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DRPS : Course Catalogue : Deanery of Biomedical Sciences : Biomedical Sciences

Undergraduate Course: Cancer Biology and Medicine (BIME10030)

Course Outline
SchoolDeanery of Biomedical Sciences CollegeCollege of Medicine and Veterinary Medicine
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 10 (Year 4 Undergraduate) AvailabilityNot available to visiting students
SCQF Credits20 ECTS Credits10
SummaryThis course is suitable for both biomedical sciences students and intercalating medical students. It is taught by an integrated team of cancer research scientists and clinical academics.

Course description The course will consider the genetic, molecular and cell biological processes involved in susceptibility to cancer and in the initiation and progression of the disease and show how this knowledge is being translated into improved cancer therapies. The Hallmarks and Emerging Hallmarks of Cancer will be discussed. The requirement for multiple genetic changes in the development of a metastatic cancer will be illustrated and the role of tumour suppressor genes and oncogenes will be described. The role of DNA repair in preventing genome instability will be discussed and some inherited DNA repair deficiency/ cancer susceptibility syndromes will be described. Alterations in cell cycle control, proliferative cell signalling, cell death and metabolic pathways in cancer cells will all be covered. Conventional surgical, radiotherapeutic and chemotherapeutic cancer treatments will be considered and new rational therapies that take into account both individual and cancer biodiversity will be discussed and illustrated for a number of major cancers: breast, ovarian, colorectal, lung, kidney and melanoma. Genetic profiling of cancers, identification of novel therapeutic targets, cancer drug development and clinical trials of novel cancer therapies will all be considered.

The course will consist of lectures, with some teacher-led discussions and non-assessed presentations by students working in groups. Before any student oral presentations there will be a feedback session on an assessed exercise where individual students will be asked to prepare and submit a 5-slide PowerPoint presentation on an early topic from the course. A small group tutorial session will show how an important alteration in cancer metabolism described in the lectures can be detected by Mass Spectrometry. In a second tutorial we will discuss how the aim of Cancer Research UK to ┬┐beat cancer sooner┬┐ might be achieved. A computer lab practical will give students the opportunity to see how cancer bioinformatics is used to identify the key cancer driver mutations in specific cancers and so direct targeted therapies.
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Co-requisites
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements None
Course Delivery Information
Academic year 2022/23, Not available to visiting students (SS1) Quota:  29
Course Start Semester 1
Timetable Timetable
Learning and Teaching activities (Further Info) Total Hours: 200 ( Lecture Hours 37, Seminar/Tutorial Hours 4, Supervised Practical/Workshop/Studio Hours 2, Feedback/Feedforward Hours 2, Summative Assessment Hours 4, Revision Session Hours 2, Programme Level Learning and Teaching Hours 4, Directed Learning and Independent Learning Hours 145 )
Assessment (Further Info) Written Exam 60 %, Coursework 40 %, Practical Exam 0 %
Additional Information (Assessment) In course 40% (1 essay 30%; 1 Powerpoint presentation [submitted electronically not presented orally] 10%)
Exam 60%
Feedback There will be a feedback session after Assessment 1 (PowerPoint presentation) and Assessment 2 (Essay). Written feedback will also be provided on both Assessments. Verbal feedback will also be given after each Group Presentation.
Exam Information
Exam Diet Paper Name Hours & Minutes
Main Exam Diet S1 (December)1:30
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. Demonstrate knowledge of how different genetic, molecular and cell biological processes are involved in susceptibility, initiation and progression of cancer, and of cancer therapy.
  2. Develop and evidence a critical understanding of how the processes involved in cancer interplay with therapy, and the obstacles and opportunities this presents for better treatment.
  3. Acquire an understanding, via observation and participation, of how technical and bioinformatics approaches are used in cancer research.
  4. Interpret a key research paper on a specialist cancer cell biology topic, communicating the identified rationale, finding(s) and conclusions in a series of slides suitable for a presentation.
  5. Collaborate with peers to critically review the key pathways underpinning cancer cell metastasis and present these findings orally to the peer group
Reading List
The Biology of Cancer by RA Weinberg is very good for much of the non-medical material covered. Second Edition, 2014, ISBN 978-0-8153-4220-5. First Edition, 2007, ISBN 0-8153-4076-1 is still good. There are copies of both in the Reserve Section of the Main Library.

There is a separate reading list for each topic. The papers are all available as pdfs on Learn
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills Not entered
Course organiserDr Simon Wilkinson
Course secretaryMiss Sam Fisher
Tel: (0131 6)50 3160
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