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BSc Pharmacology with Industrial/Professional Experience / Course details

Year of entry: 2020

Course unit details:
Biochemical Basis of Disease (E)

Unit code BIOL31332
Credit rating 10
Unit level Level 3
Teaching period(s) Semester 2
Offered by School of Biological Sciences
Available as a free choice unit? No


Major diseases of man such as diabetes, obesity, atherosclerosis, and fibrosis, are increasingly significant contributors to morbidity and mortality in the western world. Developing treatments for these diseases is a major challenge to the pharmaceutical industry and there is great interest in the biochemistry underlying their pathogenesis. This unit aims to describe the biochemistry of these diseases and highlight how understanding the disease mechanisms is necessary in order to develop novel therapies.



Unit title Unit code Requirement type Description
Cell Metabolism & Metabolic Control BIOL21132 Pre-Requisite Recommended


This unit aims to describe the biochemistry of these common diseases and highlight how our current understanding of disease mechanisms informs the development of novel therapies.


Learning outcomes

Students should have an understanding of the biochemical basis of a number of major diseases of man and appreciate how and why specific disease mechanisms are being targeted in the development of new treatments.



A significant proportion of this course will be delivered in the form of directed reading supported by lectures and will focus on biochemical aspects of disease mechanisms and potential therapies relating to:

•       Diabetes and Obesity: metabolic syndrome, beta cells and insulin secretion, insulin resistance, type II diabetes, secondary complications of diabetes.

•       Vascular disease: Atherosclerosis, dyslipidaemia, vascular calcification, aberrant angiogenesis

•       Fibrotic disease: ECM biology in tissue homeostasis, remodelling, repair and fibrosis.

•       Protein folding/misfolding diseases: amyloid diseases, prion disease, gain and loss of function diseases caused by protein misfolding at the endoplasmic reticulum, the unfolded protein response and its role in disease, therapeutic strategies for protein folding diseases.


Employability skills

Students encouraged to read around the lecture material including recommended primary literature and review papers.
Written communication
Students have the opportunity to submit and receive feedback on an exam style essay outline which is based on relevant questions from past papers.

Assessment methods

Method Weight
Written exam 90%
Oral assessment/presentation 10%

2 hour written exam answering two essay questions (90%), GBL assessment (10%).

Feedback methods

Group feedback will be given for the assessment and an online discussion forum on Blackboard will be available to facilitate communication amongst students and teaching staff.

The final lecture of the course will be attended by all lecturers. The focus will be to provide a review of the previous year’s exam paper and guidance on exam preparation.


Recommended reading

Review papers and some primary literature will be provided on Blackboard to compliment the lecture topics.

Study hours

Scheduled activity hours
Assessment written exam 2
Lectures 18
Independent study hours
Independent study 80

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
Susan Taylor Unit coordinator

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