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Molecular biology and pathogensis (ICM7093)

Module convener:            

Dr Olivier Marches,

Other Key Staff:              

Professor Lucinda Hall,

Professor Dan Pennington (Host immune response),

This module offers the student teaching and workshops covering the principles of molecular biology, the biology of bacteria, and explores the use of current molecular techniques in the research and diagnosis of infectious disease. The human immune system is studied followed by a study of the interaction of micro-organisms with the host immune system.

The module aims to provide:

  • An understanding of bacterial metabolism and physiology.
  • An understanding of bacterial genetics and gene regulation
  • An understanding of current molecular biology techniques; how and why they are used within research and diagnostic laboratories.
  • An understanding of bacterial pathogenesis
  • A thorough grounding in human immunology.
  • An understanding of the interaction between the host immune response and microorganisms in health and disease.

At the end of this module students will have a knowledge and understanding of:

  • bacterial structure and function and the relevance to the diagnostic laboratory.
  • bacterial genetics and gene regulation.
  • bacterial pathogenesis
  • human immunology.
  • molecular techniques applicable to bacterial diagnostics

At the end of this module students will have intellectual skills which will enable them to:

  • Explain current molecular biology techniques used in diagnostic and research laboratories and evaluate new developments in this field for use in clinical microbiology.
  • Describe the design, operation and performance of a range of molecular investigations used in the detection and management of microbial infections.
  • Evaluate results from molecular tests to assist with diagnosis and advice on therapy.
  • Critically read research articles and evaluate their conclusions.
  • At the end of this module students will have the following transferable skills and will be able to:
  • Work safely in a containment level 2 laboratory with human samples and pathogens
  • Understand appropriate quality management systems
  • Apply and interpret DNA-based methodologies appropriately in different contexts.

At the end of this module students will have the following practical skills and will be able to:

  • Conduct a suitable range of diagnostic, investigative or monitoring procedures with due care for the safety of self and others.
  • Interpret results from PCR and DNA sequence determination
  • Explore DNA sequence databases, compare sequences, and interpret results obtained
  • demonstrate the ability to apply the principles of internal quality control and external quality assessment and draw conclusions about assay performance
  • perform within the sphere of personal competence and whilst conducting diagnostic, investigative or monitoring procedures demonstrate due care for the safety of self and others.

Students are expected to develop a strong basic background from text books but this must be supplemented by research in current scientific literature.

Suggested background texts include:
W. Dale S. F. Park : Molecular Genetics of Bacteria
 Madigan et al: Brock Biology of Microorganisms,
Prescott, Harley and Klein's Microbiology

Pier et al: Immunology, infection and immunity
Janeway et al: Immunobiology. The immune system in health and disease
Salyers and Whitt: Bacterial pathogenesis a molecular approach.

Relevant reviews from journals such as Trends and Current Opinion series

Relevant recent primary research articles

Structured questions/MCQ

Type of assessment: Coursework
Duration: 40 questions
Percentage weighting in module: 60%

Abstract writing

Type of assessment: Coursework
Duration: 2 hours
Percentage weighting in module: 40%


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