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University of Rhode Island — Animal & Veterinary Science
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AVS 401 - Pathobiology
Course Information

Professor: Dr. Marta Gomez-Chiarri
Semester: Fall
Credits: 3
Prerequisites: BIO 201 or AVS 331

Catalog Description: Mechanisms and causes of disease in homeothermic and poikilothermic vertebrates. Cell death, inflammation, infection, metabolic disorders, and neoplasis in relation to fish, reptiles, birds, and mammals. Effects of disease at the cellular, tissue, organ, and organismal levels with a medical orientation.

Course Goals & Outcomes

The goals of this course are:

  • To have an understanding of the mechanisms of cellular damage
  • To learn about the differences in the mechanisms and manifestations of disease in different cells, tissues, organs and organisms (from cells to populations, from prions to humans)
  • To become familiar with and understand the terminology and techniques used in the study of diseases
  • To learn about some of the important diseases transmissible among humans and animals
  • To be able to understand the current research literature and the implications on our day-to-day lives
  • To gain experience in written (tests, homework assignments) and oral communications (participation in class)
  • To be able to discuss controversial issues related to pathobiology (stem cells, aging, mad cow)
Course Syllabus

Class Topics

  • What is Pathobiology?
  • Cells and disease: cell damage
  • Cell death: necrosis, apotosis
  • Mechanisms of self-defense: inflammation, innate immunity and adaptive immunity
  • Alterations of inflammation and immunity
  • Alterations in cell growth: cancer and carcinogenesis
  • Environmental pathobiology: toxicology and biomarkers
  • Genes and genetic diseases
  • Methods and techniques in pathobiology
  • Central nervous system
  • Circulatory system
  • Endocrine and reproductive systems
  • Principles of infectious diseases: from DNA to epidemiology
  • Diseases caused by: prions, viruses, bacteria and parasites
  • Evolution of infectious diseases, host-pathogen interactions
  • Ecology of infectious diseases
  • Controversial issues in pathobiology
  • Paleopathology

Grades will be based on the following criteria:

  • Exams (3)
  • Term paper
  • Final exam
  • Literature quizzes
About The Professor

Marta Gomez-Chiarri, Ph.D.
Professor of Fish and Shellfish Pathology, Aquaculture Biotechnology

University of Rhode Island
Department of Fisheries, Animal and Veterinary Science
23 Woodward Hall
Kingston, RI 02881
Office: (401)874-2917
Fax: (401)874-7575

Dr. Gomez-Chiarri is interested in fish and shellfish pathology. She is studying DNA vaccines for the prevention of bacterial fish diseases working towards the development of efficacious, safe and economic vaccines that can be used on fish farms. Dr. Gomez-Chiarri also explores the molecular immune responses of the Eastern oyster to the parasite Perkinsus marinus, a parasite causing diseases that have been devastating oyster populations. Dr. Gomez-Chiarri collaborates with other professors at the university working to help the state and local fish farmers to identify and combat disease outbreaks within our area.


  • B.S., Universidad Complutense, Madrid, Spain
  • Ph.D., Universidad Complutense, Madrid, Spain

Selected Publications

  • Soffientino B, Gwaltney T, Nelson DR, Specker JL, Mauel M, Gomez-Chiarri M. Infectious necrotizing enteritis and mortality caused by Vibrio carchariae in summer flounder (Paralichthys dentatus) during intensive culture. Dis Aquat Org (1999) 38:201-210.
  • Gomez-Chiarri M, Chiaverini L. Evaluation of promoters for the construction of DNA vaccines for aquaculture. Genet Anal (1999) 15:121-124
  • Gomez-Chiarri M, Kirby V.L, Hereford L, Powers D. A. Isolation and characterization of an actin promoter from the red abalone (Haliotis rufescens). Marine Biotechnology (1999) 1:269-278.
Reasons To Take This Course

"This was an awesome class! I'd take it again if they'd let me. It was very in-depth - when we learned something, we learned everything. For each topic area, we worked on case studies in groups. This helped enhance my understanding of the mechanisms of disease, relating symptoms to the actual biology. Go to class, pay attention and participate - you will get out what you put in." - Caitlin

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