Genes & Brains
For Prospective Medical Students
A One-Day Tutorial On Molecular Genetics & Neuroscience
This tutorial is thus intended to serve as a comprehensive primer in neuroscience and modern genetic principles applied to medicine and biomedical science, developing knowledge beyond the A-Level curriculum and preparing students for degree-level study.
Over the past twenty years there have been astounding advances in our understanding of the workings of the human brain and nervous system. The multidisciplinary research attempts to understand brain function are collectively referred to as neuroscience. Undergraduate medical students usually first encounter neuroscience in their second year of study, receiving up to 50 related lectures and tutorials. Medical students must also become proficient in clinical genetics. Like neuroscience, genetics is currently one of the most rapidly developing areas of academic and clinical study. Estimates of the number of protein-coding genes in the human genome are constantly being revised (with the latest figures suggesting fewer than 20,000 genes). In years to come, the genome map and proteomics are likely to revolutionise the practice of medicine and dramatically increase our knowledge of preventing and treating many diseases.
In addition to reviewing elementary principles of brain function and medical genetics, this tutorial will introduce the student to modern scientific theories and findings, such as neuroplasticity in healthy and diseased nervous systems and neuroimaging, in neuroscience; and cancer epigenetics, DNA methyltransferase inhibition and state-of-the-art technologies for selective in vivo gene activation, in genetics.
Which Students Will Benefit?
This tutorial is designed primarily for able A-Level biology and/or chemistry students intending to read medicine at University. It will also be useful to students intending to read biomedical sciences and pharmacology.
There are three main aims to this tutorial:
to provide the student with an overview of some elementary principles in neuroscience and genetics.
to examine what happens when the brain becomes damaged, disorganised and degenerates, with accompanying clinical examples.
to explore modern conceptions of disease aetiology, considering how abnormal gene function translates into disease processes, with a focus on molecular cancer genetics.