MSc Stem Cell and Regenerative Medicine (SCRM)
Stem Cell and Regenerative Medicine is at the forefront of future therapies to repair disease and damaged organs. As the academic research base broadens and industry begins to adopt new technologies, the demand for specialists has increased substantially. As such, this unique research-led course offers high level employment opportunities.
To fine-tune your skills, you'll undertake a research lab project based at our internationally renowned Centre for Stem Cell Biology. Here you will gain experience of the latest human embryonic stem cell techniques. The associated literature review also provides training in a range of transferable skills pertinent to future careers in academia or industry. Through seminars, we encourage you to develop an understanding of the ethical and legal issues associated with the field.
You'll also benefit from our modern research laboratories and equipment. These include purpose-built facilities for drosophila, zebrafish, chick and mouse genetics and for molecular physiology. Other facilities provide all the tools you'll need to examine and analyse a range of cellular structures. We have an electron and a light microscopy centre, a PCR robotics facility, a flow cytometry unit and a dedicated RNAi Screening facility.
Entry Criteria: First class Honours Degree in a Biomedical subject.
Course dates: Starting late September
The course is split into two equal semesters. Modules are undertaken to the value of 180 credits:
- 90 credits of taught modules, including practicals and lectures. This is complemented by an extensive research project and a literature review worth 90 credits.
There are four main elements:
- core research project and literature review (90 credits)
- core critical analysis and ethics and public awareness of science modules (30 credits)
- choice of 2 lecture-based modules (30 credits)
- choice of two laboratory practical-based modules (30 credits)
Note. As the literature review and research project comprise half of the available credits, projects may also be chosen from contributing departments - Engineering Materials or Computer Science.
Examples of previous research projects:
*Small-group teaching classes where you'll discuss, debate, and present on scientific and ethical topics.
**Laboratory placements within the department with one-to-one attention, training and support in carrying out your individual research project.
This list links to the tabled information further down the page.
Core elements (120 credits)
- Literature Review
- Laboratory Research Project
- Critical Analysis of Current Science
- Ethics, Law and Public Awareness of Science
Choice of two practical modules (2x15 credits)
- Human Embryonic Stem Cell Culture Techniques
- Practical Cell Biology
- Practical Developmental Genetics
Note: Numbers of participants may be restricted on practical modules in order to maintain an effective laboratory learning experience.
Choice of two lecture modules (2x15 credits)
Description of Modules
This unit involves an in-depth survey of the current literature relevant to the student’s laboratory research project. It runs before the practical laboratory commences in order to give the student the academic background necessary to complete the laboratory work successfully. Students will carry out an exhaustive search of material relevant to their project using the resources of the University, including appropriate databases and specialist search engines, as well as paper-based resources in the University Library. The unit involves primarily private study by the student under the direction of the project supervisor who will meet the student at regular intervals to ensure satisfactory progress.
Laboratory Research Project
The unit aims to provide students with experience of laboratory research and develop their practical and organisational skills required for a career in science. Students undertake a project related to their area of specialization which reflects the research activities in the Department. Projects will run in the laboratories of the research groups and although students will have contact with various staff, each student will have an identified member of staff as their project supervisor. Students will gain experience of experimental design and execution and in the collation, interpretation and presentation of data. Assessment of the project will be based on; a written report, laboratory performance, delivery and defence of an oral presentation, a poster presentation and an oral examination.
Critical Analysis of Current Science
This unit is designed to develop the student’s ability to read and understand the scientific literature relating to their own research area and also enable them to integrate their own work into the wider scientific field. The unit consists of three components; a tutorial/seminar programme of up to 16 tutorial sessions designed to develop student skills in reading, understanding and criticising scientific literature; attendance at departmentally organised review lectures covering broad areas of science delivered by internationally recognised scientists; participation in all support sessions provided by the research groups in support of their research programme. Each component would be assessed separately with written reports, some undertaken under formal examination conditions.
Ethics, Law and Public Awareness of Science
This unit introduces an outline of the legislative limitations and ethical influences on biomedical science. It will address how these are influenced by public attitudes and explore how these, in turn, are influenced by the scientific community. The unit will contain a factual and objective core, however students will be encouraged to explore, develop and express their own beliefs and value systems.
Human Embryonic Stem Cell Culture Techniques
The unit will be a practical, laboratory based course in which students will learn to culture human embryonic stem (hES) cells and their malignant equivalent, embryonal carcinoma cells. The course will be an intensive two week program in which students will maintain cultures of hES cells, and carry out experiments to determine the expression of marker antigens and genes used to identify the stem cells and monitor their differentiation. They will learn and apply techniques for genetic manipulation of hES cells, and methods for inducing their differentiation. The practical work will be supplemented by lectures directly linked to specific practical sessions.
Practical Cell Biology
The practical unit will provide students with experience of practical cell biology. Students will be given the opportunity to establish and optimise ELISA-based assays for the endocytic pathway and the role of the cytoskeleton will be investigated in aspects of the endocytic process using inhibitors and fluorescence microscopy of fixed cells. Particular emphasis will be placed on the development, execution and interpretation of experimental protocols as is standard practice in a research laboratory.
Practical Developmental Genetics
The practical unit aims to provide students with experience of research techniques in developmental biology. Students will perform experiments designed to reveal molecular and cellular principles underpinning developmental mechanisms. Emphasis will be placed on exploiting classical genetic and molecular resources available in model organisms such as zebrafish, Drosophila melanogaster, and chick for studying gene function in development. Students will gain experience of performing experimental work, data collection and interpretation of results.
Modelling Human Disease
This unit aims to provide students with an understanding of the way that post-genomic developmental biology is impacting on our ability to understand, and treat, human disease. Students will be introduced to some of the major experimental systems and approaches that are pertinent to disease modelling. These include genetically-tractable animal model systems, in vitro cellular systems, including stem cells, and bioinformatics. The principles involved in establishing how these systems can be exploited to develop new strategies for regeneration, and the prevention of degeneration, will be explored. Lectures will be interspersed with critical evaluations of primary research papers, so that students gain experience of analysing experimental work, data presentation and interpretation of results.
Stem Cell Biology
This lecture course will provide a thorough grounding in the biology of stem cells and regenerative medicine, with special reference to the molecular and genetic control of cell fate specification and differentiation. Students will also be encouraged to consider the clinical use of stem cells and their derivatives as well as the ethical issues that these raise. As this is a rapidly developing field, strong emphasis will be placed on understanding the current controversies in the literature.
This unit aims to provide students with knowledge and understanding of elements of bionanotechnology and biology, including: synthetic and natural bionanomaterials, applications of bionanomaterials, characterisation techniques, and applications of bionanoscience to materials research.