Queen's University
BMED 380 Evolutionary Biology of Cancer

BMED 380, Evolutionary Biology of Cancer is a third-year online course designed to introduce students from various biological sciences and allied health backgrounds to cancer as an evolutionary problem. The course focuses on the effect of the local tumour environment on the progression of cancer and uniquely emphasizes the impact of the immune system in fighting cancer while at the same time shaping tumour cell evolution. In addition, the course will cover the effect on malignant progression of other factors present in the tumour environment, such as oxygenation levels.

Minimum 3rd year (Level 3) standing + (one of MICR 270; BCHM 270; BCHM 218 (prerequisite)) or MICR 360 (corequisite) or permission of the instructor.

Teaching strategies for BMED 380 will include provided online materials, live discussions and individual assignment submissions via BrightSpace (onQ).

After completing BMED 380, students will be able to:

  1. Recognize the impact of cancer on society and major milestones in cancer research to appreciate the successes of therapies and to assess the need for further development.
  2. Acquire a basic understanding of the evolutionary nature of cancer to recognize and evaluate the contribution of tumour heterogeneity and plasticity to cancer progression.
  3. Analyze the tumour microenvironment to define its role in tumour invasion and its link to metastasis.
  4. Characterize the role of immunity and inflammation in cancer and to define their contributions to cancer control or progression.
  5. To apply an understanding of therapeutic selectivity to identify and evaluate the potential benefits and adverse effects of different therapeutic interventions in cancer.

All assignments will be graded using marking rubrics.

Assessment 1 – Discussion Board Posts (15%)

Students will post weekly responses to discussion questions related to module content. They will be evaluated on both the quality of their post and their responses to their peers.

Assessment 2 – Written Assignment: Prostate Cancer Case Study (20%)

In this multi-part assignment, students will be given a hypothetical case study pertaining to either prostate or ovarian cancer. The case study will follow the patient’s journey from diagnosis. Students will be responsible for answering questions that will be used to evaluate their understanding of material covered throughout each section of the course. This assignment will prompt students to consider unique aspects of cancer progression and treatment specific to their assigned case study.

Assessment 3 – Powerpoint Presentation (40%)

In this assignment, students will connect ideas learned in modules to study the molecular mechanisms relating regulatory B cells to malignant progression and metastasis. They will present their findings in a narrated powerpoint, and include research obtained from a primary paper.

Assessment 4- Section Quiz (25%)

Three section tests will be administered at the end of each learning topic. Section tests will be in the form of multiple choice question and/or short answer questions that will test the student’s understanding of the material covered.

Students can expect to spend approximately 9–10 hours a week in study, practice and online activity for BMED 380.

Required Texts

BMED 380 course notes via modules will be posted online and select readings will be made available by the instructor.

Academic integrity is constituted by the five core fundamental values of honesty, trust, fairness, respect and responsibility (see www.academicintegrity.org). These values are central to the building, nurturing and sustaining of an academic community in which all members of the community can thrive. Adherence to the values expressed through academic integrity forms a foundation for the “freedom of inquiry and exchange of ideas” essential to the intellectual life of the University; see Senate Report on Principles and Priorities http://www.queensu.ca/secretariat/policies/senate/report-principles-and-priorities.

Students are responsible for familiarizing themselves with the regulations concerning academic integrity and for ensuring that their assignments conform to the principles of academic integrity. Information on academic integrity is available in the Bachelor of Health Sciences Program Calendar (see Academic Regulation 1), and from the instructor of this course. Departures from academic integrity include plagiarism, use of unauthorized materials, facilitation, forgery and falsification, and are antithetical to the development of an academic community at Queen’s. Given the seriousness of these matters, actions which contravene the regulation on academic integrity carry sanctions that can range from a warning or the loss of grades on an assignment to the failure of a course to a requirement to withdraw from the university.