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 Cancer Biology: From Basic Research to the Clinic  posted by  duggu   on 12/8/2007  Add Courseware to favorites Add To Favorites  
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 Kim, Carla, and Kevin Haigis, 7.342 Cancer Biology: From Basic Research to the Clinic, Fall 2004. (Massachusetts Institute of Technology: MIT OpenCourseWare), (Accessed 07 Jul, 2010). License: Creative Commons BY-NC-SA

Diagram of the cell death process known as apoptosis.
Diagram of the programmed cell death process known as apoptosis. Studies of defects in the apoptosis pathway help elucidate biomolecular mechanisms of cancer cells. (Image courtesy of NASA.)

Course Highlights

This course features a full bibliography in the readings section.



Course Details

The format of the course will involve weekly analysis of two scientific papers. It is essential that everyone read the papers before coming to class so that the papers can be fully dissected, figure by figure, during the sessions.

The success of this class is dependent upon student participation in the discussions. To facilitate this participation, you will be required to submit by email one question pertaining to each assigned paper. The questions will be due by noon on the Monday before class. These questions may be about technical aspects or general background, but, more favorably, should be about how to interpret the data shown in the paper. We will use these questions to stimulate class discussions. 

The main goal of this course is to familiarize you with reading primary scientific literature while learning about cancer biology. You will practice critical reading and discussion of scientific papers and learn to evaluate data and methodologies. You will also be introduced to a variety of modern techniques in the area of animal modeling. On Week 6 we will take a field trip to GenPath Pharmaceuticals, Inc., a biotechnology company founded "to discover and develop innovative cancer therapeutics."


This course will be graded pass/fail. Satisfactory attendance, participation and completion of the assignments will result in a passing grade. If an emergency arises and you need to miss class, please let us know so that we can make arrangements for a make-up assignment.


In addition to the weekly reading assignments, there will be two written assignments.


1 Introduction  
2 Genetic Pathways in Cancer  
3 Cell Cycle Control  
4 Apoptosis  
5 Genomic Stability  
6 Field trip to tour GenPath Pharmaceuticals Project 1 due
7 Tissue Specificity and Cells of Origin  
8 Stem Cells and Cancer  
9 Differentiation and Cancer Project 2 - topic and brief description due
10 Metastasis and Cell-Cell Interactions  
11 Angiogenesis  
12 Rational Design of Cancer Therapeutics  
13 The Future of Cancer Research Final proposal due

Project 2 due


Course Description

This course is one of many Advanced Undergraduate Seminars offered by the Biology Department at MIT. These seminars are tailored for students with an interest in using primary research literature to discuss and learn about current biological research in a highly interactive setting.

In 1971, President Nixon declared the "War on Cancer," but after three decades the war is still raging. How much progress have we made toward winning the war and what are we doing to improve the fight? Understanding the molecular and cellular events involved in tumor formation, progression, and metastasis is crucial to the development of innovative therapy for cancer patients. Insights into these processes have been gleaned through basic research using biochemical, molecular, and genetic analyses in yeast, C. elegans, mice, and cell culture models. We will explore the laboratory tools and techniques used to perform cancer research, major discoveries in cancer biology, and the medical implications of these breakthroughs. A focus of the class will be critical analysis of the primary literature to foster understanding of the strengths and limitations of various approaches to cancer research. Special attention will be made to the clinical implications of cancer research performed in model organisms and the prospects for ending the battle with this devastating disease.   Tell A Friend