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MMB8037 : Cardiovascular Science in Health and Disease

  • Offered for Year: 2022/23
  • Module Leader(s): Dr Helen Phillips
  • Lecturer: Professor Michael Taggart, Professor Judith Rankin, Dr Guy MacGowan, Dr Bill Chaudhry, Dr Adam McDiarmid, Dr Christopher Eggett, Dr Gavin Richardson
  • Other Staff: Dr Simon Bamforth
  • Deputy Module Leader: Professor Ioakim Spyridopoulos
  • Owning School: FMS Graduate School
  • Teaching Location: Newcastle City Campus
Semester 1 Credit Value: 20
ECTS Credits: 10.0


Cardiovascular disease is the single biggest contributor to death and as such today is one of the most important areas of research the world over. This module gives students a detailed understanding of the development and function of the heart and vasculature and insights to the dysfunctional processes that underlie many cardiovascular diseases. The module will be taught by scientific and clinical research experts within three research Institutes of the Faculty of Medical Sciences (Biosciences Institute, Translational and Clinical Research Institute, Population and Health Sciences Institute) giving a broad perspective to the topic rooted in current state-of-the-art research knowledge. The fundamentals of vascular and cardiac biology from molecular, genetic, cellular, tissue, organ and whole-body perspectives will be described. Examples of model experimental systems for the study of cardiovascular physiology and disease will be given throughout. These will be complemented by descriptions of in vivo measurements of important cardiovascular parameters in humans, as well as discussion of procedures for disease identification and possibilities for translation of research findings towards improved diagnosis and treatments of cardiovascular disease. Speakers will draw on examples from their own current areas of research activity. The module is compulsory for students wishing to proceed to an MRes in Cardiovascular Science in Health & Disease and will also be of interest to students wishing to attain an understanding of cardiovascular function and disease and/or progress towards a research career in this important topic.

Outline Of Syllabus

Topics cover:

(1)       1) This module will cover cardiovascular health and disease throughout life course. It will detail the fundamentals of vascular structure and function including the relationship between endothelial cells, vascular smooth muscle cells and extracellular matrix and the processes controlling these cells and molecules during blood vessel remodeling in response to pregnancy, the role of transcriptional (mRNA) and translational (protein isoforms, post-translational modifications) regulation of these processes and the contribution of innate and adaptive immunity to vascular homeostasis.

(2)       2) The module will go on to explain how epigenetics and genetics control cardiac development. It will cover heart development, explaining the contribution of different cell populations to this process and how congenital heart defects (CHDs) form because of disruption of different developmental pathways. The impact of CHDs on the diagnosis, care and adult outcomes will be discussed. The fundamentals of cardiac cell and organ structure will be discussed, ie how the cardiomyocyte striated structure contributes to cell and tissue specialisations of the 4 cardiac chambers, electrical excitability (single cell electrophysiology, whole organ imaging and diagnostic ECG) and contractile function (single cell to whole organ).

(3)       3) There will be a focus on cardiovascular disease and how genetics play a role, focusing on cardiomyopathy, will be covered. Descriptions will be given as to how these processes may be altered in common age-related diseases including, atrial and ventricular arrhythmias, development of atherosclerosis, coronary heart disease, myocardial ischaemia and heart failure, with attention given to the interplay between vascular dysfunction and altered cardiac cell, tissue and organ dysfunction. This will include current research avenues for improving treatment (eg altering cellular senescence, targeted molecular re-expression or mechanical assist ventricular devices). Reference will be made to the use of experimental research models for understanding cardiac structure and function in normal health and in a range of disease states and the application of state-of-the-art in vivo measurement of cardiovascular parameter in humans which are important for the detection, diagnosis and ultimately treatment of multiple cardiovascular diseases.

Teaching Methods

Teaching Activities
Category Activity Number Length Student Hours Comment
Structured Guided LearningLecture materials101:0010:00Non-synchronous online: Delivery of relevant lecture information essential for some PIP teaching
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion651:0065:00Independent work on preparation and delivery of oral presentation and in-course essay
Guided Independent StudyDirected research and reading1100:00100:00Enhancement of knowledge given in lectures/seminars via advanced guided learning & revision for exam
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesSmall group teaching201:0020:00Present in person (PIP): Delivery of information essential to knowledge outcomes by specialists
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesWorkshops12:002:00Present in person (PIP): Guidance on critical analysis/thinking and essay writing
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesWorkshops31:003:00Present in person (PIP): Delivery of an oral presentation
Teaching Rationale And Relationship

Knowledge & understanding are obtained from a blended approach where for some lectures (present in person teaching) will have relevant recorded material and information available in advance online allowing directed learning (non-synchronous teaching). Lectures will be present in person and a recording and relevant information will be posted online following the lecture. Peer discussions will be encouraged. Adequate time for student reading, some of which is directed as mentioned above, and reflective learning builds on these skills.

Comprehension, intellectual and critical appraisal skills are acquired as part of the discussions during lectures and in preparation for, and participation in, the final exam and the in-course assessment (essay) and formative oral presentations. The workshop session will provide guidance on the in-course essay and critical analysis of research papers.

Assessment Methods

The format of resits will be determined by the Board of Examiners

Description Length Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Written Examination601A60Present in person exam; 20 MCQs and a short essay from a choice of 3 questions, covering lecture material from the whole module
Other Assessment
Description Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Essay1M401500 word essay
Formative Assessments
Description Semester When Set Comment
Prof skill assessmnt1MPresent in person group oral presentation of submitted slides: critical appraisals of research papers: 15mins/5mins Q&As
Assessment Rationale And Relationship

The written in-course essay tests the student’s knowledge base and critical thinking gained through the present in person teaching and non-synchronous lecture material online and their broader comprehension of the topic from directed learning.

The 1 hour exam will include a mixture of MCQs and a short essay covering the content from the entire module. This is to ensure there is student engagement and attainment of knowledge from the lectures throughout the module. It will test the different abilities of the students by testing their individual knowledge and understanding of all the main topics covered.

The formative oral presentation assessment format comprehensively tests the students’ transferable skills in communication – visual (clear slides) and verbal (clarity of thought) - and ability to work to critically appraise, and contextualise, scientific/clinical data and literature. They will work as a group allowing team working skills.

Reading Lists