environmental sample.
  • Competencies: 2.A. Biological Variability Knowledge 1. The nature and complexity of inter-individual variability (biological, biochemical, and physiological) as it affects the study of a disease process. 2. D. Human Physiology and Pathology Knowledge 1. The biochemical and cellular basis for normal and pathological functioning 2. Interaction among anatomical systems and organs in health and disease. 3. The most important chronic, infectious, and degenerative diseases of humans in terms of the public's health 4. Pathobiology of major diseases integrated with the principles of epidemiology. 5. The impact of host characteristics (e.g., immune response, nutrition, presence of other diseases or infections) on disease outcomes
  • Learning Objectives: Three learning objectives include: (1) Learn and perform laboratory techniques to describe microbial diversity as well approaches to analyze the results of experiments. (2) Realize the impact microbes on the environment as well as on the human microbiome and understand how these communities may interact with one-another. (3) Participate in a scientifically-based class debates and contribute towards the formulation of laboratory experiments.
  • This course is cross-listed with Pilot course so not yet cross-listed but upper-level undergraduate students and graduate students from other departments will be considered. in the Pilot course so not yet cross-listed but upper-level undergraduate students and graduate students from other departments will be considered. department.

EPID505: Polymicrobial Communities in Human Health and Disease

  • Graduate level
  • Fall term(s)
  • 3 Credit Hour(s)
  • Instructor(s): Rickard, Alex
  • Last offered Fall 2014
  • Undergraduates are allowed to enroll in this course.
  • Description: Regions of focus for the study of the human microbiome (image taken from http://nihroadmap.nih.gov/hmp/ ) This course provides an opportunity for students to become familiar with the concept that humans contain more than just an organized assemblage of mammalian cells. In addition to our human cells, there are numerous microbial inhabitants- many are bacteria. Indeed, on a per-cell basis, these bacteria outnumber human cells by at least an order of magnitude. How resident bacteria interact with one another and with transient (often pathogenic) bacterial species is important to understand because these interactions can promote health or potentially aid the transition towards disease. One such example of these interactive polymicrobial communities can be found in dental plaque, where 400 species of bacteria can cohabitate, and their physical and chemical interactions play a role in the colonization of pathogenic species. In this case, disease can be manifested as periodontitis. Other examples of microbial communities of the body that will be studied in this course include skin/wounds, the upper-respiratory tract, the gut and the urogenital tract. Overall, this course will describe the microbial ecology of the human body and driving forces promoting the transition from those communities associated with health to disease-causing communities. Special emphasis will be given to cutting-edge laboratory techniques when exploring the microbial ecology of the human body. This course will culminate with a broad overview of the current understanding of the human microbiome and potential associated social ramifications of future research.
  • Course Goals: The course has three main goals: (1) Familiarize students with the microbial ecology of the human body and highlight the recent National Institutes of Health strategic initiative that focused on the human microbiome (http://nihroadmap.nih.gov/hmp/). Special focus will be given to particular regions of the human body, including the oral cavity, respiratory tract, gut, urogenital tract and skin. (2) Introduce the concept of functional microbiomics and describe laboratory techniques to investigate the microbial diversity of regions of the body. Furthermore, approaches to discover and interrogate cell-cell interactions between resident and pathogenic species will be introduced. Research techniques that will be studied include classic genetic approaches (e.g. 16S rRNA gene sequencing), more complex genetic techniques (e.g. denaturing gradient gel electrophoresis and metagenomic sequencing) and approaches to image in-vivo and in-vitro multi-species communities (e.g. electron microscopy and confocal laser scanning microscopy). (3) Support students in the development of a discovery-based or hypothesis-based study of the microbial composition of a particular region of the human body. This will be presented in the form of an original research proposal that will incorporate current findings from other human microbiome research and will use these findings to study the given region of the body in health and disease.
  • Competencies: 2. D. Human Physiology and Pathology Knowledge 1.The biochemical and cellular basis for normal and pathological functioning 2.Interaction among anatomical systems and organs in health and disease. 3.The most important chronic, infectious, and degenerative diseases of humans in terms of the public's health 4.Pathobiology of major diseases integrated with the principles of epidemiology. 5.The impact of host characteristics (e.g., immune response, nutrition, presence of other diseases or infections) on disease outcomes
  • Learning Objectives: Four learning objectives include: (1) Learn about the complexity of the human microbiome and techniques that are available to study the ecology of human-associated microbial communities. (2) Realize the impact of the microbial inhabitants of humans on health and disease and be able to describe microbial factors that promote the transition towards diseased states. (3) Participate in a scientifically-founded class debate: Addressing the legal, ethical and social ramifications raised by research into the human microbiome. (4) Understand cutting-edge research and review articles discussing results of investigations of the human microbiome. Furthermore, each student will use these articles to develop a paper which outlines a plan to study the ecology of host-associated microbial communities in health and/or disease.

EPID507: Microbial Control: Sterilization, Disinfection and Manipulation

  • Graduate level
  • Winter term(s)
  • 3 Credit Hour(s)
  • Instructor(s): Rickard, Alex
  • Last offered Winter 2017
  • Prerequisites: None
  • Undergraduates are allowed to enroll in this course.
  • Description: The influence of microorganisms on human-health is significant and control strategies often rely on the use of physical (heat, UV, etc) and chemical (antimicrobial, antibiofilm, etc) technologies. This course will focus on such endeavors with particular focus on broad acting antimicrobials (less emphasis on antibiotics) and new/remerging microbial control technologies.
  • Course Goals: This course has three main goals: (1) Familiarize students with first-line methods to control populations of microorganisms. These methods will be in contrast to the use of antibiotics. First-line methods that will be described include physical and chemical treatment strategies such as heat and filter sterilization, disinfectants, mechanisms and use of broad acting biocides, as well as new emerging technologies such as quorum sensing inhibitors (2) Introduce the concept of multi-species biofilm communities, their recalcitrance and ability to enhance selection of antimicrobial resistance. (3) Discuss strategies that are or could be adopted to enhance microbial control strategies in the domestic, public and medical setting.
  • Competencies: 2. D. Human Physiology and Pathology Knowledge 1.The biochemical and cellular basis for normal and pathological functioning 2.Interaction among anatomical systems and organs in health and disease. 3.The most important chronic, infectious, and degenerative diseases of humans in terms of the public's health 4.Pathobiology of major diseases integrated with the principles of epidemiology. 5.The impact of host characteristics (e.g., immune response, nutrition, presence of other diseases or infections) on disease outcomes