50 Open Courseware Classes on Diseases & Pandemics

The concern over global pandemics and transmitted infectious diseases is palpable. Additionally, it seems that cures for chronic diseases are slow to develop. Fortunately, open courseware courses can offer some insight into why these problems exist and possible scenarios for prevention. The following list of fifty open courseware classes on diseases and pandemics provides a valuable resource for study about these situations.

The courses listed below are divided into categories that range from disease basics and general diseases to specific diseases and workplace issues. Each link is listed within alphabetical order within those categories. While these courses are free to use, the universities that offer these courses do not offer credits for completion.


  1. Basic Human Pathology: Parts I and II: This two-part course covers a wide range of both general and systemic pathology [Tufts].
  2. Disease and Society in America: This course examines the growing importance of medicine in culture, economics and politics [MIT].
  3. Histology: Study of Cells, Tissues and Organs: Use this course to learn more about how cells, tissues and organs react normally and pathologically [Tufts].
  4. Microbiology: This course offers an introduction to the principles of infectious agents with an emphasis on pathology [Tufts].
  5. Nano-life: An Introduction to Virus Structure and Assembly:
  6. Principles of Human Disease: This course covers current understanding of and approaches to human disease [MIT].
  7. Public Health Biology: This course offers an integrative molecular and biological perspective on public health problems [Johns Hopkins].

Diseases (General)

  1. Chronic Infection and Inflammation: What are the Consequences on Your Health? Explore the new emerging field of pathogen-induced chronic diseases, including diabetes, multiple sclerosis, cervical cancer, hepatitis C and liver disease [MIT].
  2. Contagious Diseases: Tuberculosis, cholera, HIV and AIDS are some diseases covered in this module [Rice University Connexions].
  3. Epidemiology of Infectious Diseases: Case studies in this course focus on acute respiratory infections, hepatitis, tuberculosis, sexually transmitted diseases, malaria, and other vector-borne diseases [Johns Hopkins].
  4. Fundamentals of Epidemiology I: This course is the first half of a course that introduces the basic concepts of epidemiology and biostatistics as applied to public health problems. When you finish, you can move on to Fundamentals of Epidemiology II [Johns Hopkins].
  5. Gastrointestinal Pathophysiology: Learn about the pathophysiology of a variety of gastrointestinal disorders from gastroesophageal reflux disease to cirrhosis [Tufts].
  6. Medicine and Public Health in American History: Take advantage of this introduction to differing conceptions of disease, health, and healing throughout American history [Notre Dame].
  7. Oral Public Health and Community Service Program: Learn about the significance of oral diseases and disorders as a “silent epidemic” with grave impacts on general health [Tufts].
  8. Pathophysiology of Infectious Diseases: Study diseases such as Ebola, anthrax, smallpox, West Nile Virus, monkeypox virus, and more [Tufts].
  9. Population Medicine: This course offers an introductory background into the clinical and pathophysiologic aspects of infectious disease of organ systems [Tufts].
  10. The Causes of Particular Diseases in Terms of Environmental Factors: This short course covers HIV, AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria [Rice University Connexions].

AIDS/HIV and Sexual Diseases

  1. AIDS and Poverty in Africa: This interactive seminar focuses on two major issues that affect Sub-Saharan Africa: HIV/AIDS and Poverty [MIT].
  2. Biography of the AIDS Epidemic: Creating an Oral-History Project: In two e-seminars, you can learn about the planning and execution of an oral-history project about AIDS and the physicians that treated it in the early years [Columbia].
  3. Population growth and change: the impact of HIV/Aids: Learn through statistics and infographics about the AIDS epidemic in Africa [Rice University Connexions].
  4. Sexual Health, HIV/STI, and Human Rights: This lecture covers human rights, sexual rights and responses to sexual diseases [Johns Hopkins].
  5. STI Prevention: Using Epidemiology to Inform Policy and Program: Learn about human rights and how reactions to these rights may affect sexual and reproductive health outcomes, including STI and HIV [Johns Hopkins].


  1. Biological Agents of Water and Foodborne Bioterrorism: This presentation examines the various biological agents that terrorists could use against food or water supplies [Johns Hopkins].
  2. Case Studies in Terrorism Response: Learn about plausible bioterrorism scenarios, response activities and considerations for planning [Johns Hopkins].
  3. Radiation Terror 101: This topic introduces general radiation principles, radiation safety and protection, and the basic types of radiological terror, and also provides practical guidance on acute response techniques and general countermeasures. A full version of this course is located at Johns Hopkins Center for Public Health Preparedness (free registration required) [Johns Hopkins].


