A Week in the Life of MSIDGH

A Week in the Life of MSIDGH

It’s a busy time in the Master of Infectious Disease and Global Health (MSIDGH) program!  By condensing the equivalent of two years of material into one fast year that culminates in a master’s degree, our students push the boundaries of their learning potential while experiencing first-hand the ins and outs of a career in biomedical research, global health, and doctoral-level training.

Dynamic didactic lectures


Distinguished professor, Dr. Saul Tzipori, is the chair of the Infectious Disease and Global Health Department

This week, the MSIDGH students are starting out in the classroom with Dr. Saul Tzipori, learning about enteric pathogens, immune deficiency, and the pathophysiology of digestive disorders. While there are a number of professors who could teach the science behind these topics, the opportunity to learn from an established investigator with first-hand experience fighting enteric infectious disease on the global scale is rare. Dr. Tzipori, who has more than 35 years of experience leading investigative teams in the study of diverse aspects of enteric pathogens, augments his teaching with real-world examples of what he has encountered in the lab and in the field.

Hands-on laboratory


Dr. Gillian Beamer demonstrates laboratory techniques.

In the afternoon, the students are headed to the lab to learn how to perform a cell stimulation assay under the guidance of Dr. Abhineet Sheoran (MSIDGH program director) and Dr. Gillian Beamer. Cell simulation assays enable you to activate immune cells in a petri dish so that you can study how they behave when challenged with a pathogen. This type of assay is used to fully understand how the body’s immune system responds to a particular pathogen. A better understanding of the immune response or immune cell signaling cascades (proteomics), can lead to developing effective vaccines or drugs to prevent or treat disease.

Later in the week, the students will further learn about vaccine delivery systems used to prevent diseases on a global scale in Immunology and Vaccinology.

Scientific discussions  

This week in Journal Club, MSIDGH student Ryan Weaver is presenting the paper “Protection Against Malaria by Intravenous Immunization with a Non-replicating Sporozoite Vaccine,” which was published in the journal Science in September, 20131. Ryan will have to thoroughly understand and dissect the paper, present it piece by piece to his peers, and answer any questions the audience may have about the paper or the topic, including the methodology used, and the application of the research to a larger context. Student presentations such as journal club are integrated throughout the entire curriculum to ensure that students develop a good understanding of how a scientific question is answered and how to critically analyze scientific literature.


Dr. Giovanni Widmer leads a classroom discussion.

In Research Ethics, MSIDGH students will debate the question: How do you assign and determine the order of authorship for publication in a reputable, peer-reviewed scientific journal? Assigning authorship is a dynamic process and can be difficult to resolve. Students will explore questions such as:

  • Does the Principal Investigator, who has attracted federal funding to support the research group automatically get authorship on a project for which s/he had little if any involvement with?
  • Do technical laboratory staff get recognized as authors if they contribute to trouble shooting and adjusting experimental procedures in the lab?
  • Do graduate students who write up existing results but had no involvement in conception, execution, and data analysis qualify to be first authors?

Each student in our program brings a unique background and set of experiences to the class, which ensures engaging conversations that often conclude with the notion that there is no “right” answer.

Scientific discovery, thought-provoking discussion, active listening, and pedagogy are all part of a busy week in the MSIDGH program, where a dynamic curriculum and expert investigators help students to prepare for successful careers as scientists.



  1. Seder RA, Chang L-J, Enama ME, Zephir KL, Sarwar UN, Gordon IJ, Holman LA, James ER, Billingsley PF, Gunasekera A, Richman A, Chakravarty S, Manoj A, Velmurugan S, Li M, Ruben AJ, Li T, Eappen AG, Stafford RE, Plummer SH, Hendel CS, Novik L, Costner PJM, Mendoza FH, Saunders JG, Nason MC, Richardson JH, Murphy J, Davidson SA, Richie TL, Sedegah M, Sutamihardja A, Fahle GA, Lyke KE, Laurens MB, Roederer M, Tewari K, Epstein JE, Sim BKL, Ledgerwood JE, Graham BS, Hoffman SL, DiGiovanni C, Williams P, Luongo N, Mitchell J, Florez MB, Larkin B, Berkowitz N, Wilson B, Clarke T, Vasilenko O, Yamshchikov G, Sitar S, Stanford L, Pittman I, Bailer RT, Casazza J, Decederfelt H, Starling J, Williams EC, Lau A, Antonara S, Brocious J, Kemp M, Inglese J, Dranchak P, Abot EN, Reyes S, Ganeshan H, Belmonte M, Huang J, Belmonte A, Komisar J, Abebe Y, Getachew Y, Patil A, Matheny S, Nelson K, Overby J, Pich V, Wen Y, Fan R, Fomumbod E, Awe A, Chakiath C, King M, Orozco MS, Murshedkar T, Padilla D, Jiang B, Gao L, KC N, Xu R, Adams M, Plowe C, Loblein H, Renehan PZ, Kunchai M, Diep L. Protection Against Malaria by Intravenous Immunization with a Nonreplicating Sporozoite Vaccine. Science. 2013;341(6152):1359-1365.