FIU Students Can Take A Coronavirus Lab To Better Understand The COVID-19 Pandemic

FIU students can take the Coronavirus Computational Biology Lab, or BSC 4990L, during Summer B to learn about what caused the coronavirus pandemic.

Christopher Ramirez/Staff Writer

FIU undergraduates can now be personally involved in better understanding the coronavirus. 

The Coronavirus Computational Biology Lab gives students an opportunity to contribute to science and technology and “figure out what changes may have happened to SARS-CoV-2 that made it able to cause this pandemic,” said Jessica U. Liberles, an assistant professor for biological sciences and this lab.

SARS-CoV-2, or severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2, is the genetic strain of coronavirus that causes coronavirus disease 2019, or COVID-19. 

During the first half of the lab, the lectures and assignments teach students to perform basic computational biology skills. 

In the second half of the lab, Liberles said that students will propose and perform a computational biology study “aimed at contributing to the question of what molecular changes made it possible for SARS-CoV-2 to cause COVID-19.” 

The lab is being remotely taught for Summer B. The required prerequisites are General Biochemistry or Genetics, BCH 3033 and PCB 3063 respectively. The lab does not need to be taken with another class and it fulfills one credit. 

The overall description of the BSC 4990L course explains that the coronavirus was caused by a previously unknown coronavirus that has not only crossed the species barrier to infect humans but is also spreading by human contact.

There have been two coronaviruses to cross the species barrier prior to COVID-19: the similarly named SARS-CoV and MERS-CoV. The SARS-CoV outbreak happened from 2002-2003, and the MERS-CoV outbreak started in 2012 and is ongoing.

The lab will use the growing database of SARS-CoV-2 and the previously discovered SARS-CoV to have comparative studies of gene and protein sequence information.

To view class openings visit,

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