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Unit information: New Horizons in Medicine in 2020/21

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Unit name New Horizons in Medicine
Unit code PHPH30021
Credit points 20
Level of study H/6
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 4 (weeks 1-24)
Unit director Professor. Sergey Kasparov
Open unit status Not open




School/department School of Physiology, Pharmacology & Neuroscience
Faculty Faculty of Life Sciences


This unit will concentrate on how recent advances in genomics and molecular biology can be exploited in the pursuit of personalised medicine through a series of seminars and workshops. The unit aims to develop an understanding of key concepts in molecular medicine through discussion of a number of disease scenarios including: cancer, cardiovascular disease, neuroscience and cystic fibrosis. Topics covered will include:

  • Genome editing through CRISPR/Cas9 knocdown/knockin technologies
  • Identification of mutations in individual patients and how these can be exploited therapeutically.
  • The use of animal models, from mice through to flies, to understand the cellular changes occurring in disease states
  • Using stem cells in regenerative medicine
  • Translation of findings from animal models to the clinic – bench to bedside

Intended learning outcomes

By the end of this unit, students will be able to demonstrate:

  • An in-depth knowledge and critical understanding of selected aspects of molecular medicine, with an ability to keep up-to-date with recent developments in the field and their application in a variety of disease scenarios.
  • An understanding of how genetic techniques (e.g. genome editing, genome wide association studies, transcriptomics) are being used in the pursuit of personalised medicine, and how these techniques are performed.
  • The ability to gather information from the primary scientific literature and to critically evaluate the material and appraise competing theories.
  • An understanding of the risks and limitations of genetic modification therapies.

Teaching details


Assessment Details

Timed assessment 90%

The unit will be assessed through a timed assessment in May/June, which contributes 90% of the unit mark and consists of two sections. In Section A (50%), students will be expected to answer one essay question from a choice of 3, which will assess their knowledge and critical understanding of the field, and their ability to gather information from the primary scientific literature. In Section B (50%), students will be expected to answer one multi-part compulsory question assessing data handling/data interpretation and experimental design skills.

Coursework 10%

The coursework will be either an essay, data interpretation or experimental design question of a similar format to that used in the timed assessment.

Reading and References

Reviews and key references from the current scientific literature