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MMB8008 : Chromosome Biology and Cell Cycle Control in Health and Disease

  • Offered for Year: 2024/25
  • Module Leader(s): Professor Jonathan Higgins
  • Co-Module Leader: Dr Josana Rodriguez Sanchez
  • Lecturer: Professor David Elliott, Dr Richard Daniel, Professor Ian Hickson, Dr Claudia Schneider, Dr Laura Maringele, Professor Jane Endicott, Dr Lisa Russell, Professor Mary Herbert, Dr Louise Reynard
  • Owning School: Biomedical, Nutritional and Sports Scien
  • Teaching Location: Newcastle City Campus

Your programme is made up of credits, the total differs on programme to programme.

Semester 1 Credit Value: 20
ECTS Credits: 10.0
European Credit Transfer System



This module is designed to introduce students to the molecular cell biology of four fundamental areas:

(1) control of mitosis and meiosis, including asymmetric and bacterial cell division;
(2) gene expression, epigenetics and chromatin;
(3) DNA damage and genome instability; and
(4) the chromosomal functions of RNA.

Students will gain a thorough understanding of the essential mechanisms controlling cell division in somatic and reproductive eukaryotic cells and in bacterial cells, and how this guards genome integrity. They will learn about chromatin and chromosome structure and function, including histone modification and DNA methylation, the regulation of gene expression, epigenetics, DNA damage responses and repair, the origin of aneuploidy and chromosome abnormalities, and mechanisms of chromosome-associated RNA function. Students will also cover how changes in these essential activities contribute to ageing, birth defects, fertility problems and diseases such as cancer and arthritis, and how this knowledge can aid drug discovery and other therapeutic approaches.

Outline Of Syllabus

A.       There are twelve lectures given by world-class research scientists in four fundamental areas of molecular cell biology, combined with first hand research and clinical implications/applications:

1.       Five lectures focusing on cell division control in human/mammalian somatic and reproductive cells, C. elegans and bacterial cells; the essential G1 CDK-cyclin complexes and insight from the structure.

2.       Two lectures on chromosome structure (chromatin, centromeres, telomeres) and its control mechanisms, histone modification, DNA methylation and epigenetics, the regulation of the gene expression, and their alterations in human diseases.

3.       Three lectures on DNA damage responses and therapeutic opportunities; telomeres in ageing and cancer; and molecular mechanisms causing aneuploidy and chromosome abnormalities and their clinical significance.

4.       Two lectures focusing on the molecular roles of coding and non-coding RNAs on chromosomes, including maintaining genome integrity and regulating gene expression, and disease relevance.

Eleven of these lectures will be delivered on campus in appropriately designed seminar rooms, and one will be delivered as pre-recorded videos saved online for student access at will. We will also provide on campus present-in-person (PIP) teaching for two sessions on “Critical analysis of papers in the relevant areas of chromosome biology and the cell cycle. Led by faculty members, students in small groups will be given training in critical appraisal by discussing research papers. This will involve looking at the background literature; hypotheses tested; experimental approaches used; quality, interpretation and significance of the results; and the potential for future experiments and research.

Teaching Methods

Teaching Activities
Category Activity Number Length Student Hours Comment
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion158:0058:00Preparation and completion of the written evaluation of a scientific paper
Structured Guided LearningLecture materials12:002:00Non Synchronous lectures: Pre-recorded videos available online
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion130:0030:00Preparation of an abstract - 600 words in length based on the content of the oral presentation topic
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesLecture112:0022:00Present in person (PIP): Lecture sessions
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion130:0030:00Preparation of oral presentation based on a given topic from a taught component
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesSmall group teaching22:004:00Present in person (PIP): Critical analysis of scientific papers
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesWorkshops13:003:00Present in person (PIP) - oral presentations
Guided Independent StudyReflective learning activity146:0046:00Reading and reflective learning
Guided Independent StudyIndependent study22:004:00Preparing notes from online accessible lecture notes/pre-recorded videos/reading.Q/As via Email/Zoom
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 and seminar/tutorials. Intellectual skills are developed in the tutorials and by the coursework. Key (transferable skills – communication, literacy, critical appraisal) are developed during the tutorials and by the coursework and practiced in the oral presentation and written work (essay).

Assessment Methods

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

Other Assessment
Description Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Essay1A50Critical appraisal (1,500 words) based on a given scientific paper.
Prof skill assessmnt1A5010-12 minutes oral presentation (PIP) with a 600 word synopsis based on a given topic from a taught component, with 3 minutes Q/A
Assessment Rationale And Relationship

Knowledge and understanding of the taught components are assessed in the 1500 word essay. Skills in writing and literacy, sourcing materials, critical appraisal and use of IT are assessed in the 1500 word essay and in the essay of the critical paper analysis separately. Presentation showing IT, literacy active learning and critical appraisal and communication skills are assessed in the short oral presentation, concise summary of information is assessed in the abstract.

Reading Lists