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Unit information: Molecular basis of disease in 2015/16

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Unit name Molecular basis of disease
Unit code SOCS30003
Credit points 20
Level of study H/6
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 4 (weeks 1-24)
Unit director Professor. Welsh
Open unit status Not open




School/department Bristol Medical School
Faculty Faculty of Health Sciences


This unit will address the biochemistry and molecular genetics of disease processes. Understanding the pathways that contribute to aberrant cellular and physiological processes will add to the body of knowledge of the underlying mechanisms of disease, thus enabling identification of drug targets for treating disease or identification of novel biomarkers of disease. The students will be introduced to concept of drug discovery and how basic scientific innovation can be translated to the improvements in clinical care. The topics that this unit will cover include the molecular basis of lung disease, molecular basis of cancer, diseases of the renal system and cardiovascular medicine.

The unit aims to: (i) Introduce students to receptor signalling, intracellular pathways and gene expression; (ii) Provide students with fundamental knowledge on the molecular basis of lung disease; (iii) Provide students with fundamental knowledge on the molecular basis of cancer, with a focus on breast and prostate cancer; (iv) Introduce students to drug discovery and illustrate how basic laboratory research can be translated to the bedside; (v) Provide students with knowledge on the current research in renal medicine, including tubular disease, glomerular disease, paediatric renal medicine and diabetic neuropathy; (vi) Provide students with knowledge on clinical problems in cardiovascular medicine such as coronary heart disease, hypertension, vascular diseases and paediatric heart diseases.

Intended learning outcomes

At the end of this unit the student should be able to: (i) relate receptor signalling to intracellular signal transduction and its effects on cell function (ii) describe the molecular basis of lung disease and specific types of cancer (iii) describe the molecular basis of key renal disorders and discuss the current research advances in this area (iv) describe the clinical problems in key cardiovascular diseases and to discuss current and emerging therapeutics for these conditions

Teaching details

This unit is taught through lectures and tutorials. Independent study: students are expected to study the recommended literature.

Assessment Details

The unit will be assessed through two summative examinations in May/June. In the first 1-hour examination (40%), students will be expected to answer a range of multiple-choice questions on the content of the unit. In the second 2-hour examination (60%), students will be expected to answer two essay questions from a choice of 5, which will assess their knowledge and critical understanding of the field, and their ability to gather information from the primary scientific literature.

Reading and References

Selected relevant review papers from the literature