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Unit information: Neurodegeneration: Symptoms, molecular mechanisms and therapies in 2013/14

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Unit name Neurodegeneration: Symptoms, molecular mechanisms and therapies
Unit code MEDIM0014
Credit points 20
Level of study M/7
Teaching block(s) Academic Year (weeks 1 - 52)
Unit director Dr. Allen-Birt
Open unit status Not open




School/department Bristol Medical School
Faculty Faculty of Health Sciences

Description including Unit Aims

This unit covers an in depth understanding of neuropathology, symptoms and possible treatments of selected neurodegenerative diseases including Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, Huntington’s disease, and multiple sclerosis. Alongside this, there is a comparison of pathology, symptoms and underlying mechanisms involved in these separate diseases in order to find unifying theories of disease.

The Aim of this Unit is to:

Provide a basic understanding of the underlying molecular mechanisms of certain neurodegenerative processes, and to use this to explain similarities and differences between the associated neurodegenerative disorders.

Specific aims:

  1. To explain the pathology of specific diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease, in terms of underlying mechanisms.
  2. To provide an insight into how the pathology of these diseases relates to the symptoms produced.
  3. Using the above information, to explain how drugs and other therapies may be useful in neurodegenerative diseases.
  4. To provide basic insight into how drugs may be designed, and the problems involved.
  5. To provide some basic training in writing a research grant.

Intended Learning Outcomes

At the end of the unit the student should be able to:

A. discuss the neuropathology, symptoms and molecular mechanisms of the major neurodegenerative diseases; B. discuss similarities of underlying molecular processes in different neurodegenerative diseases; C. discuss the importance of protein structure in the disease process; D. discuss the role of neurotrophic proteins in disease mechanisms and as therapies; E. discuss the types of possible therapies and how drugs may be designed for the treatment of neurodegenerative diseases; F. present the major theories of how neurodegenerative diseases occur, to other scientists; G. know how to apply for (small) grant funding.

Teaching Information

This unit is taught through lectures and tutorials; also complementary material is placed on Blackboard.

Assessment Information

This unit is assessed through a combination of a one hour online multiple choice exam (50%) and written assignment taking the form of a 3,000 word (approximately) grant application (50%). The multiple choice will allow assessment of some of the specifics of learning outcomes A to E. The grant application will allow assessment of learning outcomes F and G, as well as some of the specifics from A to E.

Reading and References

Selected relevant review papers from the literature. There are a number of topics within this unit. For each there is a recent review given. There are also additional notes given on Blackboard.