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CAMB 530 The Cell Cycle and Cancer

CAMB 530: The Cell Cycle And Cancer                                                     9/10/07

Course directors:

Rick Assoian
167 Johnson Pav/6084

J. Alan Diehl
454 BRBll/lll

Steven McMahon
Wistar 4268

Guest Faculty:

Eric J. Brown

Michael Lampson
204I Carolyn Lynch Laboratory

Frank Luca
Room 154E Vet Sciences Bldg

When: Mondays 2:00-4:00 PM

Where: 601 BRB


This is a seminar course, with an additional requirement for a short (review) paper. Each week one or two students will present a seminal paper in the field. The student will first present a brief history of the topic (see list of topics below) and establish why the work was done. The paper will then be analyzed, figure-by-figure through student involvement. A summary will be made of the important findings. Unanswered questions and directions for future work will be presented, accompanied by class discussion. A designated faculty member (coach) will meet with the student before the presentation to offer advice and help ensure that the topic is addressed well, for the benefit of the presenter and the rest of the students. The same faculty member will attend the presentation and provide feedback. A short review of recent important papers on a topic germane to the course will be written and turned in at the end of the course.

The course topics are chosen to familiarize the student with the key principles, the most productive experimental systems, and the seminal studies from an exciting past twenty years of cell cycle research. Illustrations will be made of how cancer can develop from perturbations of cell cycle regulation. The topics unfold by focusing initially on major classes of cell cycle regulatory proteins, mechanisms of regulation, and critical cell cycle transitions. We will then consider deregulation of the cell cycle in cancer.

Date                 Topic                                                        Faculty coach                      Student(s)

9/10                 Orientation and cell cycle overview                   Alan Diehl       

9/17                CDK/Cyclins                                                    Rick Assoian               

9/24                 G1/S (Pocket protein)                                      John Lynch                  

10/1                 S-phase                                                            Alan Diehl       

10/8                 E2F regulators                                                SteveMcMahon                                  

10/22               Mitotic exit                                                       Frank Luca

10/29               Spindle assembly checkpoint                      Michael Lampson

11/5                 Ink4a                                                               Steve McMahon

11/12               p21/p27 (Cip/Kip)                                           Rick Assoian               

11/19               Proteolysis                                                        Alan Diehl

11/26               DNA damage checkpoints                                Eric Brown                                          

12/3                 No class (papers due)                                                  

Presentation                  40%
Participation                 40%    
Paper                           20%


a)         A student will be asked to volunteer to give the first presentation and will receive, in turn, the gratitude of the directors and browny points. Copies of all papers for presentation will be available on the blackboard. Once the enrollment is finalized, students will be randomly assigned presentation topics covering the rest of the course. If the date confers an unusual hardship you may ask the directors to switch.  Presentations should be in the form of a power point presentation.

b)         We will supply you with a short list of suggested references and reviews for each topic by the 2nd class meeting.  Focus the presentation on one or two (related) papers depending upon topic. If you would like to present a paper that is not on the list, please get approval in advance from the faculty coach.  You must choose your paper more than a week before your presentation to provide your fellow students with ample opportunity to read and evaluate the chosen paper.

c)         You can talk to us at any point as you choose your paper or try to understand the paper. However, your final discussion with us should be no later than Friday prior to your presentation date, at a mutually agreed upon time. You must have your talk and slides (powerpoint) prepared prior to going into this meeting. The more you prepare yourself first, the more you learn and the more we can help you and ensure good coverage of the field for the class.

d)         Students will anonymously evaluate each presentation.  This feedback will be given directly to the presenter, and will not be used in grading. On the day you present, you are to stay after class and meet with assigned faculty for feedback.

We encourage students to make a handout for the class on their presentation topic.

We seek to foster a supportive atmosphere in the class while maintaining scientific rigor, keeping people engaged, and learning as much as possible. Asking questions and making comments helps the presenter know if he/she is getting through. In addition, listening actively, assimilating scientific material, and asking questions that clarify or stimulate thought are useful scientific skills that can be honed by practice. There are no bad questions at this stage of your careers and admitting some ignorance is better in the long run than papering it over. If you are unsure about something, chances are others are as well. To underscore these notions, we include participation as a significant part of the final grade. Students should read the paper carefully in advance of the class. Everyone is expected to ask at least one question during class session and bring two potential questions to be turned in at the end of class.

In addition to active participation in the context of the paper presentation, questions relating to the paper (technical, philosophical etc) are encouraged. Active listening, assimilation of scientific material and asking questions that clarify or stimulate thought are useful scientific skills that can be honed by practice. There are no bad questions at this stage of your careers and admitting some ignorance is better in the long run than papering it over. If you are unsure about something, chances are others are as well. Students should read the paper carefully in advance of the class.

You have been commissioned to write a ‘preview’ for Molecular Cell highlighting an article of your choice from any Cell journal, Science or Nature Journal (this includes for example Nature Cell Bio, Nat Gen, Nat Med).  The paper does not have to be in the current issue, but should be no more than one year old.

A.        Choosing a topic
The topic must be different from your lab research and from your own presentation and should not focus primarily on a paper presented in class, but can be on the same topic.  It must still pertain to topics covered in the Cell Cycle and Cancer course (e.g. metabolic regulation of the developing dorsal bud would not be appropriate)

Read the appropriate primary paper(s) and focus your preview on this (and related article if there is one). You can also read recent reviews to help you recognize which questions are unanswered or controversial. Write the paper discussing these papers in the paper format outlined below. 

B.         Format:  Follow formatting instructions provided by Cell journals for a “preview”.  These can be found at “instructions for authors” off any Cell website.

Introduce the topic. Discuss multiple primary papers.  You can read and cite reviews, but you should not simply rewrite a review: exercise your own scholarship.  Critically analyze the results. Formulate an opinion on whether the conclusions are scientifically supported, what is the significance of the paper in the context of the field, and what issues remain. Lastly, propose experiments that will address open issues. This is designed in part to give you practice for your preliminary exams.

C.        Due date: 12/3, the last class day.