Cancer Biology: Discovering Molecular Mechanisms & Novel Therapeutic Strategies

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This course is under review for 2021. Course registration will open to accepted students once courses are confirmed.

Course Description

This is a Course-based Research Experience (CRE) class that will provide students with the chance to propose, design and conduct their own research projects, working on topics and seeking answers to questions that are currently unknown to science.

The prevalence and profound impact of cancer on society has resulted in intensive investment in research leading to numerous advances in cancer prevention, diagnosis and treatment over the last decades. However, cancer still poses a unique biomedical puzzle as it is recognized that cancer is not a single disease, but a collection of disorders with many manifestations that affect various tissues in the human body. This laboratory intensive course will introduce students to experimental design and the performance of independent research. In this course, students will use normal and cancer cell lines to design their own novel hypothesis-driven research project. Students will apply laboratory techniques commonly used by cancer researchers to conduct experiments and analyze data.

Students in this course will work individually and collaboratively in small groups to learn laboratory techniques commonly used in cancer research, such as, cell culture, nucleic acid extraction, PCR, microscopy, immunostaining and Western immunoblotting. The first week of the course will consist of lectures on basic topics in cancer biology, experimental design and how to develop a testable hypothesis. As the course progresses, students will spend the vast majority of their time in the laboratory performing experiments to test their hypothesis. Lectures will be replaced with small group sessions to discuss results and next steps. Students will be responsible for keeping a laboratory notebook and preparing a formal laboratory report in the form of a scientific manuscript. Students will also present their findings to the class in an elevator pitch.

As a result of completing this course students will have learned or be able to:
1. Critically read and analyze primary scientific literature
2. Illustrate how basic research translates into novel therapeutic approaches
3. Perform basic laboratory practices used in the field of cancer biology
4. Formulate and test a novel hypothesis using current molecular techniques
5. Properly keep a laboratory notebook
6. Analyze results and present their findings to scientists and the general public

Prerequisites: Enrollment in this course is by special admission only. Upon acceptance to [email protected] students must then complete a CRE application that will be reviewed. This course is open to advanced students 16 years of age and older who are rising juniors, seniors or will have recently graduated. The investigation of real world medical problems using critical thinking, hypothesis driven experiments, and data analysis requires students to have a strong desire to learn how to conduct independent research, be highly motivated and resilient. Coursework in biology/chemistry is required. Additional coursework in Honors or AP biology/chemistry would be useful, but not required.

Course Information

  • Course Code: CEBI1003
  • Length: 4 weeks
  • Supplemental Fee: $300

Program Information

[email protected]

Brown’s Pre-College Program in the liberal arts and sciences, offering over 200 non-credit courses, one- to four-weeks long, taught on Brown’s campus. For students completing grades 9-12 by June 2021.

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