Going Viral: The Implications of Researching the World’s Deadliest Pathogens

Introduction (25 – 50% of a typed, double-spaced page): Set up the topic. Speak in general terms about deadly viruses and pathogens. You may wish to open with a brief description of a recent COVID-19 news. Statistics would work very well in this introduction. Also, acknowledge the importance of biomedical research in this field. RESEARCHED THESIS QUESTION: How can we achieve a balance between the requirements of scientific research and the need to keep the world safe from deadly viruses and pathogen? Your answer to this question will be your thesis statement.

My advice for this introduction is to write it last, after you have completed the other paragraphs. Unlike the first essay, the thesis statement for the research paper is genuinely argumentative, meaning there are sides to take. The key word is “balance” because we are neither stop all virus research, nor are we going to ignore the inherent dangers of the research.

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BP #1 (50 – 75%): Historical background: How have viruses impacted human civilization in the past? Select ONE of the following historical examples to research and discuss – OPTION 1: The Black Plague. What was the virus? Who was affected? How did society at the time respond? What were the long-term impacts? OPTION 2: The influenza pandemic of 1918. What was the virus? Who was affected? How did society at the time respond? What were the long-term impacts? OPTION 3: The HIV/AIDS epidemic in the US (1980s – 2000s) What was the virus? Who was affected? How did society at the time respond? What were the long-term impacts?

BP #2 (50 – 75%): Scientific advances in the study of viruses. Part I: Discuss the major discoveries and breakthroughs in the study of viruses (which is called “virology”). Begin with variolation in the 18th century. Then discuss Edward Jenner’s development of the small pox vaccine. Follow on by discussing Pasteur’s work in the 19th century.

BP #3 (50 – 75%): Scientific advances in the study of viruses. Part 2: Next, describe the development of the polio vaccine in the 20th century (be sure to discuss how devastating the disease was during that era. Iron lungs… FDR… etc.) You will of course want to discuss Jonas Salk and his research.

BP #4 (25 – 50%): Bioweapons. How have viruses and other deadly pathogens been used in warfare and terrorism over time? Select ONE of the following historical examples to research and discuss – OPTION 1: The Siege of Fort Pitt during the French/Indian War. OPTION 2: The work of the Japanese military’s Unit 731 during WWII. OPTION 3: Iraq’s use of bioweapons against POWs and Kurds during the Iran/Iraq War.

BP #5 (50- 75%): Current viral outbreaks. Discuss The COVID-19 pandemic from the initial outbreaks in China, to its devastating impact on Italy and Spain, to the current situation in the US.

BP #6 (50 75%): Current state of viral research and the inherent dangers of researching viruses. Here you will use the Specter articles in the course packet as your primary source.

Evaluation (50 – 75%): Now that you have researched the science, the history, current events related to viruses and deadly pathogens, respond to the thesis research question. What is the best approach(es) to balancing the needs of scientific research and the safety of civilian population when it comes to studying viruses and deadly pathogens?

Conclusion (15 – 25%): Briefly restate the problems and concerns related to this topic. What might be the on-going or long-term consequences for society and the world as we come to understand these viruses? Should we be hopeful or pessimistic about the future?


USE OF SOURCES: For this essay you will be using MLA citation and formatting to integrate the readings into your essay.

Paraphrase and summarize concepts into your own words
Use selective direct quotes.
Any idea, concept, or point made from an external source but be cited.
Do not attempt to write on a concept you do not 100% understand. Please re-read the text and ask for help if you are struggling with the concepts
Cite your sources in-text parenthetically. (Smith 14), for example.
WORKS CITED PAGE: All drafts must include a dedicated, properly formatted works cited page

TONE: Adhere to a formal tone. No slang, no contractions, no “I” POV, no attempts at “humor.”

FORMAT: 12 pt. Double space. Acceptable fonts: (Times New Roman, Calibri, Ariel, Helvetica). Page numbers should be at the TOP RIGHT HAND side of the page and should include your last name.

Some Sources to Get you Started:

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: https://www.cdc.gov/ (Links to an external site.)

World Health Organization: http://www.who.int/ (Links to an external site.)

National Institutes of Health: https://www.nih.gov/ (Links to an external site.)

National Center for Biotechnology Information: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK21523

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