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CANC 380 Evolutionary Biology of Cancer

CANC 380 Evolutionary Biology of Cancer

 Fall 2023 (Blended & Online), Winter 2024 (Online)
 Year 3 Optional Course
 9-10 hours/week
 3 units
On-Campus Course
Online Course

CANC 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.


*Previously BMED 380, Evolutionary Biology of Cancer.

Minimum 3rd year (level 3) standing and one of (MICR 270/3.0; MICR 360/3.0; MICR 386/3.0) and one of (BCHM 270/3.0 OR BCHM 218/3.0) or equivalent courses with permission from the instructor.

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

After completing CANC 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.
  1. Communicator
  2. Scholar
  3. Professional
  4. Collaborator

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 – Case Study (40%)

In this multi-part assignment, students will be given a hypothetical case study. 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 – Multimedia Presentation (20%)

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 (5%)

One quiz will be administered in the middle of the term. It will be in the form of multiple-choice questions and/or short answer questions that will test the student’s understanding of the material covered.

Assessment 5 - Final Exam (20%)

Students are required to write an online proctored final exam. The exam will include well-designed multiple choice and short-answer questions, with an emphasis on problem solving, that will test the students’ overall understanding and application of the course material, rather than rote memorization.

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

Required Texts

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