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    MSc
    2022 start September 

    Stem Cell and Regenerative Medicine

    School of Biosciences, Faculty of Science

    Receive hands-on training in the latest human embryonic stem cell techniques from our internationally renowned scientists.
    Biomedical Science: test tube samples

    Course description

    Ready yourself for an exciting career at the forefront of regenerative medicine by learning the latest in human embryonic stem cell techniques.

    Through theoretical and hands-on practical skills training, you’ll explore this fast moving field. You'll cover techniques such as how to grow and culture human pluripotent stem cells (hPSC) and their malignant equivalent, embryonal carcinoma cells. You’ll also learn methods for manipulating hPSCs in culture, monitoring and directing their differentiation.

    Stem cell research can help to uncover some of the mysteries of life and aid the development of novel therapeutic approaches to combat disease. We’ll show you how academic labs, as well as those in the biotechnology and pharmaceutical industries, use cutting-edge techniques to identify candidates for potential therapies.

    Alongside your lab work, you’ll gain an understanding of the current controversies in the field and the limitations and potential applications of tissue engineering for medical applications, drug discovery and food manufacturing.

    The most substantial part of the course is the research project. You’ll spend three months researching an area of stem cell biology or regenerative medicine that matches your future career aspirations from a range of projects. This may include exploring cancer stem cells in brain tumours, RNAi therapeutics or Covid proteins.

    Example research projects include:

    • Characterisation of subpopulations of otic progenitors derived from human Embryonic Stem Cells (hESCs)
    • Control of Skeletal muscle stem cell proliferation
    • Patched 1 function in skeletal muscle stem cells and its implication in muscle wasting
    • Examining the effect of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis mutations on the in vitro differentiation of human pluripotent stem cells

    Our Centre for Stem Cell Biology is internationally recognised as a leading facility for stem cell teaching and research. Our scientists have developed clinical grade, human stem cell lines here at the University of Sheffield which are now distributed by the UK Stem Cell bank for potential use in research and medical therapies. It’s research like this that you’ll be exposed to throughout your degree.

    Intercalation

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

    Modules

    A selection of modules are available each year - some examples are below. There may be changes before you start your course. From May of the year of entry, formal programme regulations will be available in our Programme Regulations Finder.

    Core modules:

    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
    Advanced Scientific Skills

    This module builds on existing, and further develops, generic scientific skills to equip postgraduate taught students with strong competences in presenting and reporting their research work using written and oral formats, in analysing data and the scientific literature, and in acquiring and extending their critical analysis skills. Teaching will be delivered using a blended approach with a combination of lectures, workshops, tutorials and seminars together with independent study and on-line teaching.

    Taught throughout the academic year, the module will be articulated around three units addressing: 

    Unit 1) Scientific presentation skills. In this unit, students will explore how to develop their academic (writing and oral) presentation skills. Some of the topics taught may include how to formulate a research question and hypothesis, how to find information, and how to structure a scientific essay or report. Students will learn how to communicate effectively their research to a scientific, as well as lay, audience. Emphasis will be placed on short oral communications and poster preparation and presentation.  The learning objectives will be acquired through lectures, workshops, tutorials and independent study.

    Unit 2) Critical analysis skills. This unit prepares students to develop their ability to analyse and appraise the scientific value of the published and unpublished literature. Workshops and lectures will introduce students to the process of critical appraisal of scientific work. 

    Unit 3) Statistics and data analysis skills. In this unit, students will learn methods to gather and analyse large datasets. In particular, workshops and lectures will teach students the basics of R coding and statistics for application in biosciences. The unit may also deliver other forms of data analysis relevant to the programme of study. Teaching within this unit will be delivered mainly through on-line material, lectures and workshops. Independent study will be essential to complete the acquisition of skills.

