Prerequisite: 15:282 or permission of Instructor.

As the death toll from infectious disease has declined in the Western world, cancer has become the second leading cause of death, topped only by heart disease. In most organs and tissues of a mature animal, a balance is maintained between cell renewal and cell death. The various types of mature cells in the body have a given life span; as these cells die new cells are generated by the proliferation and differentiation of various types of stem cells. This cell growth and proliferation are essential for wound healing and homeostasis. Under normal circumstances in the adult, the production of new cells is regulated so that the number of any particular cell type remains fairly constant. Occasionally, however cells arise that no longer respond to normal growth control mechanisms; these cells proliferate in an unregulated manner, giving rise to cancer. This course will provide a comprehensive examination of the cancer cell and the mechanism(s) of cancer. Some topics to be discussed include tumor cells and the onset of cancer, the genetic basis of cancer, cancer and the misregulation of growth regulatory pathways, cancer and mutation of cell division and checkpoint regulators, and carcinogens and caretaker genes in cancer.


3 lecture hours per week, one term.