Imperial launches new online courses on virology and vaccinology


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A new online Coursera series will explore how viruses infect us, how vaccines protect us and the latest cutting-edge infectious disease research.

During the COVID-19 pandemic there was a rise in interest in viruses and vaccines, with Imperial College London leading vital research in vaccine development and understanding about the evolution, spread and effects of coronaviruses.

But how do we study viruses? What is a vaccine? And why don’t viruses kill us all?

Foundations in Virology and Vaccinology, now available on Coursera, answers these questions and explores how viruses cause infectious disease and how vaccines protect us. Participants will hear from Imperial’s world-leading experts in infectious disease including Professor Wendy Barclay, Professor Neil Ferguson, Professor Robin Shattock, Professor Peter Openshaw, Professor Danny Altmann, Professor Paul Farrell and Professor Graham Taylor.

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The courses are led and presented by Professor John Tregoning, Professor in Vaccine Immunology and Professor Mike Skinner, Emeritus Professor in Virology in the Department of Infectious Disease.

Professor John Tregoning said: “Imperial has built world-leading expertise in Infectious Disease research, and we are excited to share all we have learned in recent years with a much wider audience. We hope to inspire the next generation of scientific leaders in these vital fields.

The courses aim to teach the fundamental concepts around viruses and vaccines for those who are interested in gaining knowledge in this field or provide a grounding for further research work for those interested in academic, pharmaceutical or bioscience industries.

Online specialisation – Foundations in Vaccinology and Virology

The specialisation is split into four comprehensive courses. The first two courses discuss vaccines, covering the history of their development, the different types in use and how they were used to reduce disease during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The further two courses cover viruses, how they infect and replicate in our cells, how we diagnose and treat them and how we have learnt about them.

The full list of courses are:

  • How vaccines work: Learners will explore the science which underpins vaccines and their development, how vaccines work with the immune system and induce protection and the epidemiological basis of how vaccines are rolled out. Finally, it will explore how new vaccines are developed.
  • Types of vaccines: Learners will be introduced to a framework for understanding vaccine development, vaccines against bacteria as well as ‘living’ vaccines. Finally, the course will cover new approaches to help fight emerging pandemics.
  • What are viruses and how do we work with them: Learners will explore the nature of viruses and how they replicate and discover how scientists study viruses and the methods they use to identify and follow them in individuals and populations.
  • What do viruses do and how do we control them: Learners will explore how viruses interact with hosts to infect, replicate and cause disease and how this can lead to outbreaks and pandemics. It also covers how we can control infections and use therapeutic and vaccination approaches to do this.

The course from Imperial College London draws upon expertise from a wide range of experts from the Department of Infectious Disease, School of Public Health, National Heart and Lung Institute and the Department of Immunology and Inflammation.

Professor Peter Openshaw, Professor of Experimental Medicine at the National Heart and Lung Institute said: “This massive open online course is a great showcase for our science and Imperial’s expertise. We’re pleased to deliver this to an external audience as it is key for scientists to engage with the public and for everyone to understand the years of research underpinning the innovations and discoveries made in recent years.”

Find out more about the Foundations of Virology and Vaccinology course and sign up through Coursera

You can enrol onto the specialisation for free through Coursera but to complete the marked assignments and receive a certificate you will need to pay a fee.


Meesha Patel

Meesha Patel
Faculty of Medicine Centre

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Education, School-of-Public-Health, Healthcare, Viruses, Vaccines, Global-health, Coronavirus
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