Biotechnological and molecular strategies in the control of parasites and vector-borne diseases

A.Y. 2021/2022
Overall hours
Learning objectives
Diseases caused by infectious agents and parasites are one of the major issue for human health worldwide. Molecular biology methods and biotechnological techniques are important tools for the identification and characterization of infectious agents and parasites. Recently, the application of Whole Genome Sequencing (WGS) methods and bioinformatic investigations have provided important insights on the pathogenicity, evolution and ecology of the most important infectious agents.
The main aim of this course is to provide students with knowledge on problems related to the control of vectors borne-diseases and infectious diseases, deepening the concept of integrated pest control and illustrating the main biotechnological approaches for insect pest management.
Expected learning outcomes
After following this course, the students are expected to be able to apply (i) the evolutionary theory to study pathogens-host interaction; (II) the bioinformatic analyses to study parasite genetics; (III) the genomic epidemiology methods for outbreak reconstruction and epidemiological dynamics.
Course syllabus and organization

Single session

Lesson period
First semester
More specific information on the deluvery modes of training activities for academic year 2021/2022 will be provided over the coming months, based on the evolution of the public health situation.
The teaching material (lessons, seminars, papers, links, images, videos) will be made available on the ARIEL platform.
The exam will take place in oral form using the Zoom platform or, where the regulation allows it, in attendance, always in oral form.
Course syllabus
The student will be introduced to: i) the study of biological strategies and biotechnologies to suppress parasite and disease vector populations; ii) to the theory of the evolution and its application, through bioinformatic analyses, to study the relationship between host and parasite.
The lectures will be focused on (i) insect and parasite genomics: biology and applications; (ii) the application of genomic epidemiology methods to study parasite dynamics; (iv) the role of Biotechnology in improving human health; (v) outbreak reconstruction through WGS data and High-Resolution Melting Analysis.
Prerequisites for admission
Basic concepts of biology, ecology, molecular biology and immunology are recommended.
Teaching methods
See Didactic in the Emergency Phase
Teaching Mode: Classroom lectures supported by projected material with common discussions on the topic. Bioinformatic practical lectures in the PC room. Expert researchers will be invited to give seminars. Attendance is highly recommended.
Teaching Resources
See Didactic in the Emergency Phase

Major reference books about parasitology and bioinformatics are the following:

Vector control - Methods for use by individuals and communities. Prepared by Jan A. Rozendaal - ISBN 92 4 154494 5 (NLM Classification: QX 600). WHO Library Cataloguing in Publication Data (free PDF)

Vector-Borne Diseases: Understanding the Environmental, Human Health, and Ecological Connections, Workshop Summary (Forum on Rapporteurs: Stanley M. Lemon, P. Frederick Sparling, Microbial Threats). Margaret A. Hamburg, David A. Relman, Eileen R. Choffnes, and Alison Mack, Forum on Microbial Threats ISBN: 0-309-10898-5, 350 pages, 6 x 9, (2008) (free PDF)

The Biology of Parasites Richard Lucius, Brigitte Loos-Frank, Richard P. Lane, Robert Poulin, Craig Roberts, Richard K. Grencis, Ron Shankland (Translator), Renate FitzRoy (Translator) ISBN: 978-3-527-32848-2 February 2017 Wiley-Blackwell Chapter 1.

Introduction to bioinformatics. Arthur M. Lesk. Oxford University Press.

Copies of the slides as well as other materials will be made available through the course website on the ARIEL platform of the University of Milan ( The material is made available only to registered students of the Degree Course in Molecular Biotechnology and Bioinformatics and should not be distributed to others.
Assessment methods and Criteria
See Didactic in the Emergency Phase
The evaluation of the student's performance will be based on an oral examination which includes a powerpoint presentation of a selected topic, covered during the class.
Lectures: 48 hours