PSL1040H - Systems Biology in Physiology

Course Coordinators:  B. Cox

Systems biology is a recent area of science that links general medical scientific research approaches with ‘large scale’ analyses. The overall goal of systems biology science is to connect complex biological networks with biochemical and physiological outcomes. Systems biology platforms include many of the 'omic' disciplines such as: genomics, epigenetics, transcriptomics, network signaling, metabolomics, interactomics, lipidomics and proteomics.

Links between cellular physiology and systems biology have profound significance to our understanding of general physiology. This course will teach students of these recent developments, and importantly, enable them to extract and utilize information at the systems biology level.

The course will begin with a set of general lecture overviews of the approaches available, basic theory, and application. The remaining lectures will be student-driven, seminar-based discussions with Faculty members as facilitators of this discussion. We will cover the major systems biology literature and technical approaches. The general course detail will be relatively narrow given the topics covered, however the written essay will provide the student sufficient opportunity to explore one area in greater detail.

The course will consist of 12 sessions, 2 hours each, as outlined below:
Week 1. Course Organization, marking scheme and time-table
Week 2. Introductory lectures by instructors
Week 3. Overview lecture by instructors
Weeks 4-12. Research paper presentation and discussion by students

Course Format:
Two trainee presentations (30 min each) per 2 h class based on papers in the selected areas, to be followed by general discussion. Original papers, reviews and/or pertinent book chapters will be used as the basis for trainee presentations and discussion, and will be selected by the faculty facilitators with input from the trainees. Active participation in discussions will be a requirement. For each presentation, two trainee discussants in addition to the presenter will be assigned to review the paper and asked to come to class with prepared questions. Papers and presentations will span basic science to integrative physiology and medicine. Trainees do not need to have a strong background in all the topics covered as one of the major goals of the course is to broaden the interdisciplinary background of the participants.

Oral presentations - 50%
Original papers will be assigned to the students. Each student will present the paper to the class and offer a critique. Students will present 2-3 times in this class (depending on enrolment), and presentations will be assessed by all faculty members in the classroom.

Written reports: Midterm – 10%
The written reports will be ½ to 1 page mini-reviews and critique on course presentations. These will be provided from all non-presenting students.

Written reports: Final – 25%
The final written report will be a 8-10 page review and critique on an assigned paper relevant to the students research. Students will be expected to incorporate knowledge gained during the course of this class. Papers will be chosen in consultation with Course Instructors.

Participation in discussions - 15%
In order for this class to be a success, student participation is a must. To encourage this, students will be assessed on the basis of his/her roles as discussants and general contribution to the in-class discussions.


Maximum Course Enrollment: