Online course

Causes of Human Disease: Exploring Cancer and Genetic Disease

Explore how the unravelling of genetic code has led to a deeper understanding of genetic diseases and cancer.

Causes of Human Disease: Exploring Cancer and Genetic Disease

This course is part of the Causes of Human Disease program, which will enable you to learn about the science behind the causes of human disease, and earn 10 credits from the University of Leeds.

Understand the role of genes in cancer and genetic disease

It’s widely known that some diseases run in families. The discovery of the structure of DNA and the unravelling of the genetic code has led to a deeper understanding of such diseases. We now know more about the genetic basis of cancer and how cancer cells are formed and reproduce. On this course you’ll explore the structure of DNA, its processes and learn how genetic disease results from DNA alterations. You’ll look closely at the nature of these changes, causes and risk factors – this is vital in the case of cancer, as prevention has proved to be an effective way of managing this disease.

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Skip to 0 minutes and 12 secondsMy name's Dr. Phil Burns. I am a senior lecturer in the medical school at University of Leeds. I have been an active researcher since my mid-20s, and I've always had an interest in genetics. So the course concentrates very much on the genetic basis of disease. The main one which we'll be covering is cancer, which is probably the commonest type of disease that affects humans, but we'll also be touching on the rarer types of genetic disease that are passed on through families and generations. The key takeaway messages are that there are known causes of human genetic diseases, particularly cancer.

Skip to 1 minute and 0 secondsWe've studied the causes of cancer for many decades now, and we have a very good understanding of what particular factors or exposures that lead to cancer or increase people's risk of cancer. And, at the very least, we'd like people to have an appreciation of those sorts of risks and exposures, and to think about how themselves, or as human societies, we can actually look to prevent or reduce the incidence of cancer through reducing those sorts of exposures.

Skip to 1 minute and 34 secondsSign up now for Causes of Human Disease: Exploring Cancer and Genetic Disease.

What topics will you cover?

  • The chemical structure of DNA, genes and chromosomes.
  • The importance of DNA in understanding the causes of genetic diseases.
  • DNA replication and cell reproduction.
  • The role of genes and proteins in controlling the activities of the cell and the cell cycle.
  • How genes and chromosomes can be permanently altered when mistakes happen during DNA replication.
  • The wide variety of different agents that can cause cancer.
  • The differences between normal cells and cancer cells.
  • Causes of genetic disease.
  • Different types of genetic diseases and how they may arise.

Who is this accredited by?

The CPD Certification Service: This course has been certified by the CPD Certification Service as conforming to continuing professional development principles. By completing the course the learner has achieved 14 hours of CPD time.

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

  • Available now
    This course started 25 February 2019

What will you achieve?

By the end of the course, you'll be able to...

  • Explore how some diseases are caused by problems with our genes.
  • Identify what genes are and the role they can play in human disease.
  • Explain the basis of inherited disease and cancer.
  • Describe what cancer is.
  • Summarise the main risk factors for cancer.

Who is the course for?

The course is suitable for anyone with a general interest in the science behind causes of human disease. No previous knowledge or experience is required. If you are working in nursing, healthcare or social care, or just wish to learn more, this course is designed to support you as a professional. By completing all aspects of the course you will have achieved 14 hours of CPD time.

Who will you learn with?

Phil Burns

I am a senior lecturer in the School of Medicine at the University of Leeds. I have a strong interest in medical education and cancer research.

Who developed the course?

As one of the UK’s largest research-based universities, the University of Leeds is a member of the prestigious Russell Group and a centre of excellence for teaching.

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