Growth Control and Cancer

Growth Control and Cancer
Biol. 172b Spring 2016
Meets Tuesdays and Fridays, 9:30-10:50 am
Instructor: Dr. Rachel Woodruff ([email protected])
Office hours: Wednesdays 2-3pm in Bassine 202, or by appointment
Course description: This course will introduce the molecular basis of cancer, the history of
cancer research, and many experimental approaches that have been used in cancer research. You
will practice and develop your skills in observation and interpretation of scientific data, reading
and understanding primary research papers, and developing thoughtful biological questions, as
well as in discussion and oral presentation.
Who should take this course? Before taking this course, you must have completed Biol15b,
Biol14a, and Chem25a. It is also recommended that you take Biol16a and Biol18 prior to
Biol172b. Do not take this class unless you are willing to read a lot of research articles. More
experienced students generally get more out of this class, so if you are considering taking it as a
sophomore, I recommend that you consider putting it off. We plan to offer the course next in
spring 2018.
Learning Goals: Students will…
1. Gain skills, experience, and confidence in interpreting experimental results and research
2. Understand of how tumors evolve.
3. Understand some of the key regulatory pathways affected in cancer cells.
4. Understand how researchers have identified and categorized cancer-driving mutations.
5. Understand the molecular basis of some targeted cancer therapies.
6. Understand several experimental approaches used in cancer research.
Course format
This is an Experiential Learning course. All of us know people who have suffered from cancer,
and many of you hope to become physicians or researchers who will study or treat cancer
professionally. Understanding the molecular basis of cancer allows us to fight it much more
effectively. In this class, you will be an active learner, not just a consumer of information: you
will be working together as a team to construct your understanding of cancer biology, to read and
interpret experiments and research studies, and to develop your own communication skills. In
addition, you will write a series of short, connected papers over the course of the semester, in
order to apply the basic principles of the course to a particular type of cancer which has personal
or professional relevance to you. You will also gain deeper insights from periodic reflection on
your own learning and on the process of scientific research.
Time commitment: Plan to spend at least 9 hours per week on work for this class outside of class
meetings. Success in this 4 credit hour course is based on the expectation that students will
spend a minimum of 9 hours of study time per week in preparation for class (readings, papers,
discussion sections, preparation for exams, etc.).
1. Readings and homework: Before each class meeting, you will need to read the assigned
textbook, research articles or other readings. For nearly every class (that is, twice each
week), homework will be due online by 5pm on the day before that class.
Some typical types of homework assignments will be:
thoughtful comments on readings
short papers requiring additional independent reading on your part
answering assigned questions or problems
preparing, and in some cases recording, brief presentations on class topics
articulating thoughtful questions based on the readings
2. In class: Come to class ready to participate (see note on experiential learning above)!
Some of our class activities will include:
- small group discussions to interpret data or synthesize complex information
- student-generated discussion of data related to the day’s topic (“evidence-based
discussion” format)
- short lectures
- student presentations
- class discussion of cancer topics and research
Cell phones and laptops will be prohibited in class if they interfere in group discussions or other
class activities.
Text: The Biology of Cancer, by Robert A. Weinberg. Garland Science, publ. Second Edition,
ISBN 978-0-8153-4220-5
The textbook will be an important resource to you in developing a general understanding of
cancer biology, and in understanding and presenting the research articles.
Additional readings will be posted on LATTE. There will be many!
Grade Determination:
Homework assignments
A variety of assignments intended to help you master course content and develop
skills in interpreting research articles, making presentations, applying concepts.
Attendance and participation in class
Being present and engaged during class is very important to this class.
Leading class
Small student groups take turns leading parts of lecture.
A mix of in-class and take-home quizzes test your understanding of cancer
biology concepts.
Final paper
A paper using principles of cancer biology to explain a particular cancer, and
relating this to the course as a whole and to your own past or future experience
Final group presentation
Groups of 3 students present research - nstead of final exam!
Disabilities: If you are a student with a documented disability on record at Brandeis University
and wish to have a reasonable accommodation made for you in this class, please see me
Academic Integrity: You are expected to be familiar with and to follow the University’s
policies on academic integrity (see ). Faculty may
refer any suspected instances of alleged dishonesty to the Office of Student Development and
Conduct. Instances of academic dishonesty may result in sanctions including but not limited to
failing grades being issued.
Course schedule: Note: schedule is subject to change! “HW” = homework, which is due by
11pm the day before class unless I tell you otherwise.
