Barts and The London School of Medicine and Dentistry

Intercalated BMedSci in Molecular Medicine

Course Suspended

The Practice of Medicine is changing, and both Hospital Doctors and General Practitioners require an understanding of scientific and clinical topics previously considered to be of benefit only to researchers.

The BMedSci Molecular Medicine course aims to respond to these changes by identifying the importance of the biosciences to clinical medicine and providing an awareness and competence in the use of modern biomedical technologies. Most BMedSci core teaching takes place in the lecture rooms and laboratories in 51/53 Bart's Close. There are dedicated teaching rooms and an adjoining laboratory with good facilities where the core module laboratory work takes place.

Core teaching covers molecular biology, laboratory methods, ethics, immunology and imaging. Students are encouraged to use information methods such as the Internet for their studies. Following the New Year option module teaching starts which in turn is followed by a research project. These aspects are done in various research laboratories on all campuses.

In 2013/14 option modules including the long established courses on Neuroendocrinology, Immunology, Inflammation Science, Clinical Pharmacology and a new option in Medical Genetics were available to students as well as Forensic Medical Sciences.

Structure and timing

Summary of course units

Students studying for the BMedSci programme will complete a 45-credit core module, a 30-credit taught option module which the students can choose and a 45-credit intercalated research project. Specific guidance on the selection of option modules that match research projects will be provided to students by tutors and the programme director.

Core Module: Mid-September to Mid December 2014 (45 credits) Concludes with a written exam.

In the core module, BMedSci students will focus on developing key concepts and research methods and analysis for understanding molecular mechanisms in disease.

The following topics will be covered in the core module, which is split into 4 units:

  • Bioanalytical principles and techniques
  • Cutting edge technologies used in medical research such as confocal microscopy, flow cytometry and mass spectrometry
  • CT, PET and MRI imaging technologies and applications
  • Bioinformatics
  • Statistics for research
  • Molecular Biology – principles and techniques such as DNA structure and function, protein prediction, modelling and analysis, human genomics, polymerase chain reaction and sequencing.
  • Immunology – innate and adaptive immune responses and disease, tolerance, autoimmunity, allergy
  • Ethics and Law applied to Medical Research – includes a historical perspective, use of animals, human subjects and the Declaration of Helsinki and the working of ethics committees.

Option Module: Beginning of January – Beginning of February 2015 (30 credits)

Options include medical genetics, neuroendocrinology, immunology, inflammation science, forensic medical science and clinical pharmacology.  This is a 4 week taught course run by Research Centres within the Wiliam Harvey where students will gain an insight into the world of cutting-edge research in preparation for their own research project.

Project module: Beginning of February – End of May 2015 (45 credits)

This is the final phase of the course that allows students to experience the world of medical research for themselves. The project will normally be a piece of original research, closely mentored and supervised by experts in the field. It is expected to occupy at least 12 weeks duration. Students become an integral part of an existing research team and many have the opportunity to publish their work or present at a national or international scientific conference. The results of the project will be presented as a written report not exceeding 6000 words and an oral presentation. The report is assessed and marked by internal examiners and reviewed by external examiners.

Examination Period: End of May 2015 written exam – End of June 2015 presentations and vivas

Summary of course units

Required Units

MM1/MT1. Core course unit 1 - Molecular Medicine

Course Organiser: Prof. Patricia Munroe

The aim of this module is to teach the rapidly advancing field of molecular medicine. This will include the topics of chromosome structure, gene structure and expression. Particular emphasis will be placed on the use of molecular techniques for the analysis of clinical problems such as cardiovascular disease and pre-natal diagnosis. There are a number of laboratory practicals to introduce DNA technologies, etc.

MM2/MT2. Core course unit 2 - Biosciences Techniques & Biomedical Informatics

Course Organiser: Prof. Patricia Munroe

This module will explore fundamental concepts and methods in the Biosciences, from the dual perspective of the bioanalytical principles and techniques employed and the related methods of statistics and information technology used in data acquisition, statistical analysis and interpretation. Laboratory and computing practicals link with various aspects of the course. Emphasis will be placed on developing informatics and other computing skills. Additionally, it will be concerned with issues and skills employed in assessing, gathering and communicating biomedical information.
The overall aim is to build a framework of concepts, methods and practical skills, through a balance of teaching and practical work, which will also be applicable directly to the conduct and assessment of ensuing project work.

MM3. Immunology

Course Organiser: Prof. Rizgar Mageed

The aim of this module is to teach the current advances in immunology, with particular reference to the role of immunology in molecular medicine and the role of modern immunology in the clinic. The objectives will include understanding subjects such as cytokine immunotherapy, imaging and tumour destruction with monoclonal antibodies, antibody immunotherapy and gene transfer to correct immunodeficiencies.

MM4. Imaging Science & Ethics

  • Imaging Science
    Course Organiser: Dr Anju Sahdev
    By the end of the course students should be able to understand the principles used in interpreting the following images: conventional X-ray film, computed tomographic scanning, ultrasound scanning, magnetic resonance imaging and radionuclide imaging. They will have seen each of the above techniques undertaken on patients in clinical practice and will understand the following terms in the context of test interpretation: sensitivity, specificity, predictive value and ROC (receiver - operating characteristic) analysis. Finally, they will have considered the specific elements that go into decision analysis in the framework of imaging tests.
  • Ethics and Law in Medical Research
    Course Organiser: Prof Nick Goulding / Dr Miran Epstein
    This module will explore ethical and legal questions posed by contemporary medical research. Its aims are twofold. First, students will understand the philosophical and historical background to the Helsinki Declaration, along with its relation to statute and case law concerning informed consent. Second, students will be able to apply this understanding to clarifying ethical and legal debates about particular types of medical research, especially those within reproductive medicine and work with animals.

