MDGE Series of 1 Unit Courses

To satisfy degree requirements (MSc - 6 units) or (PhD - 9 units), students can choose from the MDGE 600- or MDGE 700-series of 1 unit courses listed below. 

All students in the Biochemistry & Molecular Biology graduate program are required to take MDGE 721 (1 unit) + two (1 unit) options in the MDGE 700 series OR MDSC 641.01 (3 units). Registration for MDSC 641.01 is done through your Student Centre. 

Planning ahead? Take a look at the MDGE series Course Planner. This outlines when courses will be offered in a given year. 

Registration for all MDGE 1 unit courses must be done as follows: 

    • Students must complete the MDGE request form and submit it to the course coordinator, Dr. Aaron Goodarzi, at a.goodarzi@ucalgary.ca
    • The course coordinator will check your eligibility and ensure that there are no conflicts. These are typically done in batches in August (for Fall), December (for Winter), and April (for Spring).  
    • If approved, students will be notified of the registration block removal via email and are responsible for registering themselves in the course within 24 hours of that notice.  
    • You will know that you have successfully registered if the course appears in your Student Centre within 24 hours 
    • PLEASE NOTE: Failure to register in your course may result in being assessed late registration fees. 

All course outlines will be available here once they are approved. 

September-October - Available F2019, F2020, F2021, F2022

Dr. Aru Narendran

Objectives and Focus

The learning objective here is for students to gain an understanding the effective use of molecular pathology to identify biomarkers and potential targets for modulation. Explore the concepts of targeting stem cells, identification of small molecular weight inhibitors (drug discovery) and the formulation of clinical trials. Major emphasis will be placed on formulating an effective hypothesis and to design preclinical studies that will include cutting-edge ideas on molecular cancer therapeutics. Objectives include: (i) To understand the role of targeted therapeutics in refractory malignancies, (ii) To identify key concepts of effective preclinical studies in oncology and their contribution to early phase clinical trials, (iii) To learn about the key concepts in new agent discovery programs, (iv) To learn about some of the potential experimental avenues for the identification of effective novel therapeutics for pediatric malignancies.

October - November - Available F2019, F2021

Dr. David Schriemer

Objectives and Focus

The learning objective here is for students to gain a working knowledge of proteomics and metabolomics as it relates to research and cancer biology. We will focus on the objectives of these disciplines, the technologies, methods and informatics used in biological mass spectrometry as applied to the ‘omics.  As much as possible, examples will be drawn from cancer-related disciplines (research or clinical).  Assessment will involve the analysis of a protein sample provided to (or by) the student.  It will require lab-work in the SAMS Centre for Proteomics, and the generation of an informatics report.  Each student will be expected to keep up with assigned readings, and select a paper from the recent literature in either proteomics or metabolomics, for presentation in journal-club style.  

November-December - Available F2020, F2022

Dr. Douglas Mahoney

Objectives and Focus

The learning objective here is for students to gain a working knowledge of tumor immunobiology and immunotherapy. Fundamental and translational topics will be addressed, including:  tumour immunogenicity, tumour immune surveillance and editing, immune escape, active immunotherapy, passive immunotherapy, virotherapy and viral vaccines, therapies targeting immunosuppressive mechanisms, and personalized immunotherapy. A basic understanding of tumour biology and immunology is advantageous but not a prerequisite. Classes will consist of an introductory lecture on the topic, followed by a student presentation (mock PDF presentation) and questions. Other evaluation components include a mock PDF fellowship application and a short final exam.

January - February - Available W2020, W2021, W2022, W2023

Drs. Tara Beattie & Karl Riabowol

Objectives and Focus

The learning objectives here are for students to gain an understanding of the links between cancer & aging, the experimental definition of the cell cycle, drivers and regulators of the cell cycle (including oncogenes & tumor suppressors, cyclins, CDKs, etc.). An overview of biological and replicative aging will include human biological lifespan potential, changes in life expectancy and rectangularization of the survival curve, experimental models used in aging research, forms of aging in mammals and the "Hayflick model" of replicative senescence and the impact of telomerase expression on cellular aging. Students will need to keep up with assigned readings and select a recent paper in the areas of biological aging and/or cancer for presentation to the class, and will be responsible for preparing critiques of the presentations by class mates.

