66446 - Biomolecular Techniques Applied to Transmissible Diseases

Academic Year 2022/2023

  • Moduli: Caterina Lupini (Modulo 1) Andrea Balboni (Modulo 2)
  • Teaching Mode: Traditional lectures (Modulo 1) Traditional lectures (Modulo 2)
  • Campus: Bologna
  • Corso: Second cycle degree programme (LM) in Animal Biotechnology (cod. 8522)

Learning outcomes

The aim of the course is to give a knowledge on epidemiology and control of infectious diseases of animals to give the means to understand and use epidemiological tools in veterinary medicine. In particular, the objective is to provide information on quantitative methods, diagnostic tests, evaluation of risk factors, surveillance systems and development of epidemiological studies.

Course contents

The course is divides in two specific modules.


Epidemiology, diagnosis and control of infectious diseases

  • Introduction to epidemiology: historical information, definition, basis.
  • The aim and scope of epidemiology.
  • Causality: associations, causal inference and casuality; statistical significance.
  • Ecology of diseases: factors related to the presence, maintenance and transmission of infectious diseases in animal population; difference between infection and disease; factors related to etiological agent, host and environment.
  • Diagnostic tests: the way to choose and evaluate diagnostic tests; specificity, sensibility, predictive value and detection limit.
  • Measures and frequency.
  • Disease trends in relation to the time: endemic, epidemic and sporadic trends.
  • Sampling: samples and population; sample size; methods.
  • Control of infectious diseases: biosafety and risk assesment; vaccines (traditional and new generation vaccines) and vaccination.

Gene Delivery

Basic concepts of gene delivery for therapeutic use and vaccine production will be discussed, with particular reference to the objectives, methods and steps of gene delivery. For the most important viral vectors used in gene delivery (Adeno-associated Virus Retrovirus Adenovirus, Poxvirus and Herpesvirus), life cycle and genomic structure will be re-called and the methods of production and applications in therapy or prophylaxis will be illustrated.


Laboratory of bioinformatics

Within the course a laboratory of molecular epidemiology is included to provide the knowledge of softwares and alghoritms to analyse nucleotide and amino acid sequences and to carried out phylogenetic analysis on gene sequences, to study the evolution of infectious agents. At the end of the module the student acquires the ability to use softwares for evolution and phylogenetic analyses of infectious agents and is able to read/interpret phylogenetic trees. The program includes: definition of bioinformatic; basic concepts of molecular evolution; assembling of gene sequences starting from sanger elettropherograms; alignment of gene sequences; standard formats (FASTA, MEGA, CLUSTAL); nucleotide and protein data bases; construction and interpretation of phylogenetic trees.



  • Bottarelli E., Ostanello F. Epidemiologia: teoria ed esempi di medicina veterinaria. Edagricole, Milano, 2011 ISBN-978-88-506-5347-8
  • Manuale di virologia veterinaria. Mara Battilani, Sara Ciulli, Andrea Balboni, Laura Gallina, Alessandra Scagliarini (2013) Bononia University Press.
  • The phylogeny Handbook. A practical approach to phylogenetic analyses and hypothesis testing. Second edition. Philippe Lemey, Marco Salemi e Anne-Mieke Vandamme. Cambridge University Press, 2009
  • Softwares available in Felsenstein's web page: http://evolution.genetics.washington.edu/phylip/software.html
  • Other online material: http://www.quadernodiepidemiologa


  • Veterinary Epidemiology, Thrusfield M., Oxford, United Kingdom, Blackwell Science Ltd, 2007
  • Fenner's Veterinary Virology, Fourth Edition, Academic Press 2011



Teaching methods

Class lectures

Kahoot sessions

Work group

Practicals in informatic class.

Assessment methods

For the module 1, student assessment will be based on an oral test of the duration of rafly 15-30 minutes where the studend must answer at 3 questions.

The test is passed if the student will get a minimum score of 18/30. The grade will be assesed as following described:

- 18-19-> preparation on a very limited number of topics covered in the course and ability to analyze only with the help of the teacher;

- 20-24 -> preparation on a limited number of topics covered in the course, autonomous analysis skills on focused questions

- 25-29 -> preparation on a large number of topics covered in the course, independent and critical analysis skills

- 30-30L -> complete preparation on the topics covered in the course, ability to autonomous analysis, criticism and transfer on the subject, with ideas for self-reflection

For the bioinformatic laboratory (module 2), the assessment will be based on a practical examination by computer exercises at the end of the course with answers to 7 questions. The test will be passed by correctly answering at least 4 of the 7 questions. The students who will not be present on the day of the practical exam, will do a written test composed by 16 questions with “true/false” response; the student will pass the test by correctly answering at least 9 questions.

The exam will be designed to verify that students have attained the necessary knowledge and skills to put into practice what they have learned during the course. The communication abilities will be particularly evaluated.

After passing the test of module 2, the final grade will result from the test of module 1 that the student will pass if obtains a minimum score of 18/30.
Prof.ssa Caterina Lupini records the exam.


Teaching tools

Power point slides and web resources available in https://iol.unibo.it/

Office hours

See the website of Caterina Lupini

See the website of Andrea Balboni


Good health and well-being

This teaching activity contributes to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals of the UN 2030 Agenda.