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The Ebola Wars: Mission Immune Evasion


Tracie M. Addy
Center for the Integration of Teaching, Learning and Scholarship
Lafayette College
Derek Dube
Department of Biology
University of Saint Joseph
Jonathan O. Nardolilli

Catlilli Games
Catherine Croft

Catlilli Games
Orville C. Paynter

Catlilli Games
Alex J. Sadowski

Catlilli Games
Michael Petersen

Catlilli Games
Rumin Aidun

Catlilli Games


Through a unique anthropomorphic view and the integration of game-based learning, this case study explores how the Ebola virus can evade the immune response. In working through the case, students are challenged to examine the first, second and third lines of defense of the immune response and the weapons that the Ebola virus employs to remain undetected by the immune system. Students apply their knowledge of Ebola virus evasion of the immune response using an online game specifically developed to accompany the case. Initially designed to be implemented in a general biology, microbiology, or anatomy and physiology course, this case has also been used with advanced high school students. All characters are fictional. Students should have a preliminary understanding of the lines of defense of the immune response prior to working on the case, as well as foundational knowledge on viral structure, function and life cycles.


  • Describe the various lines of defense of the immune response and relevant Ebola virus evasion mechanisms.
  • Apply knowledge of Ebola virus evasion using game-based learning.
  • Interpret data related to survivors and non-survivors of Ebola virus infections.
  • Evaluate how gene location affects Ebola virus protein production and viral efficiency.
  • List the major Ebola genes involved in the evasion of the host cell immune response.
  • Explain the role of the proteins encoded by Ebola genes in evading the immune response.
  • Explain the necessity of the host cell in viral replication.


Ebola virus; viruses; infection; immune response; immune avoidance; gaming; evasion; Catlilli

Topical Areas


Educational Level

High school, Undergraduate lower division



Type / Methods

Directed, Interrupted



Subject Headings

Biology (General)  |   Cell Biology  |   Medicine (General)  |   Microbiology  |  

Date Posted


Teaching Notes

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Supplemental Materials

Students should review the following preparatory reading before beginning the case.


Answer Key

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The following video(s) are recommended for use in association with this case study.

  • Spillover: Zika, Ebola and Beyond
    This documentary captures public health concerns from several infectious disease outbreaks that spilled over from animals to humans including the 2014 Ebola virus outbreak. Running time: 56:08 min. Produced by Tangled Bank Studios, 2016.