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

Postgraduate Course: Fundamentals of cancer with focus on infectious causes (BIME11161)

Course Outline
SchoolDeanery of Biomedical Sciences CollegeCollege of Medicine and Veterinary Medicine
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 11 (Postgraduate)
Course typeOnline Distance Learning AvailabilityAvailable to all students
SCQF Credits10 ECTS Credits5
SummaryInfection is a major cause of cancer worldwide. Indeed, viruses are associated with almost 20% of human cancers, which approximates to about 2 million new cases annually. Human papillomavirus (HPV), a focus of this course, is one of the primary causes of infection attributable cancer, with an estimated 8 cases per 100,000 person years.

All cancers arise when a regular cell becomes a rebel, hijacking the processes required for normal cell function and controlled cell growth, to eventually invade surrounding tissue and spread throughout the organism. This process is driven by a number of changes at the genetic, epigenetic and protein level. Understanding these changes, how they are induced by oncogenic viruses, and how they can be exploited to eliminate rebel cells, is essential for cancer treatment and prevention.

This integrated course will cover all aspects of cancer from initiation by viruses, oncogenes and tumour suppressor genes, tumour growth and metastasis, drug development, patient treatment, and prevention at a population level.
No matter what perspective the student brings, if they are a laboratory researcher, a clinician, a clinical trialist or a population based researcher, they will learn more about cancer biology.
Course description This SCQF Level 11 distance-learning course is designed to promote a deep understanding of all aspects of infection-driven cancer including detection and prevention, biomarkers and diagnosis, therapeutic targets, drug discovery and clinical trials.

There will be a strong emphasis on the use of cutting edge methodology and multi-disciplinary approaches to understand and combat this highly complex disease. The course will be delivered using the online Blackboard virtual learning environment with a combination of course materials, discussion boards and blogs.

Course materials will cover
1. Oncogenes, tumour suppressor genes and viral initiation of cancer,
2. The hallmarks of cancer,
3. Cancer at single cell resolution,
4. Drug development and precision oncology,
5. Cancer prevention - including socioeconomic influences.

The journey of a cervical cancer patient will be included within the course materials to bring together the various aspects of the course and provide students with an authentic learning experience. In this journey, students will be exposed to cancer prevention through vaccination, cancer screening, mechanisms of HPV-driven cancer, a patients perspective on cancer, treatment stratification and drug development.
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Co-requisites
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements None
Information for Visiting Students
High Demand Course? Yes
Course Delivery Information
Not being delivered
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. Demonstrate an in-depth understanding of the complexities of tumour initiation/growth and how viruses affect this process.
  2. Demonstrate a critical appreciation of the complexities of cancer epidemiology within the population and at an individual level.
  3. Synthesise and communicate the scientific challenge of cancer research, with identification of contemporary areas of advancement.
Reading List
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills The graduate will acquire skills in critical thinking, independent learning, communication, data analysis.
Keywordscancer biology,infectious diseases,oncology,population health,cervical cancer,HPV,papillomavirus
Course organiserDr Lesley Stark
Tel: (0131) 332 2471
Course secretaryMrs Dan Yan
Tel: (131 6)515470
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