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MMB8034 : Mitochondrial Biology & Medicine

  • Offered for Year: 2020/21
  • Module Leader(s): Professor Zofia Chrzanowska-Lightowlers
  • Lecturer: Professor Mary Herbert, Dr Monika Olahova, Dr Gavin Hudson, Professor Bobby McFarland, Dr Grainne Gorman, Professor Robert Hirt, Dr Amy Reeve, Professor Robert Lightowlers, Dr Sarah Pickett, Dr Laura Greaves, Professor Robert Taylor, Dr Joanna Elson
  • Owning School: FMS Graduate School
  • Teaching Location: Newcastle City Campus
Semester 1 Credit Value: 20
ECTS Credits: 10.0


The module will provide detailed information on aspects of basic mitochondrial biology including the origins and essential functions of mitochondria, the maintenance and expression of the mitochondrial genome, and the metabolic processes in which mitochondria play a role. The module will also provide information on disease that results from mitochondrial dysfunction. This information will be informed by current research and the current state of knowledge in the field of mitochondrial biology.

Outline Of Syllabus

This module is designed to provide both a thorough understanding of human mitochondrial genetics; the maintenance, replication and segregation of the mitochondrial genome (mtDNA); mtDNA transcription and intra-organellar translation; and appreciation of the metabolic processes that mitochondria are involved in; a detailed understanding of oxidative phosphorylation (OXPHOS) and the underlying biochemistry; an understanding of the interplay and coordination of nuclear and mitochondrially encoded proteins that maintains a healthy organelle; and an appreciation of the disease states and contribution to ageing that can arise as a consequence of dysfunction in any of the above.

Teaching Methods

Teaching Activities
Category Activity Number Length Student Hours Comment
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion150:0050:00Preparation for the Examination
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion130:0030:00Student Preparation Time for Oral Presentation for Assessment
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesLecture241:0024:00Lectures
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion120:0020:00Revsion for MCQ & MCQ
Guided Independent StudyDirected research and reading150:0050:00Making Notes and Reading from Lectures and other Sources
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesSmall group teaching12:002:00Microscopy Observation
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesSmall group teaching12:002:00Balloon Debate in Small Groups
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesWorkshops12:002:00Lab Visit Diagnostic Process
Guided Independent StudyReflective learning activity120:0020:00Reading and Reflective Learning
Teaching Rationale And Relationship

Knowledge and understanding are gained from the lectures and workshop/group sessions.

Intellectual skills are developed in the completion of the coursework assessments.

Key (transferable skills – communication, literacy, critical appraisal) are developed by the coursework and practiced in the oral presentation and written work (exam).

Comprehension and ability to discuss the subject knowledge critically will be developed for the balloon debate.

There is adequate time for reading and reflection built into the module and students will be guided (in lectures and workshops) to find appropriate and up-to-date sources as well as being encouraged to find their own sources for relevant information.

Assessment Methods

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

Description Length Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Written Examination601A60Unseen written essay-based examination.
Other Assessment
Description Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Computer assessment1M2045 min; set in week 8. MCQ test to test the breadth of knowledge acquired over the module.
Prof skill assessmnt1M15Set in Week 3. 12 min presentation element of balloon debate.
Prof skill assessmnt1M5250 word abstract relating to balloon debate presentation; set at the same time to assess skills in succinctly summarising argument
Assessment Rationale And Relationship

The unseen written paper exam tests the student’s knowledge base, comprehension, ability to discuss the subject knowledge critically, evaluation of scientific literature.

The MCQ will test the breadth of knowledge acquired over the module.

The balloon debate tests application of knowledge, understanding and ability to critically evaluate and interpret research data. This is coupled with the ability to work in a small team and jointly present cogent rational arguments. Oral presentation skills will also be evaluated.

Reading Lists