The Virology Specialization Program is directed by faculty from the Department of Cell Biology and Molecular Genetics (CBMG) but is both interdepartmental and multi-institutional. We have combined the expertise of campus faculty as well as those from local institutes to create a truly unique program that essentially spans all of virology and includes faculty working on plant, fungal, animal, and human viruses as well as prions and viroids. The program is designed to train students broadly with the goal of producing graduates that have an understanding and professional level of expertise that encompasses the full breadth of virology.


Most faculty in the Virology Specialization area are part of the Virology Training Program which is supported by a training grant from the National Institutes of Health. The Program maintains a detailed website with news about upcoming events and information for students who wish to become part of the training program. Information about program faculty and specific requirements for students is also maintained on that site.   


  • Students interested in Cell and Developmental Biology should apply to the Biological Sciences (BISI) Graduate Program and, specifically, to the Molecular and Cellular Biology (MOCB) concentration area within that program. 
  • Student in this program follow a first year program that includes core courses, laboratory rotations, and seminar attendance in the fall semester.
  • Those that are members of the Virology Training Program also do an off-campus laboratory rotation with a program member at one of the nearby institutes during the winter break.  Training Program students also take a two-semester course, Special Topics in Virology I and II in which all program faculty present lectures relevant to their specific research areas.
  • This gives students an opportunity to learn about the full breadth of systems used to study viral replication and gene expression, a unique facet of this training program. 

Graduate Courses that are pertinent to the Virology Specialization

Note: All core and elective courses are 7 weeks each except Special Topics in Virology I and II and Bioethics which meet once a week for the entire semester. All CBMG students are required to take all 4 core courses and 3 electives. See the Virology Training Program site for more information on specific requirements students in that program.

  • CBMG688D: Cell Biology I, Structure and Function 
  • CBMG688D: Cell Biology II, Signal Transduction 
  • CBMG688F: Genetics I, Gene Expression 
  • CBMG688I: Genetics II 
  • CBMG688W: Techniques in Microscopy
  • CBMG688J: Immunology and Host Defense

Faculty Research in Virology

  • Faculty were selected to participate in the Virology Training Program by virtue of their outstanding contributions to fundamental aspects of virus replication/gene expression and vaccine development as well as their commitment to training students at the predoctoral and postdoctoral levels.
  • Two of the faculty are members of the National Academy of Science (Moss and Wickner) and two are senior editors on important virology journals - Simon (Journal of Virology) and Moss (Virology).
  • Drs. Simon and Culver study plus sense, ssRNA viruses that infect plants; Drs. Nuss, Dinman and Wickner study fungal dsRNA viruses;
  • Drs. DeStefano, Frederickson, and Green study plus sense, ssRNA viruses of animals; minus strand ssRNA animal viruses are studied by \
  • Drs. Perez and Salzberg; Drs. Moss and McBride study dsDNA viruses;
  • and prions and viroids are studied by Drs. Wickner and Owen, respectively. Drs. Dinman, Moss, Freed, and DeStefano also study the HIV retrovirus.
  • Vaccine development based on knowledge that includes virus replication mechanisms is a major strength of the program, with Drs. Green, Moss, Dinman, and Perez active in this research area. 
  • All Virology Training Program faculty are funded through NIH, NSF, USDA, or intramural or other government programs.  From more information about the specific research areas of the faculty please see the Virology Training Program site.