Skip to main content


MMB8050 : Therapeutic Applications of Cell Signalling Pathways

  • Offered for Year: 2021/22
  • Module Leader(s): Dr Jun-yong Huang
  • Lecturer: Dr Julian Rutherford, Dr Jill Hunter, Dr Viktor Korolchuk, Dr Alessio Iannetti, Dr Adam Wollman, Dr Shoba Amarnath, Professor Craig Robson, Dr Iglika Ivanova, Professor Brendan Kenny, Dr Kelly Coffey, Dr Ruchi Shukla, Dr Catherine Arden
  • Owning School: FMS Graduate School
  • Teaching Location: Newcastle City Campus
Semester 1 Credit Value: 20
ECTS Credits: 10.0


This module is designed to introduce students to the fundamental area of cell signalling pathways using various model organisms. Students will gain a thorough understanding of the molecular mechanisms of some key signalling pathways with a wide range of cellular responses, and how these pathways are underpinning for the development of new therapeutics, in a wide range of diseases including diabetes and cancer.

Outline Of Syllabus

There are fourteen lectures given by world-class research scientists, strongly supported by the ‘Theme of Cell Signalling’ of the Biosciences Institute, within the Faculty of Medical Sciences, Newcastle University. All are studying different aspects of cell signalling using a variety of techniques and model systems. The lectures will cover the following five fundamental areas of cell signalling pathways that will allow the students to gain a thorough understanding of their molecular mechanisms and how these can contribute to the development of new therapies or drug resistance:

1.       Three lectures focusing on the NF-kB signalling pathway: The molecular mechanisms of NF-kB in the regulation of cancer cell proliferation and survival and cross-talk between the NF-kB signalling pathway and the p53 oncosuppressor. One of this will introduce the use of the cutting-edge technology of CRISPR to target the NF-kB signalling pathway and in drug discovery.

2.       Two lectures on cell signalling and drug resistance: Genomic repeat elements their role in cell signalling and drug resistance, the molecular mechanisms of developing the specific drug resistance to kinase inhibitors and their impact on human health.

3.       Two lectures on immune cell signalling: One specifically focusing on the molecular mechanisms of immune cell signalling in cancer and immunotherapy. The other will emphasise the manipulation of the immune response by bacteria in the development of disease.

4.       Three lectures on cell signalling in metabolism: The molecular mechanisms of insulin cell signalling in type 2 Diabetes, nutrient sensing pathways and the new established cross-disciplinary linking insulin cell signalling to the regulation of mitosis.

5.       Four lectures on cell receptor signalling: Focusing on the hormone receptor signalling, GPCR cell signalling, and the hippo pathway and their targeting in diseases. One of this will specifically introduce the students to the use of sophisticated single molecule microscopy in cell signalling, including case studies on the EGFR and transcription factors.

Teaching Methods

Teaching Activities
Category Activity Number Length Student Hours Comment
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesLecture82:0016:00Present in person (PIP): lectures
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesLecture61:006:00Present in person (PIP): lectures
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion180:0080:00Preparation and submission of 2000 word Essay
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion140:0040:00Preparation of Oral Presentation based on the 2000 word essay topic.
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesWorkshops13:003:00Present in Person (PIP): Oral Presentations
Guided Independent StudyReflective learning activity154:0054:00Reading and reflective learning
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesModule talk11:001:00Present in person (PIP): Introductory session
Teaching Rationale And Relationship

Knowledge and understanding are gained from the lectures. Intellectual skills are developed in the lectures and by the coursework. Key (transferable skills – communication, literacy, critical appraisal) are developed during the lectures and by the coursework and practiced in the oral presentation and written work (essay).

Should public health circumstances dictate that it is necessary, in person sessions will be moved to online alternatives.

Assessment Methods

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

Other Assessment
Description Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Essay1M602000 words essay on a given topic of a taught component
Prob solv exercises1M4010-12 minutes presentation based on the essay content, with 3 minutes Q/A
Assessment Rationale And Relationship

Knowledge and understanding of the taught components are assessed in the 2000 word essay. Skills in writing and literacy, sourcing materials, critical appraisal and use of IT are assessed in the 2000 word essay.

Presentation showing IT, literacy active learning and critical appraisal and communication skills are assessed in the short oral presentation.

Should public health circumstances dictate that it is necessary, the in person oral presentation will be moved to an online alternative.

Reading Lists