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Unit information: Neurodegeneration: Symptoms, molecular mechanisms and therapies in 2018/19

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Unit name Neurodegeneration: Symptoms, molecular mechanisms and therapies
Unit code MEDIM0014
Credit points 20
Level of study M/7
Teaching block(s) Academic Year (weeks 1 - 52)
Unit director Dr. Allen-Birt
Open unit status Not open




School/department Bristol Medical School
Faculty Faculty of Health Sciences


This unit covers an in depth understanding of neuropathology, symptoms and possible treatments of selected neurodegenerative diseases including Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, Huntington’s disease, and multiple sclerosis. Alongside this, there is a comparison of pathology, symptoms and underlying mechanisms involved in these separate diseases in order to find unifying theories of disease.

The Aim of this Unit is to:

Provide a basic understanding of the underlying molecular mechanisms of certain neurodegenerative processes, and to use this to explain similarities and differences between the associated neurodegenerative disorders.

Specific aims:

  1. To explain the pathology of neurodegenerative specific diseases in terms of underlying mechanisms.
  2. To provide an insight into how the pathology of these diseases relates to the symptoms produced.
  3. Using the above information, to explain how drugs and other therapies may be useful in neurodegenerative diseases.
  4. To provide basic training in writing a research grant.

Intended learning outcomes

At the end of the unit the student should be able to:

A. discuss the neuropathology, symptoms and molecular mechanisms of the major neurodegenerative diseases; B. discuss similarities of underlying molecular processes in different neurodegenerative diseases; C. discuss the importance of protein structure in the disease process; D. discuss the types of possible therapies for the treatment of neurodegenerative diseases; E. present the major theories of how neurodegenerative diseases occur, to other scientists; F. to understand what might be required to apply for (small) grant funding.

Teaching details

This unit is taught through lectures and tutorials; also complementary material is placed on Blackboard.

Assessment Details

Writing a grant application (contributing 70% to the final unit mark) and performing coursework (contributing 30% to the final unit mark)

The coursework would be completed in the student's own time and reinforces the learning outcomes. Questions are a mixture of short answer and multiple choice, where students may be required to describe why they made their choice and, in some cases, why other choices were not appropriate.

The grant application is approximately 3,000 words.

The overall unit pass mark is 50%. However at least 45% must be obtained for the grant application

Reading and References

Selected relevant review papers from the literature. There are a number of topics within this unit. For each there is a recent review given. There are also additional notes given on Blackboard.