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BC2024 - Principles of Molecular Cell Biology

Credit points: 3
Year: 2023
Student Contribution Band: Band 2
Administered by: College of Public Health, Medical and Vet Sciences

For students who do not have the required pre-requisites, please seek advice from the Discipline Academic Advisor to enrol

This subject introduces the regulatory systems in cells and organisms which form the basis for pharmacology. It builds on the material covered in the two 1st semester subject BC2013, by addressing how multicellular organisms can control and integrate their metabolic processes and how cells interrelate and communicate with each other. It also shows how disturbances in these processes cause disease and how these pathogenic processes can be normalized by therapeutic drugs. The subject begins with detailed descriptions of the molecular structure and function of biological membranes. Transport across or within biomembranes is an important feature that underpins our understanding of how proteins and drugs move between cells and within a cell. This is the basis of regulation at the metabolic pathway level and is important in understanding the mode of action of many drugs. The subject explores the functions of enzymes, how they work at the molecular level and how inhibitors may interfere with their action. Regulation at the cellular level is explored in detail, examining how signals are communicated at the cell surface to invoke downstream intracellular molecular events, how nerve cells communicate and how cell surface receptors interact with agonists and antagonists. This includes examples of specific molecular ligand-receptor interactions both clinically and those that have been exploited in drug development. Also covered are the major cellular processes, the cell cycle and cell death. Therapeutic and vaccine failure in modern day drug discovery & delivery is explored. This course of lectures should therefore give you a balanced view of how cells are controlled, how they communicate with each other and how chemical agents are able to alter cellular processes.

Learning Outcomes

  • describe cell regulation mechanisms that allow cells to divide, function, move and die in multicellular organisms;
  • discuss signalling by cells using transmembrane receptors, enzymes, proteins and other molecules to relay information between cells and how they can be inhibited;
  • further develop and demonstrate skills in scientific literature research, science communication, laboratory and analytical skills;
  • explain how molecules can be utilized for therapeutic and pharmaceutical means and the experimentation and regulatory processes required;
  • work both independently and cooperatively within an undergraduate university environment.

Subject Assessment

  • Written > Examination (centrally administered) - (50%) - Individual
  • Practicals; Assignments - (50%) - Individual.

Special Assessment Requirements

Participate in and complete all 5 practical classes. Students cannot miss more than 1 practical without extenuating circumstances and approval from the subject coordinator; Attend the final exam (50% weighting) and achieve a score of at least 50%; Achieve a total aggregate score of 50% or more across all assessment items



Townsville, Study Period 2, Internal
Census Date 24-Aug-2023
Coordinator: Professor Ludwig Lopata
Lecturers: Professor Ludwig Lopata, Dr Elecia Johnston, Mr Shaymaviswanathan Karnaneedi.
Workload expectations:

The student workload for this 3 credit point subject is approximately 130 hours.

  • 36 hours lectures
  • 10 hours tutorials
  • 20 hours specialised
  • assessment and self-directed study

Note: Minor variations might occur due to the continuous Subject quality improvement process, and in case of minor variation(s) in assessment details, the Subject Outline represents the latest official information.