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BMS3020 : Chronic Disease

  • Offered for Year: 2023/24
  • Module Leader(s): Dr Catherine Meplan
  • Lecturer: Dr Lei Huang, Dr Julian Rutherford, Professor Neil Sheerin, Dr Gordon Strathdee, Professor Ioakim Spyridopoulos, Miss Alison Barnes
  • Owning School: Biomedical, Nutritional and Sports Scien
  • Teaching Location: Newcastle City Campus
Semester 1 Credit Value: 20
ECTS Credits: 10.0


The aims of the module are to study chronic diseases within three sub-categories and to illustrate the basic background knowledge within each section with selected disease examples. The disease selection reflects areas in which Newcastle University has a very active research community.

1. To provide an understanding of the biochemistry and biology of metal toxicity and the clinical consequences using specific examples
2. To provide an understanding of the relationship between nutrition and disease and to illustrate this with specific examples
3. To provide an understanding of the role of inflammation and immune function in the development of chronic disorders.

The module is designed on the principle that the basic understanding will provide information which applies to a range of chronic diseases. The selected examples illustrate these principles which are transferrable to other diseases. This will enable students to have a better understanding of disease pathogenesis across a wider range of different human diseases and stimulate further reading.

Outline Of Syllabus

The module will include 3 sections all related to chronic disease:

•       Metal toxicity and chronic disease
•       Nutrition and chronic disease
•       Inflammation and immune function

Each section will include lectures on the basic biology and biochemistry underpinning each sub-section including the key systems and normal functioning of those systems. Each section will also include lectures and seminars/tutorials on specific disease examples.

Metal toxicity and chronic disease

This section will consist of a series of lectures and a seminar. The lectures will cover metallo-biology in general (briefly) and copper and iron homeostasis in humans, discussing specifically the uptake and distribution of these metals and what we know about the regulation of these processes. They will also cover the clinical aspects of Wilson’s disease and haemachromatosis. The seminar will involve an open session with a Wilson’s disease patient (who has volunteered to do this) who will discuss the clinical aspect of the disease and the impact of the disease in their life.

Nutrition and chronic disease

This section discusses the relationship between nutrition factors and genetic variations in the development of age-related chronic diseases, nutrition and epigenetic, and described selected examples of diseases in which nutrition plays a key role (e.g. cancer and cardiovascular disease). This section is supported by a seminar on data analysis.

Inflammation and immune function

This section will start with lectures on the basic principles including an overview of infection, allergy and autoimmunity will describe the role of inflammation and inflammatory signalling in chronic diseases.

Teaching Methods

Teaching Activities
Category Activity Number Length Student Hours Comment
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesLecture201:0020:00In person - Lectures
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion130:0030:00The assessment preparation and revision for the assessment
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesSmall group teaching11:001:00Data interpretation seminar - in person. Class to be broken down into smaller groups for seminars.
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesSmall group teaching11:001:00Patient perspective seminar. Synchronous online
Structured Guided LearningStructured research and reading activities1107:00107:00Reading on subject using references from lectures and other sources.
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesSmall group teaching11:001:00In-person Assessment lecture
Guided Independent StudyReflective learning activity140:0040:00Writing and reflecting on lectures
Teaching Rationale And Relationship

Lectures are used to impart new information in a concise manner regarding basic biology and biochemistry underpinning chronic disease, as well as expanded examples of chronic diseases. Students will have an opportunity to consider and discuss real disease examples in the seminars and perform some data analysis. The lecture materials should stimulate the students to reflect and do further reading and the seminars should stimulate the students to reflect and critically consider the subject and the societal challenges it raises.

Assessment Methods

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

Description Length Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Written Examination1202A70Invigilated exam 2 out of 4 essays.
Other Assessment
Description Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Essay1M30Extended Essay - 2000 words
Assessment Rationale And Relationship

The open book essay will test the student's knowledge and understanding of the subject and the ability of the students to integrate material from different parts of the course. The exam questions are designed to enable the students to critically evaluate the information they have accrued during the module and demonstrate the scope of their reading and the extent to which they have been able to understand it.

The extended essay will enable students to demonstrate critical thinking and reading in the subject area. Feedback on the extended essay will help improve student's writing skills for the final exams.

FMS Schools offering Semester One modules available as ‘Study Abroad’ will, where required, provide an alternative assessment time for examinations that take place after the Christmas vacation. Coursework with submissions dates after the Christmas vacation will either be submitted at an earlier date or at the same time remotely.

Reading Lists