Cancer Biology and DNA damage

BCH 2130H

We will explore three broad topics in the context of cancer biology, one per week:

1. Mutagenesis
2. Synthetic lethality
3. DNA replication stress

Class format:

1. I will send one paper and one review 1 week before each class. I expect everyone to read both.
2. 36 hours before each class, each student should submit one proposed discussion point to me and to the student presenters, via email.
3. Day of class, we’ll meet from 10 am to noon. We’ll start with an introductory presentation by the assigned student(s), followed by presentation of the selected paper, and finishing with plenty of discussion.

The student(s) that present each week will start the class with an introductory presentation. Aim for a 30 minute presentation, but I expect you to encourage interruptions, and to pose questions to the class throughout. Your introduction should provide appropriate context and background for the paper, and should introduce the more specific background and rationale that is typically found in the paper’s intro. Unique aspects of methodology in the paper can also be covered.

We will then go through the paper as a group. The student presenters will lead the discussion, calling on other students to present the figures or parts thereof. Presenters should be sure that they have slides of each of the figures for everyone to refer to! After we go over the figures, the student presenters will lead a discussion to summarize the data, put them into context, and discuss any relevant models. Our discussion will be guided by the discussion points submitted by the class in advance of each presentation.


Drop date: Students are not permitted to drop a 0.25 credit course if more than one class has been completed without approval of the course coordinator.

Course Next Offered

Winter 2024

Course Time and Location

Start Date: March 18 2024
End Date: April 4 2024
Time: 10:00 am

Day(s) of the Week: Monday & Thursday

Course Location:
Building: Donnelly CCBR or MSB
Room: TBA

Enrollment Limit

Yes — 12

Method of Student Evaluation

40%: Introductory presentation and leading discussion, evaluated by prof and peers. The key metrics are:
• the quality and organization of your slides and presentation
• your engagement of your classmates in discussion of your topic
• the content of your presentation
20%: Participation in class. Contributions to discussions of data and conclusions, asking questions, answering questions posed by the presenters and your peers, drawing and discussing inferences.
15%: Discussion points. Before each class, each student will submit one topic, in writing, that they would like the class to discuss. Anything is fair game—background, rationale, context, methods, experimental details, data quality, experimental support for author claims, conflicting views in the literature, etc, etc.
25%: Presentation of figures. Students will be called on to present each figure, including the rationale (why were they doing it), the experiment and controls (what they did), and the inferences that were drawn from the data (what they learned). Students can expect to present a figure several times during the course, and I will make every effort to make sure everyone has an equal opportunity to present figures.


Grant W. Brown

Grant W. Brown

Donnelly Centre, Room 1206
160 College Street

Last Updated 8 January 2024