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University Bulletin
Undergraduate Degree Programs

These course descriptions are not being updated as of August 1, 2016. Current course descriptions are maintained in LionPATH.

Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (B M B)

B M B 001 (GN) Understanding the Bases of Human Disease (3) A broad survey of the molecular and cellular factors that contribute to an understanding of selected human diseases.

B M B 001 Understanding the Bases of Human Disease (3)

(BA) This course meets the Bachelor of Arts degree requirements.

B M B 001, Understanding the Bases of Human Disease, is a survey of the most common diseases of humans. In addition to discussing various diseases, symptoms, outcomes, prevention and treatment options, we also study disease processes by describing events at the cellular or DNA level. We will come to appreciate that various cellular, metabolic or genetic problems can give rise to disorders that carry a common name -anemia, for example. One form, Sickle Cell anemia, also provides a good example of another theme of the course: how a small genetically-based problem in one function of one cell type can lead to a cascade of malfunctions with ramifications system wide. How medicines work and how they are metabolized by the body will be discussed. Treatment of the growing problem of drug/drug, drug/food, and drug/"supplement' interactions will also be included.

Any study of infectious disease must be prefaced by a discussion of the proper functioning of the immune system and how its various components work together to fight an infection. The proper function or malfunction of the immune system is also studied for relationships to noninfectious diseases such as cancer and certain genetic disorders. As with any system of the body, the immune system also has its own unique set of disorders: allergy, hypersensitivity, autoimmunity and immune deficiency - congenital and acquired.

In our exploration of infectious diseases, we will look at various mechanisms of infection used by different types of organisms and at strategies the offending organisms might have to fool the immune system, hide from the immune system, or fight against it. A prime example is the ability of HIV to hide from the immune system. Knowing disease mechanisms and the life cycle of the infectious agent can suggest strategies for treatment of the disease. Another focus of this unit will include discussion of emerging and re-emerging diseases.

Human genetic traits and susceptibilities are discussed throughout the course, but we will also address the major genetic disorders, patterns of inheritance, chromosomal disorders and new treatments available for a growing number of such disorders. Included under this topic is the problem of cancer in all of its various forms today. The course addresses issues of normal cell/cancer cell characteristics and the concept of cancer as a "genetic disease". Using the information gleaned from units on cell function, genetics and the immune system, we will explore new treatment options evolving today.

No course on treatment of disease is complete without the study of the two major "lifestyle" diseases: coronary vascular disease and diabetes. We will explore the environmental factors as well as the genetic and infection- related factors often associated with these diseases.

The course is independent of all other B M B courses and does not serve as a prerequisite for any other course.

General Education: GN
Diversity: None
Bachelor of Arts: Natural Sciences
Effective: Fall 2004

Note : Class size, frequency of offering, and evaluation methods will vary by location and instructor. For these details check the specific course syllabus.


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Course descriptions are stored in LionPATH, the University-wide student information system. Please visit the LionPATH Course Catalog to access current course descriptions. At that point, you will be leaving the University Bulletin website.

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