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Unit information: Molecular and Cellular Basis of Medicine in 2015/16

Please note: you are viewing unit and programme information for a past academic year. Please see the current academic year for up to date information.

Unit name Molecular and Cellular Basis of Medicine
Unit code MEDI11120
Credit points 0
Level of study C/4
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 4 (weeks 1-24)
Unit director Dr. Morgan
Open unit status Not open

Must be on the MB ChB Programme



School/department Health Sciences Faculty Office
Faculty Faculty of Health Sciences

Description including Unit Aims

The MCBoM Unit is subdivided into nine Elements; usually two Elements will be presented in parallel. Term 1 introduces general principles underlying normal body function and Term 2 introduces the molecular basis of disease. The course is presented using an integrated, inter-departmental, approach and its teachers are drawn from the Schools of Clinical & Comparative Anatomy, Biochemistry, Clinical Medicine, Cellular & Molecular Medicine, Physiology & Pharmacology.

Intended Learning Outcomes

  • Introduction to human anatomy appropriate to the early stages of medical training on which to build further understanding of anatomy that can be applied to clinical work including radiology.
  • Begin to acquire 3d knowledge of anatomy in order to inform safe clinical practise


  • How the structure of the living body may be investigated using various types of medical imaging
  • Early embryonic development particularly within a clinical context.
  • Molecular machinery of cells: proteins, biological membranes and the relationship between structure and function
  • Transmembrane concentration gradients, including respiration and energy transformations
  • Major biochemical transformations within cells relating to fatty acids and mitochondria
  • Main mechanisms of integration of body functions (endocrine and autonomic systems) and how these relate to homesostasis
  • Principle metabolic activities of muscle, adipose tissue, lover and the central nervous system and how these change physiologically in feeding, fasting, exercise and rest.
  • Role of intrinsic regulation by metabolites and of extrinsic regulation by glucagon, insulin, the catecholamines and glucocorticoids in these changes.


  • Basic qualitative and quantitative properties of cell receptors
  • How chemical messengers e.g. peripheral neurotransmitters and drugs interact with receptors and influence cellular activity
  • Give named examples of prototypic drugs acting upon particular receptors/receptor subtypes or upon enzymes
  • Appreciate the pharmacological basis for therapeutic intervention, providing examples from the autonomic and somatic nervous systems
  • To understand the molecular basis of genetics; the relationship between gene expression, nucleic acids and protein synthesis


  • The relationship between gene expression, nucleic acids and protein synthesis
  • The composition of the human genome and the relationship between mutations and disease
  • Recombinant DNA technology and its application to molecular medicine
  • Fundamental processes of inheritance and mutation and how these affect patients individually and in discrete populations
  • The three broad categories of genetic diseases
  • Principles of gene and chromosome analysis


  • Basic principles of nutrition
  • Energy provision within the cell and how this depends upon nutritional input
  • The role diet plays in continuous production of energy and synthesis of tissue components, upon which the maintenance of structure and function of the body depends
  • Factors which determine the chemical composition of a balanced diet, and the importance of energy balance in maintaining body weight
  • Appreciate the importance of diet in health promotion and disease prevention, in preventing complications associated with some medical treatments, and in treating some cases of endocrine abnormality and congenital abnormalities of metabolism.


  • How tissues respond to damage and the underlying mechanisms involved in healing and repair
  • Biology of organisms capable of causing disease in man (bacteria, viruses, protozoa, helminths and fungi): their evolution to use the human as a site for growth; infectivity and how knowledge this is used to help prevent and treat infectious disease.
  • How man adapts to prevent infection following damage
  • Non-specific events surrounding the inflammatory and the organisation and function of the immune system
  • Ways in which the immune system clears infectious material, and how the immune response may damaging the host (hypersensitivity and autoimmunity).
  • Basic biology of cancer, and how this determines our approach to patients.
  • Provide immediate life support
  • Provide cardiopulmonary resuscitation or direct other team members to carry out resuscitation
  • Basic first aid

Teaching Information

Lectures, tutorials, demonstrations, practical classes & workshops.

Assessment Information

MCBoM Paper 1:

Part A Biochemistry and Physiology - Best of Five (BOF) 25%

Part B Anatomy & Histology spot - Best of Five (BOF) 25%

MCBoM Paper 2:

Pharmacology, Biochemistry & Cellular & Molecular Medicine - Best of Five (BOF) 50%

Reading and References

Library link