Subject and Assignments due day before class
Week 1
Introduction to Cancer Biology and Course Plan
Jan 15 (F)
Read Weinberg Chapter 1 (all)
Read Weinberg section 16.2, pp 806-813
Preliminary self-assessment due on LATTE on Jan 15
Week 2
Tumor development and Carcinogens; Student Group formation (T)
Read Weinberg Chapter 2 (all)
Jan 19
HW: Disease Paper #1 due by 11pm Jan 18
Read Ames
Jan 22
HW: NB Assignment #1 due by 11pm Jan 21
Week 3
Driver mutations, tumor evolution, and cell-based assays
Group 1 leads part of class Jan 26.
Read Weinberg p439-68 (Chapter 11. 11.1-11.8)
HW: Methods presentation #1
Group 2 leads part of class Jan 29.
Read Fialkow reiew and Al-Hajj article
HW: NB Assignment #2
HW: Peer response #1
Week 4
Week 5
Tumor Viruses: retroviruses, oncogenes, and transformation
Quiz 1 Read Weinberg Chapter 3
HW: Problems #1
Group 3 leads part of class Feb 5.
Read Martin and Stehelin papers
HW: NB assignment #3
Discovery of Oncogenes
Group 4 leads part of class Feb 9.
Read Weinberg Chapter 4
HW: Disease Paper #2
Group 5 leads part of class Feb 12.
Read Hunter 1980 and Tabin 1982 and pp180-202
HW: NB assignment #4
Jan 26
Jan 29
Feb 2
Feb 5
Feb 9
Feb 12
Winter Vacation Feb 15-19
Week 6
Cell-surface receptors and cancer
Feb 23
Read Weinberg from Chapters 5&6: pp131-53 and 164-180
Quiz 2: take-home
Group 6 leads part of class Feb 26.
Read Doolittle 1983; Fleming 1989; Kraus
Feb 26
HW: NB assignment #5
HW: Mid-term Reflection
Week 7
Discovery of tumor suppressors
Group 7 leads part of class March 1.
Read Weinberg Chapter 8
HW: Methods presentation #2
Group 8 leads part of class March 4.
Read Benedict 1982, Takahashi 1991,
Donehower 1982
HW: NB assignment #6
HW: Peer Response #2
Week 8
Week 9
Week 10
Tumor suppressor genes, functions, and pathways
Quiz 3 Reading: Weinberg from Chapter 9: pp331-58
HW: Problems #2
Group 9 leads part of class March 11.
Read Donehower; Laviguer; Jackson 2012
HW: NB assignment #7
Pathways and allele combinations; Groups discuss topics (T)
Group 10 leads part of class on March 15.
Read Weinberg Chapter 11, sections 11.9 to end
HW: Disease assignment #3
Field Trip TBA
Quiz 4: Take-home
Driver mutations and pathways
Group 11 leads part of class March 22.
Read Sinn 1987, Hahn 1999, Heckl 2013
HW: NB assignment #8
HW: Group assignment: Topic Statement
March 1
March 4
March 8
March 11
March 15
March 18
March 22 (T)
No class Friday
Week 11
Week 12
Driver mutations and tumor evolution
Group 12 leads part of class March 29.
Read Chapter 6 (pp202-228 is new)
HW: Methods presentation #3
Group 13 leads part of class April 1
Read Barbieri 2013 and Landau 2013
HW: NB assignment #9
HW: Peer Response #3
March 29
April 1
Therapeutic targets
Quiz 5 Read Weinberg pp 815-833 and pp778-85
HW: Problems #3
Group 14 leads part of class April 8
Read Slamen and Bergers 1999
HW: NB assignment #10
HW: ID 3 new research articles of interest
April 5
April 8
Week 13
BCR-ABL; Groups meet about papers (T)
Group 15 leads part of class April 12
Read Weinberg pp833-44; read de Klein 1982
April 12
HW: Methods presentation #4
Group 16 leads part of class April 15
Read Buchdunger 1996; Gorre 2011; 1 additional paper April 15
HW: NB assignment #11
Week 14
ncRNAs in cancer, Group meetings (T), Conclusions (F)
Read Young; Lee; Gutschner; Sanchez
HW: Disease paper #4
Group 17 leads part of class April 21 (Thursday)
Read Weinberg section 16.18 (pp866-74)
HW: Peer Response #4
HW: NB assignment #12
April 19
Apr 21
Spring Vacation: April 22-29
Final Paper and Reflection Due (no class meeting)
Final Group Presentations
May 3
Final Exam Block: TBD
Tentative date: May 10, 6-9pm