MSc
2021 start

Genomic Approaches to Drug Discovery

Department of Biomedical Science, Faculty of Science

On our MSc you'll use the latest automated genomics techniques and develop your professional skills in drug screening, gene discovery and the use of pharmaco-genomics.
Postgraduate in Biomedical lab

Course description

This unique research-led masters course provides laboratory training to future scientists in drug screening and gene discovery using the latest automated genomics techniques. Students will also gain training in pharmaceutical industry practices through direct contact with industry leaders from a wide range of companies.

Your research project will be undertaken in conjunction with the internationally renowned Sheffield RNAi Screening Facility, providing you with world-class training and professional skills in the use of pharmaco-genomics. You’ll also benefit from our modern research laboratories and equipment, including purpose-built facilities for drug screening, laboratory automation, cellular assays, imaging and processing.

Intercalation

We accept medical students who wish to intercalate their studies. Find out more on the Medical School's website.

Apply now

Modules

Core modules:

Literature Review

This unit involves an in-depth survey of the current literature relevant to the student's laboratory research project. It runs before the practical laboratory commences in order to give the student the academic background necessary to complete the laboratory work successfully. Students will carry out an exhaustive search of material relevant to their project using the resources of the University, including appropriate databases and specialist search engines, as well as paper-based resources in the University Library. The unit involves primarily private study by the student under the direction of the project supervisor who will meet the student at regular intervals to ensure satisfactory progress.

30 credits
Research Project

The module aims to provide students with experience of conducting a research project, and develop analytical and organisational skills required for a career in science. Students undertake a research project which reflects the research activities in the Department/Faculty/University. Projects will be supervised by a member of the academic staff, although students may have additional contact with various staff contributing to their training. Students will gain experience of experimental design, and in execution, collation, interpretation and presentation of scientific data.
Assessment of the project will be based on a written dissertation, an evaluation of the research skills developed during the tenure of the project, including keeping a lab book, and delivery of an individual poster presentation.

60 credits
Critical Analysis of Current Science

This module is designed to develop the student's ability to read and understand the scientific literature relating to their own research area and also enable them to integrate their own work into the wider scientific field. The module consists of the following components; a seminar and seminar analysis programme designed to develop student skills in listening, understanding and appraising scientific research presented by external invited speakers; contribution, preparation and presentation of journal clubs reporting on the literature published in the field of biomedical science. In the latter component, students will be expected to demonstrate critical analysis skills, which will be encouraged through questions and discussions in classes. Each component is assessed through formal examination and oral presentation.

15 credits
Ethics and Public Awareness of Science

Those working within public health need to be familiar with secondary data sources that support research, management and practice. This module will consider the main types of secondary data - relating to demography, epidemiology, clinical effectiveness and cost-effectiveness. Strengths, uses, interpretation and limitations of secondary data sources will be examined, assessing these with regard to completeness, accuracy, relevance and timeliness. Students will explore these issues in connection with a case study for a specific country. Scenario planning, confidentiality and the use of computers are other key topics that are illustrated and explored within the module.The module will begin with an introduction to the areas in which legislation impinges on biomedical research. We will then proceed to analyse the processes by which such legislation is made including, especially, the ethical bases for such legislation. To do this we will introduce the students to the philosophical bases of ethical thought and get them to analyse existing laws to discover the ethics that underlies these laws. The students will then be asked to discuss the ethics of specific topics in the form of a formal debate. In addition, we examine how society perceives science and how the process of science itself works and how this influences scientists’ abilities to present their work to the wider community. 

15 credits
Small Molecule and Functional Genomic Screening

This practical module will teach students how to perform small molecule and functional genetic screens, focused on human disease. Emphasis will be placed on how to select the right off-the-shelf assay and if one is not available how to build a new assay specific for their study. Students will take part in experimental screens of small molecules and genetic knock-down screens. Examples of screening methods that will be covered include traditional small molecule screens, modern functional genomics and high throughput phenotypic screens. The emphasis will be to appreciate every step that is involved in this process, from laboratory automation to analysis. Finally, the students will collect and handle data from their screens and visualize the results using modern methods.

15 credits
3D Tissue Culture and Genome Editing

Many of the major pharmaceutical companies are using 3D models of disease and most use genome editing. This practical module will instruct students how to grow cells including 3D tumour spheroids in culture using different growth conditions. Students will learn how to transfect plasmid constructs to induce gene expression changes and use plasmids as molecular reporters of pathway activity. They will experience how to treat cells with RNAi and small molecules and measure the effect of gene expression. Students will grow 3D tissues and 3D tumours in this practical module and perform targeted gene studies. The students will use FACS for cell type selection and use CRISPR genome editing and knock-out techniques to build models of disease. At the end of this module students will have an extensive knowledge of 3D cell culture and the genome editing tools used in drug discovery and how to use them in screening campaigns.

