Online course in Health & Psychology

Cancer in the 21st Century: The Genomic Revolution

Discover how genetics has revolutionised the detection and treatment of cancer, and how these may develop in the future.

Cancer in the 21st Century: The Genomic Revolution

  • Duration 6 weeks
  • Weekly study 5 hours
  • Certificate Available

Why join the course?

Cancer Research UK estimates that 1 in 3 people in the UK will be diagnosed with cancer during their lifetime. It is a disease which impacts on most people’s lives at some stage. Thus understanding cancer and the development of new treatments is of intrinsic interest to us all.

As such, this course will appeal to many, although it may be particularly attractive to individuals with a prior interest in biology, for example current undergraduate students, nurses or medics who want to further their knowledge in this area.

Over the 6 weeks of this course we will examine three key questions: ‘Where have we come from?’ ‘Where are we now?’ and ‘Where are we going?’ with respect to cancer diagnosis and treatment.

The course will offer insight into patient experiences as well as enabling discussions on key issues. Guest lecturers include active researchers and those involved in direct patient care. Learners will also get the chance to undertake their own internet based investigation into one of the most exciting areas of cancer research.

You can use the hashtag #FLCancer21 to join and contribute to Twitter conversations about this course. Follow our twitter account @UofGCancerMOOC



You can read more about this course on the FutureLearn blog.

Image Credit - Guy Tear, Wellcome Images

Skip to 0 minutes and 9 secondsMany significant advances have been made in the field of cancer over the years, and it's hard to identify which is the most significant. Perhaps the most exciting in recent years is our ability to sequence entire genomes from individual cancer cells. I think this is going to lead to an entirely new perspective on cancer. One of the most important recent discoveries in the field of cancer research was the discovery of the drug Imatinib. This is a drug for the treatment of chronic myeloid leukaemia. What it's done is translated molecular biology findings in the laboratory into a treatment which makes massive differences for patients with this particular disease.

Skip to 0 minutes and 48 secondsFrom the medical genetics point of view, I think an enormous advance has been the identification of many locations in the genome where inherited alterations can increase an individual's cancer risk. For people and families with an inherited cancer predisposition, we'll be able to determine their risk of developing cancer with more accuracy. I believe leukemic cancer research is at the forefront of cancer research. It's through leukaemia cancer research that we've developed the small molecule inhibitors and antibody mediated therapy. These has transcended across all cancers, and have resulted in improved patient outcome across all cancer sub-types. The main advance in radiation oncology in the past 5, 10 years is the technology improvement, in terms of hardware and software.

Skip to 1 minute and 41 secondsThis permits radiotherapy to be given very selectively to the tumour. This is the core of the advance in radiotherapy. We've gone from a time where it took us fifteen years and two billion pounds to sequence one individual human genome. Now we can do that in a manner of days, and for about 5,000 pounds. and what that means is that we can take a sample of their cancer, we can sequence it, and we start to identify what the right treatment for that particular individual patient, and start to give them their treatment, so that the right treatment is given to the right patient at the right time.

Skip to 2 minutes and 22 secondsCancer will touch almost all of our lives at some point, and the potential of new treatments holds an excitement that is hard to ignore. But in order to understand where we're going, we need to look at where we've come from, and where we are now. We'll see how unlocking the science has enabled us to get to the stage where we can truly say that we are on the edge of a genomic revolution.

When would you like to start?

Most FutureLearn courses run multiple times. Every run of a course has a set start date but you can join it and work through it after it starts. Find out more

Who is the course for?

A background in biology may be helpful but isn’t absolutely necessary as the course will build your knowledge week-on-week. Students who are interested in applying for the Cancer Sciences or Medical Genetics MSc programmes at the University of Glasgow are also encouraged to enrol on this course. Those who have successfully completed the ‘Inside cancer’ course with the University of Bath will find that this course builds upon their previous knowledge.

Who will you learn with?

Cancer in the 21st Century Course Leads : Leah and Sarah

Cancer in the 21st Century Course Leads : Leah and Sarah

We are the course leads for Cancer in the 21st Century: The Genomic Revolution

Who developed the course?

Founded in 1451, the University of Glasgow is the fourth oldest university in the English-speaking world. It is a member of the prestigious Russell Group of leading UK research universities.

Buy a personalised, digital and printed certificate

You can buy a Statement of Participation for this course — a personalised certificate in both digital and printed formats, to celebrate taking part.

$49.00