New USC Mann Course Explores Discovery and Development of Vaccines and Biologics

BPSI 408 Biologics and Vaccines is open to USC undergraduates starting spring 2024.

What goes into the development of vaccines? A new upper-division undergraduate course from the USC Mann School explores how vaccines and other biopharmaceutical products are researched, designed and used to treat and prevent diseases.

Co-taught by Hovhannes J. Gukasyan, associate professor of pharmacology and pharmaceutical sciences, and Amanda M. Burkhardt, assistant professor of clinical pharmacy, the course focuses on the varying technologies used to develop these therapeutics and the many diseases and conditions they can be used to manage or completely prevent, as well as surrounding regulatory and ethical issues.

Students will read, synthesize and present findings from primary research articles related to course material on vaccines and biologics, in small-group settings. They will also gain public speaking skills by participating in 12 “Journal Club” presentations throughout the course of the semester.

“One of the unique features of this class is that it’s entirely pragmatic in content,” Gukasyan says. He noted that guest speakers will include John Geigert, president of BioPharmaceutical Quality Solutions and Peter J. O’Brien, who now owns StageGate Consulting, after decades of experience in biomedicine design and research at Pfizer and Eli Lilly.

BPSI 408 is the newest addition to a variety of undergraduate class offerings at the USC Mann School exploring the impacts of new drug development. These include Comparative Neuropharmacology: A Kaleidoscope of Experiences (RXRS 202); Mysterious Deaths: From Poisons in History to Forensic Toxicology (RXRS 304); Breaking Brains: The Pharmacology of Addiction (RXRS 405), and more.

More information can be found at USC Schedule of Classes.