SHE Level 4
SCQF Credit Points 20.00
ECTS Credit Points 10.00
Module Code MHB226379
Module Leader Yvonne Dempsie
School School of Health and Life Sciences
Subject Biological and Biomedical Sciences
  • A (September start)

Pre-Requisite Knowledge

SCQF 9 Human Physiology, Cell Biology and Pharmacology or equivalent

Summary of Content

This module will explore the development of drugs and the translation from pre-clinical studies to clinical trials. The lecture material for this module is largely evidence-based, derived from staff research interests. Ethics and regulation around the use of both animal models of disease and regenerative medicine will be studied. Research into novel drug development in the context of three conditions i) spinal muscular atrophy ii) pulmonary hypertension iii) diabetes will be explored.


Regenerative medicine: Origins of stem cells and principles of stem cell technologies in tissue engineering and regenerative medicine. Ethical considerations. Animal models of disease: Use of animals in translational medicine. Genetic modification of animals. Ethics of animal research: The principles of reduction, refinement and replacement in the use of animals in research. Outline of the UK regulatory system for control of animal experimentation. To include lecture from Linda Horan (BPU manager) and optional tour of the animal facilities. Drug development for pulmonary hypertension : Overview of the pulmonary circulation. Pathophysiology of pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH). Current drugs used to treat PAH, mechanism of action and limitations of these drugs. Pre-clinical and clinical evidence to support use of these drugs. Research strategies to find new drugs for the treatment of PAH. Examples of drug development from pre-clinical stage to clinical trials. Drug development for spinal muscular atrophy: Overview of the genetics and pathophysiology of spinal muscular atrophy (SMA), including neuromuscular junctions. Neuromuscular pathology and systemic pathology and possible underlying pathways, including ubiquitin, splicing and epigenetic mechanisms. Role of gene modifiers in disease severity. Use of animal models of SMA, including mouse and zebrafish models. Development of therapeutics based on known pathophysiology. Drug development for diabetes: Research strategies to find new drugs for the treatment of diabetes. Examples of drug development from pre-clinical stage to clinical trials. Industry perspective: Guest speaker from pharmaceutical company.

Learning Outcomes

On successful completion of the module the student should be able to:1. Critically interpret scientific literature.2. Critically interpret data from various drug discovery methodologies.3. Demonstrate a critical understanding of the principle theories, concepts and principles of drug discovery.

Teaching / Learning Strategy

This module will be shared by various programmes and so lectures will develop themes from basic to advanced ensuring that all students taking the module have the required background. Lectures will largely be evidence-based and thus develop the student's ability to critically analyse new ideas. Each lecturer will use a variety of teaching techniques including interactive techniques such as small group discussion and problem solving. In addition, lectures will be accompanied by tutorials to aid consolidation of material. This will aid broad and deeper learning and promote long-term retention of knowledge. Analytical and communication skills are further developed in debates. Students will be exposed to real world problem solving in the context of drug discovery and the challenges that this creates. This module will provide students with knowledge of translational medicine that is important in both academia and industry and is highly relevant to student employability.

Indicative Reading

Due to the nature of this module, most reading material is in the form of review or primary articles. These will regularly change to reflect the most up to date discoveries. Therefore, details of reading material will be given to students during the lectures.

Transferrable Skills

Through lectures and interactive tutorials students will develop transferrable skills including interpretation and critical analysis of scientific data, communication and problem solving.

Module Structure

Activity Total Hours
Tutorials (FT) 15.00
Independent Learning (FT) 136.00
Assessment (FT) 20.00
Lectures (FT) 29.00

Assessment Methods

Component Duration Weighting Threshold Description
Course Work 01 n/a 40.00 35% Data Analysis
Exam 01 3.00 60.00 35% Essay questions