Genomics in Cancer Pathology

Course Type
Postgraduate, Continuing professional development, Module

Module overview

The aim of this module is to equip the student with knowledge and understanding of the molecular mechanisms involved in cancer development. This will include the ways in which interrogation of a person’s own genome and the genome of neoplastic cells can facilitate the diagnosis and personalised treatment of cancer.

This module covers the molecular mechanisms that underlie cancer development, growth and metastasis, and the differences between different cancers. It will explore the different molecular and cellular actions of anti-cancer treatments, the genomic factors affecting response and resistance to treatment, and the research approaches to anti-cancer drug design and development. Broad situations which confer a high cancer risk to a person and/or to other members of the same family will be discussed in the context of how genomic information may be integrated into cancer screening programmes, and the impact this may have on the patient and their family. This module will also prepare students to interrogate the cancer data sets from the 100,000 Genomes Project if relevant for their research project.

Module Content

  • Cellular properties of tumours: growth, division, invasion, aberrant hormone or toxin production, and immunogenicity, including T cell and B cell repertoire profiling.
  • Tumour classification systems.
  • Factors in tumour formation: molecular mechanisms and role of microenvironment, molecular signatures and changing classification.
  • Diagnosis, molecular sub-classification, aggressiveness (prognosis) characterisation of metastases.
  • Breakthrough tumour/metastases and molecular mechanisms
  • Genomic testing of solid tumours and haematological cancers, including: importance of sample quality; and testing of cell free tumour DNA in blood, for diagnosis and monitoring of solid cancers.
  • Analytical and interpretation challenges in genomics as applied to cancer, including an awareness of standardised nomenclature used when reporting results.
  • Genomic and cellular markers and optimal treatment regimes in haematological cancer and solid tumours, including: companion diagnostics in cancer; and shared decision making with the patient
  • Monitoring disease following treatment (medical, surgical or bone marrow transplant).
  • Molecular basis of germline mutations for cancer predisposition, including: genomic testing strategies; interpretation of results for pathogenicity; and familial implications, including presymptomatic testing, and options for screening and prophylactic treatment.
  • Approaches to identify new genes and susceptibility loci: GWAS studies; other predisposition biomarkers.
  • Environmental factor and lifestyle predisposition and protection; molecular action; genomic interaction
  • Approaches to identify new genes and susceptibility loci: GWAS studies; other predisposition biomarkers.
  • Environmental factor and lifestyle predisposition and protection; molecular action; genomic interaction; epigenetic factors.
  • Role of genomics in drug development, and the role of clinical trials as part of treatment.

Credits

15 Masters level credits

Module attendance required

Teaching delivered over 5 days.

Module dates

Semester 1

Module Leads

Dr Andrew Bell (Lecturer in Cancer and Genomic Sciences)
Dr Maarten Hoogenkamp (Leukaemia & Lymphoma Research Bennett Fellow)

Module Prerequisites

This module can be taken as a stand-alone assessed or non-assessed course. 

You should have a good honours degree in a life sciences subject, although we will consider applicants with alternative qualifications and professional experience within the health service or other relevant background. You should either take An Introduction to Human Genetics and Genomics and module 2 Omics Techniques and their Application to Genomic Medicine first, or be able to show you have equivalent knowledge and understanding to enable you to benefit from this module. 

Please contact the Programme Administrator for further information at genomics@contacts.bham.ac.uk

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