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Tel Aviv University

Viruses & How to Beat Them: Cells, Immunity, Vaccines

Tel Aviv University via edX

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Have you ever wondered what viruses actually are?

Have you been curious about the ways they invade our bodies, attack our cells and make us sick? Come and learn what viruses are made of and understand the mechanisms of how they hijack and take over our cells.

There is no need for a background in science - just bring your curious mind!

Our bodies are made of cells, which are amazing molecular machines. So long as everything is in working order, we feel great. But surprisingly, these unbelievably tiny parasites made of Protein and Genes - viruses - can take over and cause serious damage to our bodies.

Step by step, this course will teach you how the cells of our bodies work to keep us healthy. We will then explore the vast kingdom of viruses; especially those that have caused epidemics like the flu, AIDS and Ebola. Finally, we will systematically review our immune system, how it identifies "the enemies," and how it takes them out.

The lectures have been carefully planned to clearly describe basic Cell Biology, Virology, and Immunology in terms that everyone can understand, without compromising scientific correctness. You'll participate in a detailed exploration of the structures in our cells and how they function. You'll learn how viruses replicate and the way our immune system protects us from disease, as well as how scientists investigate these topics. You'll view laboratory demonstrations that illustrate how cells and viruses are grown and studied. Throughout the course, you will meet leading experts and scientists - some of whom have received the Nobel Prize in recognition of their discoveries and contributions to Chemistry and Medicine.

Together we will gain a clearer understanding of how science has been applied to produce effective diagnostic tests, better medicines, and protective vaccines. You'll gain fascinating and comprehensible knowledge that is also practical. It is our goal to arm you with sufficient credible and practical understanding of how vaccines work so that you can make better vaccine-relevant decisions for you and your family.

This course was produced at Tel Aviv University by TAU Online - learning innovation center.

Taught by

Jonathan Gershoni


5.0 rating, based on 29 Class Central reviews

Start your review of Viruses & How to Beat Them: Cells, Immunity, Vaccines

  • Engaging introductory bio course. Moves from a few chemistry basics to a little cell biology before delving into viruses, the immune system, and vaccines. Great diagrams and graphics to aid understanding. Includes introductory-level interviews with major scientific heavyweights.

    FMI see my post on my personal blog at
  • Anonymous
    Extremely good course. I spent 4 to 5 hours a week at least, but this include additional reading both suggested and others. I have a background in technology and interest in science but no formal scientific training. The content is well structured…
  • Anonymous
    Excellent course. Professor Gershoni is a very good instructor. He presented the material very clearly. The course was well organized building the student's knowledge from the ground up so that new material was easily understood as necessary backgro…
  • Anonymous
    The course was fascinating, Prof. Gershoni delivered it clearly and made the learning fun. Enriching the course with historical anecdotes along side breaking down the structure of things kept me engaged. The short episodes were easy to follow, as li…
  • Anonymous
    Learned so much. Fantastic overview of many areas. Now know enough basic material to go further.


    It is FUN doing the course
  • I really liked this course. Professor Gershoni does an excellent job in explaining a complicated subject (the inner workings of the cell) in a very clear manner, without leaving out details or watering down. It is clear that the course has been put together with a lot of enthusiasm and eye for detail. Also during the course, the staff is also very involved on the discussion board. Icing on the cake is the interviews with experts (including Nobel laureates!) in the field. Recommended for people want to understand the biology of viruses, and the biology of replication, in some detail.
  • Anonymous
    Α highly recommended course!!! Excellent!!!! The Professor was amazing, the graphs wonderful!!! All the speakers-professors were excellent also, AND GETTING TO SEE AND HEAR PR. WATSON WAS OUT OF THIS WORLD!!! Being a teacher, I have already done this myself, have done it with two of my students, and now my 17 year old twin daughters want to start when it is again on-line!!! So my opinion is of course one should attend it, as it is incomparably informative and educating!!! I am going to continue recommending it to all my students!!!
  • Anonymous
    For an introductory virology course this one was very good and very comprehensive. It covered a lot of material and wasn't overly superficial. I also liked the interviews with leading scientists. It's nice to be able to put a face to a name. I did ask a couple of questions in the Discussion Section that I thought were pretty good - I would have liked the answers to them. Somehow, however, they disappeared in to the ether. Problems like this might be addressed in future editions of the course.
  • D
    This has got to be the best Life Sciences introductory course I've taken.

