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This course examines cancer biology from a molecular, genomics, and genetics perspective with relevance to both human and animal cancers. The teaching is shared between leaders of research groups in the Departments of Pathology, Genetics, Haematology, and Oncology. It also includes teaching from research group leaders at the CRUK Cambridge Institute and the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute.


The Course

The course begins with the transition from normal cells to cancer cells, examining the key mechanisms and signaling pathways involved. Students gain insights into the dynamics of cancer genomes, studying the mutations and rearrangements that drive progression and result in genomic instability. Further exploration is made into the roles of tumour suppressors and oncogenes within cancer cells, as well as the roles of cell senescence and telomeres in cancer progression.

The middle of the course examines epigenetics, transcription factors, and transcription networks in cancer, highlighting how these molecular players modulate gene expression and cellular behaviors in malignant cells. The role of the tumour microenvironment is also covered with application to how the microenvironment can be targeted with therapies. This section of the course concludes with understanding the role of stem cells in oncogenesis, as well as the potential of microRNAs for cancer diagnosis and monitoring.

Finally, the course examines various models of cancer, offering insights into experimental systems and approaches used to study the disease. Special attention is given to hereditary and pediatric cancers, particularly Ewing’s tumour, Wilms tumour, and neuroblastoma. The course concludes with the etiology, progression, and potential therapeutic strategies for lymphoma.


Research Projects

Students will have the opportunity to engage in a research project at the forefront of cancer research and will join one of the cancer laboratories situated at Tennis Court Road or Addenbrooke's Hospital. These projects encompass a diverse array of subjects, delving into cancer cell biology, molecular biology, and genomics. The research projects also span various disciplines, ranging from wet lab experimentation to computational biology and AI.


Examples of Current/Previous Projects

· Creating a dataset to train a machine learning model to diagnose coeliac disease

· Optimisation and validation of a new diagnostic test for T-cell lymphoma, based on the TRBC1 and TRBC2 gene segments

· Validating microRNA markers in Wilms tumour

· Developing a computational framework for understanding the interplay between RNA expression profiles and DNA replication dynamics in cancer cells

· Mutational profiling of Lymphomas using next generation sequencing