This course provides an introduction to the molecular genetic basis of human cancers. Recent breakthroughs in molecular genetics have led to landmark advances in our understanding of the molecular causation and treatment of the multiple types of human Cancers. Cancer will be presented as a consequence of interactions between a cell's genetic blueprint and the external environment that alters that cell's selective advantage over neighbouring cells.

We will investigate key cellular pathways that are frequently targeted and hijacked in tumour cells leading to neoplasia, discuss the mechanisms by which environmental factors affect tumour development and discuss novel cancer models and molecular therapies. (Prerequisite: Biology 281b (Genetics) and Biology 381a (Biological Macromolecules) or permission of the Instructor).

This course is targeted to Biochemistry students and undergraduate students within the Bachelor of Medical Sciences Program who are considering graduate work, medical school, or other health professional programs.

Enrollment in this course is limited to 60 students.

Evaluation: In class quiz: 10% ...... Midterm Test: 30% ....... Final Exam: 60%

PDFs used in the course are here (password necessary: access restricted to course registrants)

Lectures for this course are supported by lecture notes and the required readings available at this website.

No textbook will be required for this course. Instead, given the rapid rate at which the field of Cancer Genetics is developing, the 4450a Lectures are supported by up-to-date review articles and original papers published in leading cancer-related journals by experts in their field (Nature Genetics, Cell, Science, Nature Reviews Cancer, etc). These articles will be available to the students (for personal use only) as pdf files accessible from a restricted-access webpage linked to the Biochem 4450 homepage.

One or two papers are provided to support each lecture. These required readings form the basis of each lecture and are intended to provide the student with the most recent information relevant to this exciting area of research.

UWO’s Policy regarding Plagiarism and Other Scholastic Offenses:

“Scholastic offences are taken seriously and students are directed to read the appropriate policy, specifically, the definition of what constitutes a Scholastic Offense, at the following website:”

Students must familiarize themselves with the Policy on Accommodation for Medical Illness:

Statement from the Dean’s Office, Faculty of Science

If you are unable to meet a course requirement due to illness or other serious circumstances, you must provide valid medical or other supporting documentation to the Dean's office as soon as possible and contact your instructor immediately.  It is the student's responsibility to make alternative arrangements with their instructor once the accommodation has been approved and the instructor has been informed. In the event of a missed final exam, a "Recommendation of Special Examination" form must be obtained from the Dean's Office immediately. For further information please see:

A student requiring academic accommodation due to illness, should use the Student Medical Certificate when visiting an off-campus medical facility or request a Record's Release Form (located in the Dean's Office) for visits to Student Health Services. The form can be found at:

Biochemistry 4450A: The Molecular Genetics of Human Cancer


Course information for 4450A Students:

Course Coordinator: Dr. David Rodenhiser, PhD.

Associate Professor (Paediatrics, Biochemistry and Oncology)

Principal Investigator in the London Regional Cancer Program

Scientist at the Children’s Health Research Institute

email:        phone: 519.685.8600 X52198

Lecturer: Dr. Fred Dick, PhD.

Assistant Professor (Biochemistry, Paediatrics and Oncology)

Principal Investigator in the London Regional Cancer Program

Scientist at the Children’s Health Research Institute

Lecturer: Dr. Caroline Schild-Poulter, PhD.

Assistant Professor (Biochemistry)

Cell Biology Research Group, Robarts Research Institute

Click here to see the

2009 Tentative Lecture Schedule:


Lectures: 10:30-11:30 on Tuesdays and Thursdays

Biological and Geological Sciences Building

Room 1056

biochemistry 4450a

The Molecular Genetics of Human Cancer (formerly 450A)

General Course Information