    It was informative.
    It was humorous.
    It was engaging.

    I don't have a science background and I learn a LOT. Professor G. is a fantastic instructor! Kudos to him and his team for putting together such as great course. I hope they create more courses in the future.
  • Stephen May
    Interesting and informative course. I work in health care and learned quite a bit! The videos and charts were great. The course information built over time to bring the student to vaccines. I recently read an article in Scientific American about Flu vaccines and realized that I understood a lot more of what I read than before this course. Outstanding! That's what learning is suppose to do. Glad I took the course.
  • Anonymous
    I thoroughly enjoyed this course. The professor was fantastic. I came to this course from an herbalist background. I was personally hit by 3 really wicked viruses in an 18 month period. Hearing from healthcare professionals "we can't treat viruses", was discouraging, so I went looking for herbal solutions and found them. Learning more about how a virus works, will help me take care of them easier in the future!
  • Anonymous
    I joined this course because I'm interested in the topic and I want to study that. As a high school student I wanted to deepen my knowledge and I think that this course met my expectations.

    I think the explanation methods and animation were very good, also concept maps were very helpful. This made the curriculum easy to understand.

    I would be happy if there was a follow-up course.
  • Anonymous
    An excellent course, covering basic cell biology, what viruses are, the different ways they infect their host, how the immune systems fight back and why immunisation works. Well structured and really well presented with engaging, informative and sometimes light hearted content. I can strongly recommend this course for anyone interested in health and how the body works.
  • Anonymous
    Interesting, lively and ... entertaining.

    It is true that no background is required: medium difficulty

    However, the course managed to present clearly the subject from various points of view: present knowledge, historical, interviews with experts (including some Nobel prizes, experiments).

    It's really a good start to more advanced MOOC such as introduction to Biology.

    Great course
  • Simply awesome course!! Before start of the course ,i thought it will more or less focusing on viruses only but that is not the case,it covers various aspects of immunology. The 5-10 minutes of lectures are equivalent to 1/2 hr of book reading,i.e very useful in last minutes of preparation of exam.Thanks for providing opportunity to listen nobel laureates.
  • Anonymous
    The greatest course I have ever taken, not only online one. And since I hold a PhD (although in technology), I have taken really many... I greatly recommend it to everyone interested in the reasons why we are sick and in the health in general.
    I took it couple of months after fighting a not-so-nice viral disease, this course gave me a lot of answers.
  • Anonymous
    I highly recommend this course! Very informative, clear, full of humor, and most of all interesting. Short videos with quizzes to test immediate understanding. Great simplified animations and handouts which summarize and integrate all aspects learned. Added bonus - influence of diseases and vaccination on course of world history.
  • Anonymous
    This was a fantastic introductory to the immune system and viruses! This course was laid out in a simple and easy to follow format. This is a great course for those who are unfamiliar with viruses. My favorite parts were the story telling and animation of how viruses were first discovered. Highly recommended!
  • Artem Osypenko
    Viruses & How to Beat Them: Cells, Immunity, Vaccines is a very good beginner course on the topic. Very well done and taught. With numerous interviews with the leading experts in the field.
    I particularly liked a summary block-schemes at the end of each chapter.
  • it is one of the best courses i have ever come across on edx.professor gershoni is one of the best teachers you can have who explains everything so well added to that the interviews,animation used to explain things everything is just great.i love this course.

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