Curriculum & Course Descriptions


BS3004 Cancer Biology and Therapy

Course Coordinator: Asst Prof Melissa Fullwood (email:

Academic Unit: 3 AU

Availability: Semester 1

Pre-requisite: BS2004 Molecular & Cell Biology II

Course Type: BS-Major-PE, BMS-Major-PE

Language of instruction: English

Teaching hours: Lectures: 27 hours; Practicals: 9 hours, TEL: 9 hours

Learning Objective: The course will survey the genes and gene products which control cellular proliferation, and the genetic changes that lead to the various stages of cancer. You will apply this information by studying real or imagined experiments and proposing hypotheses to explain the results. You will think broadly about the molecular mechanisms regulating cell function and how these are assessed experimentally. You will apply your understanding of the molecular mechanisms regulating cancer cells to understand how therapies can be developed to target cancer. Learning will be accomplished through a combination of traditional lectures, online learning and lab practicals.


  1. The major underlying mechanisms responsible for cancer.
  2. Examples of technologies and methods to study cancer and develop cancer therapies.
  3. The major historical breakthroughs that led to a better understanding of cancer.
  4. The mechanism of action of several anti-cancer drugs

Learning Outcome:

Upon successfully completing this course, you should be able to:

  1. Describe, interpret and discuss experimental observations in cancer biology.
  2. Explain the major underlying mechanisms responsible for cancer and the mechanism of action of anti-cancer drugs
  3. Explain the technologies and methods used to study cancer and develop cancer therapies.
  4. Write in a clear, coherent and grammatical manner.


  1. Weinberg, R.A. The Biology of Cancer (Garland Science) (2nd edition), Garland Science, May 15, 2013, ISBN: 9780815342205
  2. Bryant et al., "Specific killing of BRCA2-deficient tumours with inhibitors of poly(ADP-ribose) polymerase." Nature, 2005, ISSN: 0028-0836 & EISSN: 1476-4687
  3. Farmer et al., "Targeting the DNA repair defect in BRCA mutant cells as a therapeutic strategy." Nature, ISSN: 0028-0836 & EISSN: 1476-4687
  4. Mardis et al., "Recurring mutations found by sequencing an acute myeloid leukemia genome." NEJM, 2009, Published in final edited form as: N Engl J Med. 2009 September 10; 361(11): 1058–1066. doi:10.1056/NEJMoa0903840

*Prerequisites for Incoming Exchange Students: Equivalent of Year 2 or Higher Biology or Biotechnology major