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

Postgraduate Course: Precision Oncology II: Cancer Drug Discovery and Clinical Application (BIME11185)

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 AvailabilityNot available to visiting students
SCQF Credits10 ECTS Credits5
SummaryThis course will provide the clinical context to the learning in the earlier 4 core blocks. It will reinforce the importance of how molecular biology underpins the clinical development of a novel drug or biomarker. Students will study several novel classes of drugs from 'bench-to-bedside' including facets of drug development, preclinical and clinical assessment plus clinical applications. In addition, they will gain an understanding of modern clinical trial design and its challenges. This course aims to inspire the students with recent success stories from the university and partners, and equip them with skills in the application of molecular oncology and precision medicine.
Course description Academic description
The development, assessment (in preclinical model and clinical trials) and clinical application of novel agents is the ultimate goal of a 'bench-to-bedside' approach to molecular oncology and precision medicine. Students will therefore look at every stage of this process using recent examples of new drugs/biologics and 'in-development' approaches. Both success stories and failures will be used as examples to facilitate learning.

Outline content
The course will begin by providing an insight into methodologies used to design drugs that act on a specific, known target, and how drug screens are designed and implemented. Given the presence of the phenotypic screening unit in Edinburgh, phenotypic screens will be a focus. The utility of pre-clinical evaluation and the pipelines from the laboratory to the clinic will also be covered using stories from local experts and collaborators. Students will be given an overview of phase 1 clinical trial design, which will draw on their teaching in statistics and provide further training regarding power calculations. There will also be discussions on how we assess a patients response to therapy.

Student Learning Experience
Students will learn from both research-scientists and academic and clinical healthcare professionals. The course is delivered online and is divided into five sessions, each lasting a week. Teaching sessions will be composed of written materials and video presentations, accompanied by guided reading elements (in the form of links to journal articles) as well as independent literature searches. There will also be video presentations or interviews with patients where possible.

Students will put their learning into practice by preparing a Dragons Den style pitch to pharma and developing their own mini clinical trial proposal, involving a drug or biomarker (or both) of their choice.

Formative peer and teacher-led feedback will be given throughout the course through the discussion boards, and summative assessment feedback will be provided at the end of the course.
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:  None
Course Start Block 5 (Sem 2) and beyond
Course Start Date 01/05/2023
Timetable Timetable
Learning and Teaching activities (Further Info) Total Hours: 100 ( Seminar/Tutorial Hours 15, Online Activities 20, Programme Level Learning and Teaching Hours 2, Directed Learning and Independent Learning Hours 63 )
Assessment (Further Info) Written Exam 0 %, Coursework 100 %, Practical Exam 0 %
Additional Information (Assessment) In-course assessment -100%

Written 60%
Online 40%

For example:
- Students present a dragons den style pitch to pharma of a new target, biomarker or drug. 30%.
- Discussion board 10%
- Students will write a mini-phase I clinical trial or evaluate a clinical trial proposal. 60%
Feedback Formative assessment consists of discussions around novel targets, drugs or biomarkers to pitch to pharma. This is conducted in an open discussion forum for all students to contribute to and provides an opportunity to facilitate critical thinking and for students to understand the key expectation before submission.

Summative assessment consists of written submission (worth 60% of the total mark), and an online element worth 40. In both cases, comprehensive written feedback is provided individually with 15 working days of the assessment deadline. Students are expected to reflect on their feedback, to seek additional clarification if appropriate.

Any student can post questions about the assignment and a response will be posted on the discussion board by the course tutor within 3 working days.
No Exam Information
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. Demonstrate a critical understanding of the principles, theories and concepts behind modern drug development and clinical trial design.
  2. Develop an in depth understanding of the pathways by which early laboratory observations can progress to phase I clinical trials.
  3. Communicate, with peers from a range of audiences, regarding the critical evaluation of clinical trial development.
Reading List
Much of the focus of this course will be driven through student engagement. Resources will be provided as a starting point from which it is expected that students will begin to develop their own reading lists and share this information with others.
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills At the end of this course students will be able to;

- Demonstrate an in depth understanding of the pipelines of drug discovery from the laboratory to the clinic.

- Demonstrate a critical appreciation of the complexities of clinical trial design and assessment of patient response.

- Synthesise and communicate the scientific challenge of translating molecular cancer research to improved patient outcome.

We hope this final course of Year 1 will assimilate all the learning from the year to date and allow them to translate their learning from the laboratory to the clinic.
Special Arrangements This course will be taught entirely by distance learning, using the virtual learning environment of Learn as the delivery platform. Course materials are protected by a secure username and password. These access details are made available to registered users only.
KeywordsDrug Discovery,Clinical Trial Design,Ethics,Biomarker discovery,drug response
Course organiserDr Kathryn Ball
Tel: (0131) 777 3560
Course secretaryMs Deborah Walker
Tel: (0131 6)51 1513
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