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The GeneEd website is scheduled to be retired on March 31, 2019. Selected GeneEd content will be transferred to Genetics Home Reference, another online resource from the National Library of Medicine.

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Genetics of Infectious Diseases

Genetics of Infectious Diseases

Genetic factors play a role in our susceptibility to infectious diseases as well as in our response to treatment. Current genetic and genomic research incorporates studies of both the pathogen and the host, with the goal to improve our understanding of epidemiology, prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of infectious diseases.

Materials for Genetics of Infectious Diseases


Horizontal Gene Transfer

Description: This animation shows how bacteria exchange genes on small pieces of DNA called plasmids through a process called horizontal gene transfer.


Description: An animation showing how antibiotic resistant strains of bacteria, such as MRSA, can develop and spread, particularly in hospitals.


Genes and Communicable Diseases

Description: Information on infectious diseases that have genetic based interventions

HIV Resistance Testing

Description: A fact sheet on the different types of HIV resistance and testing options

Single Animal to Human Transmission Event Responsible for 2014 Ebola Outbreak

Description: NIH-funded scientist uses latest genomic technology to make discovery

Interactive Tutorials

Bacteria and Viruses Have DNA Too

Description: An interactive Web site exploring basic concepts of DNA through historical discovery

Click and Learn App

Description: Interactively explore topics in biology with the Click and Learn app. Each module features supporting videos and animations (Internet connection required). Learn about topics in evolution, neurobiology, infectious diseases, bioinformatics, stem cells, RNA, obesity, cancer, and genomics.

From Birds to People - The West Nile Virus Story

Description: West Nile virus infects mosquitoes, birds, and people with very different consequences. Drs. Laura Kramer and Marm Kilpatrick discuss their research on the virus life cycle and how factors like temperature and climate affect spread.

Malaria Challenge

Description: In Malaria Challenge you can explore the different stages of malaria and how scientists are trying to find new ways of preventing and treating this deadly tropical disease.

Some Viruses Store Genetic Information in RNA

Description: An interactive Web site exploring basic concepts of RNA through historical discovery

The Genetics of Resistance to HIV Infection

Description: This is a detailed interactive tutorial exploring mechanisms of HIV resistance. The tutorial sheds lights on the relationships between viruses, cells and the immune system. See how mutations in an HIV receptor confer relative resistance to infection. Find out how often this mutation occurs in the general population, and see data about additional mechanisms of HIV resistance.

Teacher Resources

Decoding the Flu (Lesson Plans/Lesson Activities)

Description: This classroom activity teaches how to read and interpret information stored in DNA. It makes use of personal response systems (clickers) and a PowerPoint presentation. The story centers on a CDC student intern, Jason. While working with a CDC team in Mexico, Jason is the only person who does not get sick from a new strain of flu. It is up to Jason to use molecular data collected from different local strains of flu to identify which one may be causing the illness.

HIV Vaccines (Lesson Plans/Lesson Activities)

Description: A curriculum unit exploring the scientific and ethical issues involved in clinical HIV vaccine trials using human research participants.

Immunology (Lesson Plans/Lesson Activities)

Description: This teaching module will give students an understanding of the two major arms of our immune system: innate immunity and adaptive immunity. Students will participate in two interactive games that demonstrate how antibiotic resistant bacteria come into existence and how vaccines work. This model will explore the importance of vaccines for public health.

Microbes: Too Smart for Antibiotics? (PDF 13.91 KB, Lesson Plans/Lesson Activities)

Description: This lesson focuses on examining why microbes become resistant to antibiotics, as well as their roles in human health and the environment.

Molecular Genetics (Lesson Plans/Lesson Activities)

Description: Lesson guides and video slide show presentation on HIV viral replication and other molecular genetic topics

MRSA Gene Hunt (Lesson Plans/Lesson Activities)

Description: Explore antibiotic resistannce by taking a closer look at the genomes of two strains of the bacterium, staphylococcus aureus.


HIV Double Immunity

Description: People from some European populations carry a genetic mutation that prevents HIV from entering their white blood cells. Could this same mutation have been a selective advantage during the bubonic plague?