Spring 2009

The Biology of Catastrophe: Cancer and AIDS

Listed in: Biology, as BIOL-08


Richard A. Goldsby (Section 01)


AIDS, the acquired immunodeficiency syndrome, is caused by HIV infection and is the result of a failure of the immune system. Cancer is the persistent, uncontrolled and invasive growth of cells. A study of the biology of these diseases provides an opportunity to contrast the normal operation of the immune system and the orderly regulation of cell growth with their potentially catastrophic derangement in cancer and AIDS. A program of lectures and readings will provide an opportunity to examine the way in which the powerful technologies and insights of molecular and cell biology have contributed to a growing understanding of cancer and AIDS. Factual accounts and imaginative portraits will be drawn from the literature of illness to illuminate, dramatize and provide an empathetic appreciation of those who struggle with disease. Finally, in addition to scientific concepts and technological considerations, society's efforts to answer the challenges posed by cancer and AIDS invite the exploration of many important social and ethical issues. Three classroom hours per week. This course is for non-majors. Students majoring in Biology, Chemistry, or Psychology will be admitted only with permission from the instructor. Limited to 50 students. Spring semester. Professor Goldsby.