Optional Units

There is a great flexibility of choice of projects for Molecular Therapeutics students.  You can choose or design your own project and then choose one of the flexible option module teaching programmes in clinical / cardiovascular pharmacology, inflammation therapeutics or immunology on offer during the spring term.

Neuroendocrinology - Basic and Clinical Aspects

Course Organiser: Dr Peter King

The aim of this module is to give students a thorough grounding in the fundamentals of neuroendocrinology, including an understanding of the structure and function of the hypothalamo-pituitary axis and its relation to growth, stress, reproduction and immune-endocrine interactions. This will then lead naturally to discussions of diseases of the hypothalamus and pituitary, particularly hormone-secreting tumours, and rationales for different modalities of therapeutic intervention. Throughout the course, the emphasis will be on the integration of molecular medicine with disease processes and interventions.

The following projects were among those undertaken in recent years:

  • The influence of IGFBP-3 on colonic cell proliferation and apoptosis
  • Cellular localisation of T-Star

Forensic Medicine

Course organiser: Profs. Peter Vanezis and Atholl Johnston, William Harvey Research Institute

Current medical education contains little, if any, forensic medicine teaching. However, there is a need for doctors to be aware of, and to, understand their medico-legal responsibilities. This course option is unique in the U.K. and will introduce medical undergraduates to the possibilities of victim and suspect identification using modern systematic, scientific techniques. The legal ethical framework of human identification will be explained.

The course topics will include:

Legal and human rights issues in identification; identification of the body at different stages of decay; victim identification from crime scene investigation; forensic odontology; forensic osteology; investigation of clandestine graves; craniofacial identification; DNA analysis including the human genome/molecular biology techniques and tools used in human identification; identification from prints; emergency planning and victim identification in mass disasters.

The majority of the teaching faculty will be drawn from experts external to QMUL. These will be practicing forensic scientists, police officers, coroners, lawyers and forensic pathologists.

Recent projects includes:

  • Cold Case DNA investigations
  • Time of death from analysis of Vitreous Humor samples


Course organiser: Prof. Rizgar Mageed, Bone & Joint Research Unit

This unit aims to provide the student with a refresher in the basic understanding of immunology as a prelude to studying the subject in more depth. The unit starts by introducing the key elements of the immune system, such as T cells, B cells, dendritic cells; NK cells etc, outlining specific mechanisms by which these elements contribute to an immune response. The middle section of the unit then discusses examples where these elements converge in immunologically relevant scenarios, such as autoimmunity, vaccination and allergy. Finally, various disease states are discussed, primarily focusing on pathogen/immune system interactions, demonstrating the immune system in its entirety.

Syllabus Immune Development, T cells, B cells, NK cells, dendritic cells, tolerance, autoimmunity, allergy, vaccination, memory, HIV, anti-viral responses Hepatitis, Gut immunology

Medical Genetics

Course organisers Prof Shu Ye and Prof Patricia Munroe, Clinical Pharmacology WHRI

This area of medial research and therapeutics has grown rapidly over the past 10 years.  This module provides the student with an overview of human genetics and genomics and explores the role of gene sequencing, epigenetics and gene regulation in 21st century medical practice.  Examples of monogenic and polygenic diseases will be used to explore issues such as inheritability and genetic risk.  Many exciting projects using cutting edge technologies will be available for students.

Clinical Pharmacology

Course Organiser: Professor Shu Ye and Prof Amrita Ahluwalia, Department of Clinical Pharmacology, Charterhouse Square
The aim of this course is not to cover the whole of clinical pharmacology but to concentrate on those areas in which there have been exciting advances is research over the past few years. The main areas taught will be human vascular pharmacology, the genetics of cardiovascular disease and the pharmacology of inflammation. Emphasis will be put on the link between basic scientific understanding of disease mechanisms and how this understanding is able to identify new targets for drugs to combat disease.

The following projects were among those undertaken in recent years:

  • Nitric Oxide and beetroot juice
  • The genetics of high blood pressure and cardiovascular disease 

Inflammation Therapeutics

Course Organisers: Drs Dianne Cooper and Lucy Norling, Biochemical Pharmacology WHRI, Charterhouse Square

Inflammation is central to many disorders and chronic inflammatory diseases are a major source of disability; for example in rheumatoid arthritis. This module will examine the scope of inflammatory disorders, the causes of inflammation, how to treat it and how it should be assessed both experimentally and clinically.

The principal aim is to understand the mechanisms and treatments of common chronic inflammatory disorders.
The objectives will include: defining the pathogenetic mechanisms; determining the mediators of inflammation; and evaluating how therapeutic intervention can modulate the inflammatory response.

The following projects were among those undertaken by BMedSci students in recent years:

  • Capsaicin as an inflammatory adjuvant in the mouth
  • Annexin I and antiinflammation
  • Methods for protecting chondrocytes and cartilage against damage