Program Details

Your Genes, Viral Genes, and Your Health

Toby Rossman

Course Description

What does it mean when viruses such as COVID-19 mutate? Do you have mutated genes? Knowledge of genes and genetic variation is increasing at a rapid rate. This series will introduce you to basic genetics, a description of DNA (and viral RNA), what genes do, how humans differ from each other and from other species, and how scientists use genetic information to predict disease risk to study viral transmission and viral mutations. New genetic methods will be described for whole-genome studies, ancestry, evolution, genetic engineering, forensics, and the new mRNA vaccines.


  1. General Principles of Genetics
  2. DNA and viral RNA: What They Do
  3. Genetic Variations and Disease Risk
  4. New Technology: Forensics, Ancestry, Engineering, Vaccines

About the Instructor

  • Toby G. Rossman, Ph.D., is a professor of environmental medicine at NYU School of Medicine. She received research funding for the genetic effects of environmental carcinogens for more than 30 years, mainly from the NIH, published over 120 peer-reviewed articles, and was on the editorial boards of four scientific journals. Rossman consulted for the NIH, USEPA, and WHO. She is currently a part-time NYU professor, director of the Hudson Valley Science Café, lecturer at public venues, and a consultant to the legal profession on toxic torts.