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Intercalated BSc in Oral Biology

The intercalated BSc in Oral Biology is a course designed for dental and medical students who have completed the 2nd, 3rd or 4th year of their dental or medical education. The BSc will allow students to get first hand experience of conducting a research project and provide the opportunity to study the subject in greater depth than is possible in the BDS or MBBS courses.

We have been running a highly successful intercalated BSc in OB since 2003. The iBSc course has always been heavily focused towards various aspects of biomedical research, from learning research skills to actually conducting a supervised research project. In the past the course has attracted students from outside QM and some of them have done exceptionally well. In 2010 for instance, a medical student from the University of Dundee, while working on his project with Dr Simon Holmes, developed a novel method for quantifying facial trauma. This innovation was highly regarded, resulting in publications and acclamation from the Royal College Of Surgeons. As a result of his experience here this student decided to leave Dundee University and enrol at Barts & The London.

Another success story is that of a BDS student, who recently published her iBSc research work as a first author. Her contribution to another study is shortly to be submitted for publication.

The new BSc OB will be built on the success of our previous iBSc OB and will have an identical course structure. Almost all BSc OB core teaching will take place in the Blizard Institute at Whitechapel within the small seminar rooms Small Cloud, Large Cloud and Spikey, each with dedicated audio-visual facilities ideal for small group teaching. The basement of the Institute houses all the research facilities where our students will attend practical sessions and also carry out their research projects.

The course will consist of five modules, M1-M5. Modules M1-M3 will be taught, module M4 will be laboratory-based practicals and module M5 will be a research project.  Attendance will be required at every module. Modules M1-M4 will be worth 15 credits each and module 5 will be worth 60 credits.

Course Learning Outcomes

  • To acquire an in-depth knowledge of cell biology with special reference to work both this Institution and worldwide.
  • To interpret the principles of biochemistry, microbiology and molecular biology as applied to the oral cavity of man and other mammals. Students will also be strongly encouraged to develop an interest in and critical appraisal of, current research practices in these subjects.
  • To evaluate the structure and functions of the hard tissues found in the oral cavity of man and other mammals. Students will also gain knowledge of the clinical applications of biomaterials that are currently being investigated and those currently undergoing clinical trials.
  • To develop knowledge of the practical, analytical and computing skills necessary to carry out a research project.
  • To experience first-hand the process of a hypothesis driven research investigation in oral biology under the supervision of a staff member and to acquire the skills necessary for the interpretation and reporting of research data derived from such investigations.

Course structure and timing

  • Introduction to Oral Biology (M1) 15 credits Semester 1
  • Oral biochemistry, microbiology 15 credits Semester 1 and molecular biology (M2)
  • Hard tissue biology (M3) 15 credits Semester 1
  • Research Skills (M4) 15 credits Semester 1
  • Research Project (M5) 60 credits Semester 2

Brief description of course modules

Introduction to Oral biology (M1): Compulsory

Module convener: Dr Ahmad Waseem

This is a taught module and will be delivered through lectures and self-directed learning. The module will provide an in-depth knowledge of the cell biology of oral tissues in health and disease. Areas to be covered will include cell adhesion, apoptosis, cell cycle, angiogenesis, tissue engineering, oral implications of HIV and AIDS etc. Most of the contents of these lectures given by staff members will reflect their own research interests.

Oral biochemistry, microbiology and molecular biology (M2): Compulsory

Module convener: Dr Muy-Teck Teh

The module will provide an in-depth knowledge of biochemistry, microbiology and molecular biology with reference to the oral cavity. This will be taught through a combination of lectures and self-directed learning. The module will cover topics on bioinformatics, antibody biotechnology, gene expression and anti-microbial peptides. The contents of these lectures will be given mostly by staff based in the Blizard Institute.  

Hard Tissue Biology (M3): Compulsory

Module conveners: Dr Simon Rawlinson and Dr Saroash Shahid

This is a taught module and will be delivered through lectures and self-directed learning. The module will provide an in-depth knowledge of all the hard tissues found in the oral cavity. Areas to be covered include tooth morphology, tooth development, dentine, enamel, cell biology of bone and biomaterials. The contents of these lectures will be given by staff drawn from the Biophysical Sciences in Relation to Dentistry (Oral Growth and Development) based at the Mile End campus.

Research Skills (M4) Core

Module convener: Dr Hong Wan

In this module the student will be expected to acquire specific research skills by performing 8 different practicals supervised by staff and demonstrators. In addition, our students will also attend lectures with the iBSc Neuro-science group in which they will learn computing and research skills.

Research Project (M5) Core

Module convener: Dr Ahmad Waseem

In this module students will carry out a research project under the supervision of a SMD staff member. Every student will chose a research topic along with an assigned supervisor from a list provided to them by the course organiser. The students will spend 3-4 months working on their chosen projects and at the end submit a dissertation describing their research findings.

The list of projects for 2014-15 will be available once we know the number of students on the course. An BSc OB research project normally would ask a specific question within a much bigger hypothesis-driven research area. Some of the projects to which our previous iBSc OB students contributed and which resulted in publications in peer-reviewed journals are:

# iBSC students contributing to the publications.

Further information

To find out more about this course, please contact Dr. Waseem Ahmad (a.waseem@qmul.ac.uk).

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