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Intercalated BSc in Experimental Pathology

Pathology can be described as the study of disease. To understand the disease state, it is essential to understand the normal processes of the body. This course offers areas of learning in specific fields of pathology covering some of the major afflictions of the modern world. This includes cardiovascular disease, inflammatory diseases, neurodegenerative diseases, cancer, and haematological pathologies. A module on materials used to alleviate diseases of this type is also on offer. The course emphasises the importance of research and experimentation for the advancement of our understanding of pathological disorders. Insights are given into how the latest developments in technology can be utilised for the benefit of the patient. Students will gain an in-depth grounding in the science behind pathology and gain practical skills in experimentation and presentation on completion of the course.

A research project allows students to construct and develop novel ideas. They also promote training in how to plan and organise a programme of work over a six month time period. The final report will require appraisal and evaluation of experimental procedure and data, the construction of new hypotheses and their subsequent defence and justification.

During the course students will undertake 4 of the 6 course units on offer. These are assessed by written examinations and in three of the modules, course work as well. In semester one you will take the following modules:

  • Experimental Neuropathology
  • Cardiovascular Pathophysiology

You will also start a research project, which will be original research and will normally involve experimental work in the laboratory or measurements on volunteers undergoing clinical investigation. You will be asked to choose from a broad selection of clinical and scientific areas of research. However, if you have a specific interest outside these general areas, it is possible, subject to consultation with a potential supervisor and the course organiser, to devise a project related to this. After Christmas you will continue with your project and study two of the remaining taught units:

  • Inflammation and Specialist Topics in Pathology OR Science of Biocompatibility OR Experimental Haematology
  • Cancer Biology

Additionally, there are lectures to support the experimental work in the Autumn term (Core Laboratory methods, Statistics), and for scientific writing in the Spring term.

Summary for 2015/16 with unit values and approximate dates

Choose 4 taught units as follows:

  • Experimental Neuropathology (15 unit - Autumn term)
  • Cardiovascular Pathophysiology (15 unit - Autumn term)
  • Cancer Biology (15 unit - Spring term)
  • EITHER Inflammation and Special Topics in Pathology (15 unit - Spring term)
  • OR Science of Biocompatibility (15 unit - Spring term)
  • OR Experimental Haematology (15 unit - Spring term)

Plus

  • Project - 1 chosen from approx, 20 alternatives (60 units - Autumn and spring term)

NB: Students can only study one of the following modules 'Inflammation and Specialist Topics in Pathology", "Science of Biocompatibility", "Experimental Haematology ".

Summary of Course Units

Cancer Biology (ICM6020)

Course Organiser: Dr Sarah-Anne Martin

This is a taught module delivered by lectures. The module starts with the definition of neoplasia and will describe the macro and micro appearance of a range of specific tumours and current ideas on the molecular and genetic basis of their pathogenesis. The transformation from normal to malignant tissue will be covered together with the manner in which tumours grow and spread. The course will end with an overview of tumour diagnosis and treatment, the latter including pharmacological, surgical and radiotherapeutic regimens.

Experimental Neuropathology (ICM6021)

Course Organiser: Dr Jurgen Groet

This is a taught module delivered through lectures. It will cover laboratory techniques designed to diagnose and model neuropathological diseases. This covers techniques such as PCR, imaging and animal models. The biology of neural cells will be covered such as demyelination, axonal transport, cell death pathways and stem cell replacement. Clinical aspects include trauma, Alzheimer’s Disease, Parkinson's Disease, motor neuron disease, Pick's disease and tauopathies.

Inflammation and Special Topics in Pathology (ICM6022)

Course Organisers: Dr Diane Cooper/ Dr Lucy Norling

This is a taught module delivered by lectures. The content includes the mechanisms of the inflammatory response, including how the response is initiated, what molecules drive this process and which cell types are involved. The role of inflammation in several pathologies including diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, cancer, inflammatory bowel disease and transplant rejection are covered. Lectures are given on the use of anti-inflammatory therapeutic agents (NSAIDs, steroids and biological therapies) and their mechanisms of action. Students will be able to describe experimental models used to investigate both the mechanisms of inflammation and the development of new therapeutic drugs. Histological descriptions are illustrated by clinical pathologists of the genito-urinary tract, the gastrointestinal tract, as well as aging and oncogene expression including any inflammation at sites of disease.

Cardiovascular Pathophysiology (ICM6023)

Course Organiser: Professor Steve Greenwald

This is a taught module delivered by lectures. This module covers normal development of the cardiovascular system in terms of the changing demands due to growth and ageing. This approach is extended to elucidate the pathogenesis of cardiovascular disease in terms of the response of cells in the vascular wall to changes in mechanical load such as increased blood pressure or reduced flow. This module integrates the model of vascular pathology with epidemiological factors such as fetal malnutrition, which affect vessel development in early life and which are linked to an increased incidence of vascular disease in middle age. Also covered is the diagnosis and treatment of these problems, allowing students to gain an understanding of non-invasive measurement techniques to monitor the development of abnormal blood vessel properties.

Experimental Haematology (ICM6025)

Course Organisers: Prof. Adrian Newland, Dr Paul Allen

This will be a taught module delivered through lectures. Subject matter will include normal haemopoiesis, the achievement of haemostasis and the diseases associated with de-regulated haemostasis. The student will go on to acquire an associated knowledge of haemorrhagic and thrombotic disorders. Key elements of red cell abnormalities including the thalassaemias, sickle cell disease and certain anaemias e.g. Diamond Blackfan, are covered in-depth. The science and clinical aspects of blood transfusion will be covered. The module will encompass inherited bone marrow failures illustrated by lectures on monogenic disorders associated with aplastic anaemia such as Fanconi anaemia and dyskeratosis congenita. Progress in the clinical resolution of these diseases is covered by clinical members of faculty. The latest in genetics, the hereditary aspects of some of these diseases, and the molecular diagnosis of haematological disorders is taught by our scientific community.

Advanced Biocompatibility Science (MAT7312)

Course Organiser: Dr Karin Hing

This module will provide a comprehensive understanding of the concepts related to and underpinning biocompatibility. It will cover topics including proteins and protein adsorption, biomaterial- cell, blood and tissue interactions, inflammation, wound healing, foreign body response, toxicity, hypersensitivity and infection.

The pre-clinical testing of biomaterials will be considered with respect to chemical exchange and degradation, cell response (proliferation vs differentiation), evaluation of material compatibility, evaluation of device functionality (biomechanics, remodelling/adaptation). Clinical trials and regulatory approval will also be discussed.

Experimental Project (ICM6024)

Course Organiser: Dr Jurgen Groet

The project will normally be some original research which is expected to occupy at least half of the time of the course. It will normally involve experimental work or measurements on volunteers undergoing clinical investigation and is presented as a written report (not exceeding 8000 words). The report is assessed by internal examiners and forms the basis of student vivas by our external examiners. A diverse range of projects, covering many aspects of pathology, are available.

Further information

For more information contact the course director, Dr Jurgen Groet (j.groet@qmul.ac.uk), Dr Paul Allen (p.d.allen@qmul.ac.uk) or Professor Steve Greenwald (s.e.greenwald@qmul.ac.uk).

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