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, neurodegenerative diseases and cancer. Modules on materials used to alleviate diseases, stem cells and personalised medicine are 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 number of the modules, course work as well. In semester one you will take the following compulsory modules:
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 the remaining compulsory module:
The last module is optional and there are 3 choices:
Additionally, there are lectures to support the experimental work in the Autumn term (Core Laboratory methods, Statistics), and for scientific writing.
Choose 4 taught units as follows:
NB: Students can only study one of the following modules "Stem Cells and Regenerative Medicine", "Biocompatibility", "Molecular Basis of Personalised Medicine".
Module 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.
Module Organiser: Prof Joanne Martin / 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.
Module 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.
Module Organisers: Prof. Kristin Braun/ Dr Jürgen Groet
This is a taught module which provides a comprehensive overview and foundation in stem cell biology, inlcuding applications in regenerative medicine. The module will cover topics including: developmental origin of stem cells, comparing/contrasting different types of stem cells, biological regulation of stem cells and tissue-specific functions. The module also will cover fundamental principles of tissue engineering, cellular reprogramming (induced pluripotent stem cells) and Genome Engineering (CRISPR-Cas9).
Module Organisers: Dr Angus Cameron / Dr Paulo Baptista-Ribeiro
This module will build on the basic information on the pathological processes and cancer biology to provide and in-depth analysis of the tools available to analyse heterogeneity in disease (gene expression arrays, SNP analysis, next generation sequencing), and how these can be used to stratify disease and then exploited to develop individualised treatment. It will examine strategies being developed to refine treatment programmes and also investigate how such analysis can be used to predict risk and so develop preventive strategies.
Module 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.
Module Organiser: Dr Jürgen 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 our internal or external examiners and forms the basis of student vivas by our external examiners. A diverse range of projects, covering many aspects of pathology, are available.
I was drawn to the Experimental Pathology course as it provided an in-depth, well-rounded understanding of the underlying mechanisms that drive a broad range of major diseases.
The research project was a particular highlight. It gave me a hands-on opportunity to work on a lab-based project, with the perfect balance of autonomy and supervision. Developing my research and critical thinking skills have been invaluable for my career going forward.
Dr Katherine Leung, Intercalated BSc Experimental Pathology (2015/16)
For more information contact the course director, Dr Jürgen Groet (firstname.lastname@example.org) or Professor Steve Greenwald (email@example.com).