15 credits

Optional modules - two from:

Genomic Approaches to Drug Discovery

The unit will be a practical, laboratory based course in which students will learn to culture human embryonic stem (hES) cells and their malignant equivalent, embryonal carcinoma cells. The course will be an intensive two week programme in which students will maintain cultures of hES cells, and carry out experiments to determine the expression of marker antigens and genes used to identify the stem cells and monitor their differentiation. They will learn and apply techniques for genetic manipulation of hES cells, and methods for inducing their differentiation. The practical work will be supplemented by lectures directly linked to specific practical sessions.The module will teach students the basis of small molecule and functional genetic screens, focusing on human disease. Students will learn about the theory and practice of automated small molecule and genetic screens. Examples of screening methods that will be covered include traditional small molecule screens, modern functional genomics and high throughput phenotypic screens. The emphasis will be to appreciate every step that is involved in this process, from automation to analysis. The student will learn how the biotech, academic and pharmaceutical industry use these techniques to identify new candidates for potential therapies. The emphasis throughout will be to appreciate how experimental research can be used to identify candidate target genes for drug discovery and small molecules, reflecting the University´s mission

15 credits
The Biotech and Pharmaceutical Industry

This practical module will teach students how to perform small molecule and functional genetic screens, focused on human disease. Emphasis will be placed on how to select the right off-the-shelf assay and if one is not available how to build a new assay specific for their study. Students will take part in experimental screens of small molecules and genetic knock-down screens. Examples of screening methods that will be covered include traditional small molecule screens, modern functional genomics and high throughput phenotypic screens. The emphasis will be to appreciate every step that is involved in this process, from laboratory automation to analysis. Finally, the students will collect and handle data from their screens and visualize the results using modern methods.

15 credits
Modelling Human Disease and Dysfunction

The module will provide students with an understanding of how post-genomic biology impacts on our ability to understand, and treat, chronic diseases of the body. Students will be introduced to major experimental systems and approaches that are pertinent to disease modelling. These include genetically-tractable animal model and in vitro cellular systems (including stem cells). We will explore the principles involved in how these systems are exploited to develop new strategies for intervention, including new therapeutics. Critical evaluation of research papers will allow students to gain experience of analysing experimental work, data presentation and interpretation of results.

15 credits

The content of our courses is reviewed annually to make sure it's up-to-date and relevant. Individual modules are occasionally updated or withdrawn. This is in response to discoveries through our world-leading research; funding changes; professional accreditation requirements; student or employer feedback; outcomes of reviews; and variations in staff or student numbers. In the event of any change we'll consult and inform students in good time and take reasonable steps to minimise disruption. We are no longer offering unrestricted module choice. If your course included unrestricted modules, your department will provide a list of modules from their own and other subject areas that you can choose from.

Teaching

Throughout your degree, you’ll be taught through lectures, practical sessions, lab placements, tutorials and seminars. In small group teaching classes you’ll discuss, debate and present on scientific and ethical topics. The biggest part of the course will be your individual research project, working alongside professional scientists.

Our teaching covers ethics, practical scientific skills and an overview of the current literature. You’ll also develop useful career skills such as presentation, communication and time management.

Assessment

Assessment is by formal examinations, coursework assignments, debates, poster presentations and a dissertation.

Duration

1 year full-time

Entry requirements

A good 2:1 honours degree in a biomedical-related subject.

We also accept medical students who wish to intercalate their studies.

Overall IELTS score of 6.5 with a minimum of 6.0 in each component, or equivalent.

International pathway programmes

If you're an international student and don’t meet our entry requirements, we offer a Pre-Masters in Science and Engineering programme through the University of Sheffield International College. The programme develops your knowledge of your chosen subject, introduces you to vital study skills and provides additional support to reach the English language level for the course, should you need it.

Once you complete your Pre-Masters in Science and Engineering and achieve the required grades, you can enter your chosen postgraduate degree at the University of Sheffield.

We also accept a range of other UK qualifications and other EU/international qualifications.

If you have any questions about entry requirements, please contact the department.

Apply

You can apply for postgraduate study using our Postgraduate Online Application Form. It's a quick and easy process.

Apply now

Contact

bmspgadmissions@sheffield.ac.uk
+44 114 222 2319

Any supervisors and research areas listed are indicative and may change before the start of the course.

Recognition of professional qualifications: from 1 January 2021, in order to have any UK professional qualifications recognised for work in an EU country across a number of regulated and other professions you need to apply to the host country for recognition. Read information from the UK government and the EU Regulated Professions Database.

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