Department of Pathology

Part IB: Examination: Tumour Biology

Tumour Biology

This course will consist of 7 lectures followed by 2 extended ‘practicals’ in which students will present to each other and discuss key papers from the literature of tumour biology. The aim is to explore important aspects of current Tumour Biology through presenting and discussing primary literature. Preparation for the presentations is a very important component of this course, and involves familiarity with the substance of 8 or 10 (depending on student numbers) selected original peer-reviewed papers in major journals.


Aims and Objectives

Aim: The aim is to add to the value of the Part 1B core course through (1) establishing a firm basis of understanding of important aspects of current Tumour Biology, and (2) encouraging acquisition of the transferable skills of data analysis, succinct expression, and intellectual teamwork.

Objectives: By the end of this course, students will have made themselves thoroughly familiar with significant topics within current tumour biology. They will have gained experience of reading original literature in these areas, analysing experimental design, and critically reviewing the interpretations put on the results. They will have worked together to create short oral presentations supplemented with diagrammatic material, and will have discussed the impact of particular findings. [top]


Date Time Topic Lecturer and presentation co-ordinator
Tuesday 25 February 2014 11:00-12:00pm LT Course Instructions Dr Paolo D'Avino
Thursday 27 February 2014 10:00–11:00 LT Cancer Epidemiology Dr Paul Pharoah
Tuesday 4 March 2014 10:00–11:00 LT Helicobacter-associated cancer Professor Ming Du
Thursday 6 March 2014 10:00-11:00 LT Tumour Viruses Professor Margaret Stanley
Tuesday 11 March 2014 10:00–11:00 LT Development of murine models to dissect the pathogenesis of cancer
Dr Suzanne Turner
11:00–12:00pm LT Genetic instability
followed by
Presentation instructions
Dr Paul Edwards

Following the lectures, after the Vacation, a set of papers on the topics covered will be presented in two extended seminar sessions, in each of which 4 or 5 original papers will be discussed.

Students will be together for the lectures, but will present and discuss the papers in classes of 10 – 15 depending on numbers. A team of 2 or 3 students will be assigned to each paper, and will work as a team to prepare their presentation outside the classroom.

Each of the students in a team will present part of the paper, dividing up the task. First, one will present the background, indicating why studies of the nature described are important, and drawing as need be from material that should extend beyond the contents of the Introduction section of the paper itself. Then the principles that underlie the methods used in the experiments will be described. The results and the conclusions will then be presented. Each presenting student will be asked to keep firmly to a 5 – 10 minute time quota. The science of the paper will then be open for discussion for around 5 – 10 minutes, followed by a critique of the presentation. In each seminar, four or possibly five papers will be presented in this way, so that all students in the class will be involved directly.



One supervision is recommended, on the content of the course (including the science of the prescribed papers) rather than issues relating to the presentations per se.


Students will be asked to write two essays on the content of the course, chosen from 4 titles.

Recommended background texts, in most college libraries:

  • ‘Cancer’ chapter of Alberts B. et al., Molecular Biology of the Cell (Garland Publishing). 4th Edition 2002 (grey cover) or 5th edition 2008 (red cover). (Note that the 3rd edition, brown cover, is significantly out of date).
  • For more details see:
    The Biology of Cancer by R A Weinberg (Garland Publishing 2005).

Option Organiser

Dr Paul Edwards