February - March - Available W2020, W2022

Drs. Jennifer Cobb & Aaron Goodarzi

Objectives and Focus

The learning objective here is for students to master the fundamentals of eukaryotic chromatin assembly, dynamic chromatin regulation (during differentiation, cell cycle progression and the DNA damage response) and post-translational modifications that comprise the field of epigenetics. We will cover the concepts of DNA methylation, histone acetylation, histone methylation, histone phosphorylation (and other histone PTMs), histone variants, regulatory siRNA, nucleosome remodelling and higher-order chromatin organization. Cancer and aging-associated epigenetic alterations will be discussed in detail. Experimental methodologies for epigenetics, both historical and modern, will be reviewed in detail via publication-focused presentations by lecturers and students. 

March - April - Available W2020, W2022

Drs. Susan Lees-Miller & Gareth Williams

Objectives and Focus

The learning objective here is for students to gain an understanding of the major DNA repair pathways in eukaryotic cells, highlighting proteins involved in the cellular responses to ionizing radiation or anti-cancer chemotherapy. We will cover the main DNA repair pathways including base excision repair, mismatch repair, nucleotide excision repair, and DNA single strand and double strand break repair.  We will stress the mechanisms of non-homologous end joining and homologous recombination repair.  The topics of ATM and ATR dependent signaling, H2AX foci and roles of protein phosphorylation and protein ubiquitination, the Fanconi Anemia pathway, and the relationship of replication stress and telomere maintenance to the DNA damage response will be covered. 

January - February - Available W2020, W2021, W2022, W2023

Drs. Shirin Bonni & Donna Senger

Objectives and Focus

The learning objective here is for students to gain an understanding of current literature in cancer cell biology with an emphasis on how they relate ti developmental systems.  Background in cell biology and signal transduction is essential.  Topics in the general area of cell biology will be selected for each of the students based on their own research projects such that it enhances their learning experience.  Topics covered include: 1./ Cancer stem cells, 2./ Cell polarity, 3./ Cell migration,  4./ endocytosis 5./ mitochondrial biogenesis to name a few areas that have been covered in the past.

February - March - Available W2020, W2022

Dr. Paul Beaudry

Objectives and Focus

The learning objective here is for students to gain an understanding of the interaction of the cancer cell with the host stroma.  Angiogenesis, cell invasion and metastasis  will be discussed from molecular, cell biological and clinical perspectives.   Methods of experimental modelling of metastatic behavior and angiogenesis, as well as their respective advantages and limitations will be discussed.  There will be lab demonstration of available in vitro and in vivo invasion/metastasis/angiogenesis models. Students will be evaluated on the basis of their literature review and presentation on a topic within this area, a focused research proposal, and written assessments of student presentations.

March - April - Available W2021, W2023

Drs. Shirin Bonni & Morley Hollenberg

Objectives and Focus

The learning objective here is for students to gain an understanding of the fundamental principles and regulation of receptor-mediated and intracellular-mediated signaling pathways that have important implications in cancer biology.  Lectures will be given covering various topics in signaling including a general introduction on receptor and intracellular signaling mechanisms with focus on receptor tyrosine kinase (RTK) and serine/threonine kinase receptor signaling, regulation and function of the intracellular tyrosine kinase Src and its downstream signaling, and role of phosphatase in signaling.  Students will also be presenting journal club presentations on assigned papers in areas that complement the lecture materials where other concepts or pathways in signaling are covered. 

November - December - Available F2020, F2022

Drs. Minh Dang Nguyen & Guang Yang

Objectives and Focus

The learning objective here is for students to gain an understanding of fundamental principles of central nervous system development. The module encompasses the first third of MDSC 619.01, which is a core course for all Neuroscience graduate students. The first third of MDSC619.01 can be taken as a stand-alone module. It will cover basic principles of neural induction and neurogenesis, regionalization of the neural tube, neuronal migration, circuit formation (axons and dendrites), neurodevelopmental disorders, and model organisms. Students will be evaluated in a final exam and in two assignments. The first assignment will be to write a News and Views article on a recent publication in neural development, and the second will be a Presentation of new animal models for neurological diseases. 

