Susan L Mcnabb
B CUSP 140
Offers introductory practice in laboratory and quantitative techniques, a history of one or more of the sciences, and reflection on the relationship between science and its function in the larger society. Topics vary. Offered: AWSp.
Spring 2013: Cancer: Biology, Risk and Treatment
Cancer is the second leading cause of death in the U.S. In the past, a diagnosis of cancer was like a death sentence--thankfully, that is usually no longer the case due to improvements in detection and treatment. In our course, we will address these key questions:
• What is cancer? What are the similarities and differences between different types of cancers? • What causes cancer and metastasis? • Why is cancer so hard to cure, or even to detect? • What are risk factors and how can we keep our risk low? • What treatments are available now, and what new treatments are being developed?
Cancer is an excellent model for exploring environmental and intrinsic causes of disease; the roles of gene expression, cell division and stem cells in normal development and in cancer; and the methods used to assess and diagnose the scope and impact of cancer. This course will provide students with an understanding of the scientific process, with a focus on cancer, that will help them on their journeys to become more informed citizens, advocates, scientists or medical professionals.
Student learning goals
You will learn about cancer, the second leading cause of death in the US, and its impacts on the individual and society.
You will learn about the scientific process as you examine and evaluate facts and statistics, synthesize new information, and ask questions about the future of research and treatment.
You will learn to use authoritative websites such as the one administered by the National Cancer Institute and PubMed to perform research.
You will develop a deeper understanding of gene expression, cell biology and the immune system, and their roles in cancer.
You will perform critical and creative inquiry, enhance your quantitative and qualitative literacy, consider ethics, social responsibility and inclusive practices, and improve your written and verbal communication skills through a combination of group and individual exercises.
General method of instruction
We will use these main approaches: • Lectures and media to introduce and develop course concepts • Guest lecturers to discuss new developments in research and therapies • In-class interactive exercises to clarify and strengthen understanding • Homework to clarify, reinforce and extend in-class learning • Online quizzes and two exams (mid-term and final) • Long-term project: Interview a Scientist
Prerequisites: While there are no prerequisites, exposure to biology at the high school level is expected. A brief questionnaire will be administered the first class day to assess student preparation.
Writing: Be prepared to write paragraphs or brief essays and to summarize conclusions, as we evaluate statistics or scientific graphs and figures.
Math: Basic math and statistics will be needed to assess cancer frequency and risk. The ability to interpret basic graphs and tables is expected.
Be ready to participate.
Class assignments and grading
You will have regular reading assignments and will earn a grade through weekly short-answer homework or online quizzes, in-class interactive exercises, mid-term and final exams, and a long-term project: Interview a Scientist.