  1. America’s Battle for a Cure: The Culture and Politics of Breast Cancer Diagnosis and Treatment: Learn how America’s fight against breast cancer has shaped treatment of the disease from the turn of the nineteenth century to today [Columbia].
  2. Avoiding Genomic Instability: DNA Replication, the Cell Cycle, and Cancer: Learn how the process of DNA replication is regulated throughout the cell cycle and what happens when DNA replication goes awry [MIT].
  3. Cancer Biology: From Basic Research to the Clinic: This course offers the molecular and cellular events involved in tumor formation, progression, and metastasis is crucial to the development of innovative therapy for cancer patients [MIT].
  4. Fundamentals of Oncology for Public Health Practitioners: Learn the manner of disease presentation and treatment approaches for major cancers as well as explain the major differences in prevention studies as compared to treatment studies [Johns Hopkins].
  5. The DNA Damage Response as a Target for Anti-Cancer Therapy: Analyze papers from primary research literature to gain an understanding of cell cycle regulation and DNA damage checkpoints that act as powerful emergency brakes to prevent cancer [MIT].


  1. Diabetes Complications: Learn more about the processes that cause diabetes and how Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes are treated [The Open University].
  2. Living with Diabetes: Learn about the parts of the body and processes involved in the development of diabetes [The Open University].
  3. Pathophysiology of Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism: Study the endocrine system and complex endocrine pathways that have increased understanding of normal human physiology and behavior [Tufts].

Heart Disease

  1. A Love-Hate Relationship: Cholesterol in Health and Disease: Examine cholesterol’s role in the cell and in the body as a whole, from its function as a structural component of the membrane to its function in signaling [MIT].
  2. Cardiovascular Pathophysiology: Learn the spectrum of coronary disease and cardiomyopathies as well as basics of vascular diseases [Tufts].
  3. Cardiovascular-Respiratory Sequence: Learn heart and respiratory basics from this course, including pathologies [Open Michigan].
  4. Introduction to Cardiac Care: This course helps student understand hearts, how they work, how to care for them when they’re healthy, and how to treat them when they’re not [Columbia].
  5. Understanding Cardiovascular Diseases: This is an easy-to-understand primer on cardiovascular diseases, risk factors, treatments and preventative care [Open University].


  1. Evolution of the Immune System: Study the development of innate and adaptive immunity and factors, such as adaptive changes in pathogens that have shaped the evolution of immune system [MIT].
  2. Immune Evasion: How Sneaky Pathogens Avoid Host Surveillance: Learn about current biological research and the course of pathogens in this course [MIT].
  3. Immunology Sequence: Take a look at immunology basics and the immune system, including chemokines, leukoctyes, cytokines and medicinal approaches [Open Michigan].
  4. Under the Radar Screen: How Bugs Trick Our Immune Defenses: Learn how microbes defeat human immune systems and the molecular mechanisms that are under attack in the process [MIT].


  1. Flu pandemic: how prepared are we? Learn about the ethical aspects of pandemic influenza in this podcast, including the causes and potential impact of a flu pandemic on the UK [University of Nottingham].
  2. Impact of Pandemic Influenza on Public Health: This training examines how avian influenza could impact world health. A full version of this course at no charge is available at the Johns Hopkins Center for Public Health Preparedness (registration required) [Johns Hopkins].


  1. Disease in the workplace:
  2. Hand Hygiene: Aimed at healthcare practitioners, this learning object describes why hand hygiene is so important in a healthcare setting [University of Nottingham].
  3. Occupational Health and Vulnerable Worker Populations: This module discusses occupational health program considerations (including all levels of prevention) for vulnerable populations [Johns Hopkins].


  1. YaleGlobal Online: Learn more about current perspectives on health hazards in an interconnected world.
  2. Harvard Health: Use the “View Course List” link at top left to view lectures and resources for all health issues, including issues about disease and pandemics.
  3. University of Virginia Health: This list of podcasts and Webcasts covers current issues, diseases and pandemics [University of Virginia].
This entry was posted in Health, Open Courseware and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Did you enjoy this article?


Comments are closed.