Virology: Molecular Biology and Pathogenesis

Editor: Leonard C. Norkin1
Affiliations: 1: Department of Microbiology, University of Massachusetts, Amherst, Massachusetts
Content Type: Textbook
Publication Year: 2010

Category: Viruses and Viral Pathogenesis; Best-Selling Textbook

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Based on the author’s experiences teaching virology for more than 35 years, enables readers to develop a deep understanding of fundamental virology by emphasizing principles and discussing viruses in the context of virus families. Moreover, individual virus families are examined within the context of the Baltimore classification system, a key unifying theme that allows readers to assume basic facts about the replication strategy of a virus based on the nature of its genome.

The first chapter provides an historical overview, followed by a chapter introducing the principles of animal virus classification and the Baltimore classification system. The next chapter explores the various modes of virus infection and disease. Chapter 4 then considers host defenses against microorganisms and viral countermeasures to subvert those host defenses.

Armed with a solid foundation in basic principles, readers move on to eighteen subsequent chapters, each one dedicated to a particular virus family. These chapters detail the organization of the viral genome and its pattern of expression, with additional discussions covering viral structure, entry, assembly, release, and associated medical issues.

The flow of chapters in constitutes a continuous narrative in which key principles are regularly reintroduced to show how they apply in different contexts. This emphasis on principles coupled with the text’s clear, straightforward writing style enables upper-level undergraduate and graduate students as well as professionals to grasp core principles of virology with ease.

  • Organization by virus family within the context of the Baltimore classification system provides a strategic framework for mastering the principles of virology
  • Provides a uniform organization and logical flow of chapters as well as a consistent, accessible writing style
  • Highlight boxes review fundamental molecular and cellular biology, introduce pioneers in the field of virology, and address serious public policy issues
  • Key unanswered and thought-provoking scientific questions encourage critical thinking
  • Examples show how virology has played a role in crucial public policy decisions

For more on the book and information on requesting an examination copy please visit http://www.asmscience.org/instructors

There are no separately available contributors for this publication.

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The Quarterly Review of Biology

03 February 2015

 A quote by Leonardo da Vinci in the front matter of this textbook perfectly sets the stage for Norkin’s overview of basic virology: “Human subtlety will never devise an invention more beautiful, more simple or more direct than does nature because in her inventions nothing is lacking, and nothing is superfluous.” Throughout the volume, the author meticulously covers different families of viruses while hammering home the common theme that viruses do not waste genetic space and that they are masterful in adapting to their hosts.

The book begins with an overview of viruses, an introduction of viral classification, and a fairly thorough description of viral disease and the interplay between viruses and their hosts. The second part covers viral replication and pathogenesis of different families of viruses. The organization of this part of the volume will likely be well received by those not familiar with virology, inthat it is nicely organized into distinct subsections for each family of viruses (structure, genome, replication). Finally, the last section, which covers HIV, oncogenes, and cancer, will likely be compelling to both undergraduates and graduate students. Throughout the book, there are highlighted sections (designated as boxes) that cover important concepts, describe the recent primary literature, and/or refer to earlier sections of the
volume that discussed similar topics. These boxes can easily be utilized to encourage students to delve into the primary literature. Overall, this is a very well-organized, readable textbook that is appropriate for both undergraduate and graduate students.

The Quarterly Review of Biology

Volume 87, Page 162

Reviewer: Scott E. Hensley, Immunology Program, Wistar Institute, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Review Date: March 2012

Doody's Review Service

10 January 2014

At a Glance

This new virology textbook covers the fundamentals of viral molecular biology, with an overall organization based on the viral families.

Key features:   

Focuses on teaching students enduring concepts of virology. Includes a distinctive organization based on virus families. Emphasizes the range of adaptations viruses have evolved to solve the various problems posed by their intracellular lifestyle, concerning gene expression as well as other issues Intended for use in a semester length basic virology course at the seniorundergraduate/graduate level.


This comprehensive study of virology approaches the subject in a fundamental manner that encourages students to apply key principles in different situations.


The intent is to prepare students for the deeper study and understanding of virology principles.


The book was written for graduate students or advanced undergraduate students learning advanced virology principles. It also would be useful as a good review for advanced students. The author has spent many years designing this book and teaching virology and his experience is evident in each chapter.


A history of virology begins the book, providing an overview of the influence that viruses have had on history that is sprinkled with interesting historical stories set apart in boxes. This chapter is followed by the basics of how viral families are organized and the classification schemes, which includes how viruses are assembled and the variety of shapes viruses use. Other chapters cover the mechanisms used to infect the host cells, which leads to disease, and then how the host responds to this invasion. The remaining chapters systematically present each virus family from how they attach to target cells to how they replicate inside the host cell and then release new virions. Throughout these chapters are boxed areas of thought-provoking issues or questions that encourage students to examine the questions further. The figures and diagrams are of very high quality and demonstrate important principles that are difficult to describe in words.


This is one of the most absorbing virology textbooks I have reviewed. It is an exceptional design achievement and an extraordinary book. I feel certain that it will inspire new generations to seek further answers in this intriguing field.

Doody's Review Service

Reviewer: Rebecca Horvat, PhD, D(ABMM) (University of Kansas Medical Center)

Review Date: Unknown

©Doody’s Review Service

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