    15 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
    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
    Principles of Regenerative Medicine and Tissue Engineering

    This unit will provide students with an overview of the multidisciplinary concepts underpinning tissue engineering. Through detailed examples of tissue engineering strategies for replacing specific organs and tissues, students will be introduced to the key steps of the tissue engineering process from bench to bedside. The course will present topical research in tissue engineering and enable students to critically assess the current limitations and potential applications of tissue engineering for medical applications, drug discovery and food manufacturing.The unit will provide an overview of the central topics of tissue engineering, including cell sourcing for tissue engineering, biomaterial properties and design, and cell-material interactions. Particular emphasis will be given to the recent cutting-edge examples of applying tissue engineering to restore function of various organ systems.

    15 credits
    Practical Cell Biology

    The practical unit will provide students with experience of practical cell biology. Students will be given the opportunity to establish and optimise ELISA-based assays for fundamental cellular processes, specifically the endocytic pathway. Particular emphasis will be placed on the development, execution and interpretation of experimental protocols as is standard practice in a research laboratory.

    15 credits
    Human Embryonic Stem Culture Techniques

    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.

    15 credits
    Literature Review and Research Proposal

    This unit involves an in-depth survey of the current literature relevant to the student's research project. Students will carry out an exhaustive search of the literature 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. Based on primary research articles, review articles and textbooks, students will work independently under the supervision of the project supervisor to produce a document reporting on the background literature underpinning their research project. The literature review should demonstrate an ability to comprehend and synthesise the experimental evidence presented in the literature, to critically appraise previous studies and identify gaps in the knowledge, and to describe the experimental design of the research project.  To prepare their literature review,  students will meet at regular intervals with their supervisors to discuss their progress.

    15 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

    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.

    Open days

    An open day gives you the best opportunity to hear first-hand from our current students and staff about our courses. You'll find out what makes us special.

    Upcoming open days and campus tours

    Duration

    1 year full-time

    Teaching

    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.

    Dr Louise Robson, Senior Lecturer and Director of Undergraduate Studies, Department of Biomedical Science.

    I work on the disease cystic fibrosis (CF), which is one of the most common inherited diseases in caucasians, with an incidence of 1 in 2,500 live births. In CF a faulty gene means that the protein CFTR does not work properly. My research is looking at how CFTR is regulated normally, and what happens with faulty CFTR. In addition I am in the process of setting up a new diagnostic tool, with the aim of helping our CF clinic in the early diagnosis of children suffering from CF.

    Dr Louise Robson

    Assessment

    Assessment is based on a combination of formal examinations, coursework assignments, debates, poster presentations and a dissertation.

    Your career

    Stem cell and regenerative medicine is at the forefront of future therapies to repair disease and damaged organs. As the academic research base broadens and industry begins to adopt new technologies, the demand for specialists continues to rise. This puts our graduates in a great position to embark on exciting careers in the biotechnology and pharmaceutical industries, in clinical trials, and with regulatory agencies. 

    If you choose to continue your research training, you’ll be ready to pursue PhDs in stem cell biology, regenerative medicine as well as developmental biology and molecular cell biology.

    Entry requirements

    A 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.

    Pathway programme for international students

    If you're an international student who does not meet the entry requirements for this course, you have the opportunity to apply for a pre-masters programme in Science and Engineering at the University of Sheffield International College. This course is designed to develop your English language and academic skills. Upon successful completion, you can progress to degree level study at the University of Sheffield.

    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

    biosciences-pgt@sheffield.ac.uk
    +44 114 222 2341

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

    Our student protection plan

    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.

    Dr Louise Robson, Senior Lecturer and Director of Undergraduate Studies, Department of Biomedical Science.

    I work on the disease cystic fibrosis (CF), which is one of the most common inherited diseases in caucasians, with an incidence of 1 in 2,500 live births. In CF a faulty gene means that the protein CFTR does not work properly. My research is looking at how CFTR is regulated normally, and what happens with faulty CFTR. In addition I am in the process of setting up a new diagnostic tool, with the aim of helping our CF clinic in the early diagnosis of children suffering from CF.

    Dr Louise Robson

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