October - November - Available F2019, F2020, F2021, F2022

Drs. Pina Colarusso & Grant Gordon

Objectives and Focus

The Light Microscopy Module is targeted to students who have little formal training in optical microscopy. The learning objective here is for students to gain a working knowledge of the fundamentals of standard wide-field fluorescence microscopy. Key concepts such as the optical light path, spatial resolution, and sampling will be emphasized. In addition, students will have the opportunity to assemble basic bright-field and fluorescence microscopes using optical “lego.” The module blends lectures, small group discussions, and hands-on activities; a high degree of participation will be expected.

November - December - Available F2019, F2020, F2021, F2022

Drs. Pina Colarusso & Grant Gordon

Objectives and Focus 

Advanced techniques in optical microscopy will be covered through a combination of lectures, demonstrations,  and hands-on activities.  Topics include confocal and multiphoton microscopy as well as selected emerging techniques.  A high degree of interactivity is expected from learners.

Principles of Light Microscopy (MDGE 632) or the permission of the instructors is required.

May - Available P2019, P2020, P2021, P2022

Drs. Jennifer Cobb & Aaron Goodarzi

Objectives and Focus

This core module covers landmark discoveries in biochemistry and molecular biology (BMB), summarizes new and evolving BMB technologies, and how these can be implemented into modern research programs. Students will learn how to apply the scientific method at an advanced graduate level, technical and ethical considerations surrounding data analysis, and essential skills for communicating scientific discoveries in the realm of peer-reviewed publication, presentation and grant application contexts.

Sept-Oct  - Available F2019, F2020, F2021, F2022

Drs. James McGhee & Susan Lees-Miller

Objectives and Focus

This module encompasses a graduate-level understanding of how nucleotides are synthesized, utilized and degraded in cells. Students will gain an understanding of structure-function relationships for nucleic acids, advanced knowledge of the enzymatic basis of DNA replication, how genes are read, how the transcribed RNA is processed, and how genes are regulated through a coordinated collaboration between proteins and nucleic acid sequences. Emerging technologies in the study of nucleic acids and RNA at a molecular level will be reviewed.

October - November - Available F2019, F2020, F2021, F2022

Drs. Savraj Grewal & Justin MacDonald

Objectives and Focus

This module encompasses a graduate-level understanding of how proteins are synthesized, modified and degraded in cells. Students will gain an understanding of structure-function relationships for amino acids, knowledge of the enzymatic basis of protein translation, how ribosomes are synthesized and regulated, how proteins are folded and may be modified post-translationally by enzymatic and non-enzymatic means. Emerging technologies in the study of proteins and post-translational modifications at a molecular level will be reviewed.

January - February - Available W2020, W2021, W2022, W2023

Drs. Sorana Morrisey & Laura Sycuro

Objectives and Focus

This module introduces key bioinformatics concepts and practices, as well as the basic knowledge of how to access resources for graduate-level biologists who are not bioinformatics specialists. Students will become conversant in essential bioinformatics terminologies, and discussions will encompass how to use bioinformatics to infer information about an organism from its genome. Students will gain practical experience with bioinformatics tools and develop basic skills in the collection and presentation of bioinformatics data.

February - March - Available W2020, W2021, W2022, W2023

Drs. Maja Tarailo-Graovac & Marco Gallo

Objectives and Focus

This module introduces high throughput DNA sequencing technologies and genome-wide association genetics that are rapidly changing the landscape of various fields of biological and medical research. Students will gain an overview of the available genomics technologies and their applications for high throughput discovery in biology (model organisms) and medicine (cancer and Mendelian disease genomics). Discussions will also encompass research ethics considerations for collecting, storing and using human genomic data.

March - April - Available W2020, W2021, W2022, W2023

Drs. David Schriemer & Gareth Williams

Objectives and Focus

Students will learn how to describe structures of biological macromolecules and explain, at a graduate level, the most commonly occurring methods for determination and analysis of the three-dimensional structure of biomolecules. Instructors will provide an overview of biophysical and structural methods used to study the regulation and function of biomolecules, tutorials on commonly available structural visualization software and resources and how structure-guided drug design is being used for pre-clinical drug discovery.