Medical and Biochemical Science 1

Module aims

The aims of this module are to: Introduce the underlying molecular basis of cellular and sub-cellular processes in cells, with special emphasis for engineers. Introduce students to some of the physiological concepts and systems that are important application areas for technology in the field of bioengineering. Develop the practical laboratory skills to use the technologies introduced in the lectures.

Learning outcomes

Upon successful completion of this module you will be able to: 1 - Identify important features of molecules from drawn structures 2 - Describe the forces responsible for molecular and cellular structure and energy provision within cells and relate the properties of cells to molecular events 3 - Explain regulation, at the DNA, RNA and protein level. 4 - Describe the principles of modern molecular biology techniques 5 - Describe the basic anatomy and physiological control processes relevant to the human cardiovascular and respiratory systems 6 - Use appropriate technologies to measure relevant indicators of physiological performance and discuss the general application of technology in the field of bioengineering with specific relevance to medical applications 7 - Select and apply appropriate techniques in a wet-lab setting to investigate a problem or conduct an experiment in a safe and effective manner 8 - Distinguish valid measurements from mistakes, and explain error estimation and be able to make accurate measurements

Module syllabus

This module will cover the following topics: Molecules and forces: Interpreting shape from simple stick structures of molecules, chirality and molecular shape, magnitude and length scales of different types of forces acting on biomolecules Shape in 2D: Lipids, force based explanation of surface monolayer formation, lipid bilayers, mosaic model of cell membranes, membrane permeability. Shape in 3D: Protein formation from amino acids, peptide bond rigidity, primary, secondary, tertiary protein structures, and intermolecular forces that stabilise them Energy use and provision within cells: Processes that consume energy, primary energy sources, secondary energy carriers - NADH, ATP, ion gradients. Outline of glucose metabolism - glycolysis, TCA cycle, oxidative phosphorylation. Example of electron transport chain in mitochondria, production of proton gradient in mitochondria, generation of ATP via molecular machine ATP synthase Cells: Identification of cellular components including overview of: function of cell membranes, function of membrane transporters and proteins, function of different cellular organelles, function of metabolism and transport in cells. Molecular Biology: Structure of nucleic acids, DNA and chromosomes, basic information content of DNA, DNA replication and mitosis, gene organisation and transcription, protein translation and post translational modification. Biotechnology: Description of techniques used to study DNA, RNA and genes, new technology applied in the field of genomics, dedicated seminars for coursework in the second year. The respiratory system: structure and function of the airways, ventilation and lung mechanics, alveolar structure, gas transport, control of breathing. The Cardiovascular System: overview of the system, heart anatomy, mechanics of the cardiac cycle, cardiac electrophysiology, the ECG, control of cardiac output, the large arteries, introduction to haemodynamics, roles of arterioles, control of arterioles, water and solute exchange in the microcirculation, return of substances to the heart in lymph and veins, integrated control of the cardiovascular system. The nature of physiological control systems will be emphasised throughout. The module is linked to two practicals where students will assess their breathing patterns and ECG

Teaching methods

Students will be taught over two terms using a combination of lectures, labs and study groups. Lecture sessions will be made available online or on Panopto for review and supplemented with technologies to promote active engagement during the lecture such as 'learning catalytics'. Study groups and labs will be based on taught content from lectures to reinforce these topics and allow students to test their understanding. Some study groups will be conducted using a Team based learning approach to encourage students to discuss their ideas and benefit from peer instruction.


The module will be assessed by a final exam and submission of a lab portfolio which will include a number of lab reports. At least one formative lab report will also be submitted and returned with feedback. 

Reading list