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DRPS : Course Catalogue : School of Biomedical Sciences : Biomedical Sciences

Undergraduate Course: Neurodegeneration, obesity and cancer: genetics and beyond (BIME10032)

Course Outline
SchoolSchool of Biomedical Sciences CollegeCollege of Medicine and Veterinary Medicine
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 10 (Year 4 Undergraduate) AvailabilityAvailable to all students
SCQF Credits20 ECTS Credits10
SummaryIn modern societies, the increase in life expectancy is accompanied by an increased risk of aging-associated diseases such as obesity, cancer and neurodegenerative disorders. These diseases pose enormous challenges in terms of life quality and economic burden so that it has become an urgent need for societies to address these health concerns. In an attempt to prevent or effectively treat these disorders, research interest in defining the molecular mechanisms underlying these diseases has been particularly intense. We will consider how studies on a variety of animal models have contributed to our growing understanding of the molecular basis of these diseases. In presenting the cellular processes that are disrupted in neurodegenerative disorders, obesity and cancer, particular emphasis will be given to molecular commonalities existing between these diseases, which, at a first glance, seem to have very little in common. We will also critically evaluate the advantages and pitfalls of every model system and the importance of using a variety of different models to gain a thorough understanding of the molecular mechanism underlying the pathogenesis of a given disease. This course will also highlight how the generation of disease models has made possible high-throughput genetic screens and large-scale proteomic and transcriptomic profiling both in health and disease states. Finally, we will discuss how computational analysis and experimental validation of these large data sets can lead to the identification of a large number of new disease-related genes and, possibly, to the development of innovative diagnostic and therapeutic approaches.
Course description The course includes introductory lectures on the major cellular processes disrupted in cancer, neurodegenerative disorders and obesity. Particular emphasis will be given to mitochondria dynamics and RNA metabolism as emerging evidence indicate that these processes are common themes in the pathogenesis of these apparently divergent diseases. Among the neurodegenerative disorders, the role of animal models in prion diseases and in the motor neuron disease spinal muscular atrophy will be presented and critically evaluated. We will consider how a combination of computational analysis together with large-scale genetic and proteomic approaches on experimental models can streamline the identification of new genes and cellular processes involved in the pathogenesis of these diseases.
The course will have an ICA component. Students will be asked to outline an experimental approach to elucidate the role of a gene in a specific human disease. As a starting point, preliminary information on the gene and a few specific articles will be provided to the students. Each student will be required to give a 20 min presentation on this experimental outline in front of a committee of two lecturers.
Staff members involved in the teaching are: Dr. Andrew Gill, Prof. Tom Gillingwater, Dr. Mandy Jackson, Dr. Giusy Pennetta and Dr. Tom Wishart.
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Co-requisites
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements None
Additional Costs None
Information for Visiting Students
Pre-requisitesN/A
Course Delivery Information
Academic year 2014/15, Not available to visiting students (SS1) Quota:  None
Course Start Semester 1
Timetable Timetable
Learning and Teaching activities (Further Info) Total Hours: 200 ( Lecture Hours 38, Feedback/Feedforward Hours 1, Summative Assessment Hours 3, Programme Level Learning and Teaching Hours 4, Directed Learning and Independent Learning Hours 154 )
Assessment (Further Info) Written Exam 70 %, Coursework 30 %, Practical Exam 0 %
Additional Information (Assessment) 30% in-course assessment and 70% degree examination
Feedback Not entered
Exam Information
Exam Diet Paper Name Hours & Minutes
Main Exam Diet S1 (December)Neurodegeneration, obesity and cancer: genetics and beyond2:00
Learning Outcomes
Have an understanding of different ways to generate animal models of human diseases
Be aware of the advantages and disadvantages of different models
Have knowledge of how larger animals can be used to model cancer, diabetes and neurodegeneration
Have an understanding of the complex patho-mechanism underlying prion diseases
Be aware of how prion-like mechanisms may be responsible for the pathogenesis of other more common neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer┐s and Parkinson┐s diseases
Be aware of how modelling neurodegenerative diseases has implicated microRNAs and mitochondria dynamics in nerve cell dysfunction and degeneration
Have knowledge of how models of neurodegeneration, cancer and diabetes have revealed a role for altered mitochondrial function and RNA metabolism in the disease process
Have an appreciation of how neurodegeneration, cancer and diabetes can share similar disrupted cellular mechanisms
Be aware of the contribution of large scale screens in the search for new disease related genes and potential biomarkers of disease progression
Be able to discuss how modelling complex human diseases provides a better understanding of disease pathogenesis
Be able to critically evaluate the contribution of animal models to the elucidation of the pathogenesis of complex human diseases
Be able to formulate an experimental plan to model a human disease and study the importance of a cellular pathway in disease pathogenesis



Reading List
None
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills Not entered
KeywordsAnimal models, neurodegeneration, obesity, cancer, genetics
Contacts
Course organiserDr Giuseppa Pennetta
Tel: (0131 6)51 3201
Email: G.Pennetta@ed.ac.uk
Course secretaryMs Lisa Ketchion
Tel: (0131 6)51 1629
Email: Lisa.Ketchion@ed.ac.uk
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