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MMB8037 : Cardiovascular Science in Health and Disease

  • Offered for Year: 2023/24
  • Module Leader(s): Dr Helen Phillips
  • Lecturer: Professor Judith Rankin, Dr Simon Tual-Chalot, Dr Guy MacGowan, Professor Michael Taggart, Dr Bill Chaudhry, Dr Adam McDiarmid, Professor Christopher Eggett, Dr Louise Coats, Professor Deborah Henderson, Dr Gavin Richardson
  • Other Staff: Dr Simon Bamforth
  • Deputy Module Leader: Professor Ioakim Spyridopoulos
  • Owning School: Biomedical, Nutritional and Sports Scien
  • 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 the vasculature and insights into 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 discussions of procedures for disease identification and possibilities for translation of research findings towards improved diagnosis and treatments of cardiovascular disease. Interactive sessions will focus on how to critique papers and discuss unravelling the genetics of congenital heart defects. 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

This module will cover cardiovascular health and disease throughout the life course, and it will cover the following topics:

•       The mechanisms of cardiac electrical excitation coupling.

•       Applications of Electrocardiology in clinical and research settings.

•       Alterations in vascular structure and function in normal physiology and in disease conditions.

•       Vascular endothelial cells in health and disease.

•       Age-related diseases including, atrial and ventricular arrhythmias, development of atherosclerosis,
coronary heart disease, myocardial ischaemia and heart failure.

•       The processes controlling the cells and molecules during cardiovascular remodelling in response to

•       The molecular mechanisms underpinning vascular remodelling including transcriptional (mRNA) and
translational (protein) processes.

•       The contribution of innate and adaptive immunity to vascular homeostasis.

•       Current research avenues for improving treatment including altering cellular senescence, targeted
molecular re-expression, or mechanical assist ventricular devices.

•       Describe and discuss the suitability of specific in vivo measurement techniques of cardiovascular
function in health and in relation to specific diseases.

•       The key processes of heart development and the different genetic, cellular and tissue contributions.

•       Congenital heart defects and adult congenital outcomes.

•       The epidemiology of congenital heart defects.

•       The genetics of cardiovascular disease (focusing on cardiomyopathy) and related research using animal

Teaching Methods

Teaching Activities
Category Activity Number Length Student Hours Comment
Structured Guided LearningLecture materials151:0015:00Non-synchronous online: Delivery of relevant lecture information essential for some PIP teaching
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion601:0060:00Independent 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 teaching181:0018:00Present in person (PIP): Delivery of information essential to knowledge outcomes by specialists
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesWorkshops31:003:00Present in person (PIP): Delivery of an oral presentation
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesWorkshops22:004:00Present in person (PIP): Guidance on critical analysis/thinking and essay writing and interactive seminar critiquing papers.
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 Examination14401A6024 hour take home exam. To answer 3 short essay style questions from a choice of 5 (500 words each - total maximum word limit 1500 words). Students are expected to spend ~ 2 hours on the exam.
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 summative in-course essay assessment tests the students knowledge base and critical thinking and analysis of published data, gained through the present in person teaching and non-synchronous lecture material online and their broader comprehension of the topic from self-directed learning.

The final summative open book exam will require short essay answers, from a choice of questions which focus on the content from lectures in the module. This will test the students knowledge, understanding and critical thinking skills and additional research skills. This is to ensure there is a student engagement and attainment of knowledge from the lectures throughout the module.

The formative oral presentation assessment format comprehensively tests the students transferable skills in communication - visual (clear sides) 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