Human Cellular Physiology Advanced
If you are considering taking HCP: theory (Advanced; PHSI3905), please do the following before semester starts to line up a research project:
- Choose a research project that interests you from the list below.
- The PHSI3905/PHSI3906 coordinator, Stuart Fraser () will need to see your academic record and sign the waiver form that you can obtain from the Faculty of Science office. Email Stuart to make a time.
- Email to arrange a meeting with the lecturer/mentor for your topic of interest. Talk to them about it and agree on a fortnightly time to meet for mentorship.
- Students are expected to chose and confirm their Advanced Project by the end of the first week of semester.
- Once you have confirmed your project with your mentor email Kris Harrison () in the Physiology office with: your full name and SID, project title, and mentor.
- Enjoy your PHSI3905 research
Please note that HCP: research (Advanced; PHSI3906) can only be taken in combination with either PHSI3905 or PHSI3005.
PHSI3906 will involve advanced practical class assessment rather than a research report.
Laboratory/Library projects 2013:
Margot Day and Philip Poronnik
Visualising scientific methodology: from text to video
Most laboratory skills require delicate and complex manipulations that are best learned from watching an expert demonstration. As a result, on-line videos of laboratory methods are becoming an increasingly useful part of the toolbox available to researchers when adopting new techniques. The quality of the demonstration is also dependent on the narrative that supports the visual elements. The best example of the use of the approach is the Journal of Visualized Experiments (www.JoVE.com) established in 2006, a peer reviewed scientific video journal. At a more skill-based level, BenchFly (www.benchfly.com) is an excellent use of the technology. There is, of course, also the ubiquitous and not peer reviewed YouTube.
This advance project gives you a unique opportunity to extend your practical scientific experience and to communicate complex laboratory methods to your peers using a video based platform. This project will be supported by local video making experts. You will research a specific method and then create a narrative / story board to script the video. You will then record the video using your preferred portable digital device of your choice and associated software. You will work in groups and a group mark will be awarded for the final video as well as marks for individual input to the project. All videos will be uploaded onto a YouTube site and the best videos will be further developed and used to enhance online lab manuals for future Physiology practical classes. Submission to Benchfly or even JoVE will also be considered where appropriate.
Upon completion of this project you will have:
1. Planned as a group the design and implementation of the project
2. Researched and analyzed technical information relating to a laboratory method
3. Devised strategies to communicate the complexities of a laboratory method so that a novice can perform the task
4. Designed and created an engaging instructional video
5. Evaluated the benefits and potential pitfalls of on-line versus face-to-face instruction
Mentor:Dr Margot Day, Prof Philip Poronnik
Dr Colin Dunstan
The role of the tissue microenvironment in breast or prostate cancer metastasis to bone(Library Project/PBL Development)
Breast cancer and prostate cancer frequently progress to metastatic disease involving secondary tumours in the bone, with associated morbidity and mortality. The treatment of these patients is challenging with treatment goals changing to palliative rather than curative. In this library based research project you will investigate the key factors in the bone environment that support cancer metastasis, and also how the cancer can modify the bone environment to support its own growth.
Review reference: Casimiro S, Guise TA, Chirgwin J. The critical role of the bone microenvironment in cancer metastases. Mol Cell Endocrinol. 2009 Oct 30;310(1-2):71-81. PMID: 19616059 (PDF copy available through library)
Sunlight - good or bad (Library Project/PBL Development)
Our society is confronted with two serious, yet conflicting health issues. Skin cancer incidence is high and its risk is associated with high sun exposure. Conversely, sunlight provides vitamin D by acting on skin. Australia is facing increased incidence of vitamin D deficiency, which may be in part due to public warnings about sun exposure. Vitamin D deficiency can exacerbate osteoporosis and is also associated with increased risk of many diseases including bowel, prostate and breast cancer. In this project you will conduct library based research into the complex issue of optimum vitamin D intake and acceptable sunlight exposure.
Review reference: Reichrath J. The challenge resulting from positive and negative effects of sunlight: how much solar UV exposure is appropriate to balance between risks of vitamin D deficiency and skin cancer? Prog Biophys Mol Biol. 2006 Sep;92(1):9-16. PMID: 16603232 (PDF copy available through library)
Mentor: Dr Colin Dunstan
Prof Rebecca Mason
Non-classical actions of calcitriol and related vitamin D-like compounds:
Like most steroid hormones, 1,25dihydroxyvitamin D, also known as calcitriol, acts via a classical pathway, binding to the vitamin D receptor, which results in dimerization with the retinoid-X-receptor, followed by binding of the dimer to response elements of target genes and alteration of transcription rates for these genes. There is also evidence for a non-classical (also known as non-genomic or rapid) mechanism of action for calcitriol (and other steroid hormones) that probably involves binding to a membrane receptor followed by stimulation of various signal transduction pathways and ultimately to a change in cell function. It is likely that there is cross-talk between the two pathways. Write an essay to discuss the evidence for the non-genomic pathway for calcitriol (or other steroid hormones) and try to provide a sense of the relative importance of this mechanism of action in one or more of calcitriol (or other hormone)’s known functions.
Mentor: Prof. Rebecca Mason
Dr Michael Morris
Cell therapies for human disease and injury – induced pluripotent stem cells versus embryonic stem cells (Library Project/PBL Development)
Induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) are generally made from fully differentiated cells which have been returned to a supposedly naïve pluripotent state similar to embryonic stem cells (ESCs). Both might be used as cell therapies for a range of currently incurable or poorly treatable diseases and injuries. If you put cells back into a patient, what do you expect them to be capable of to effect repair and promote cure, whilst minimising side effects? What are the advantages/disadvantages of using ESCs and iPSCs as the starting material?
Review reference: http://www.nature.com/ncb/journal/v13/n5/box/ncb0511-497_BX1.html
Mentor: Dr Michael Morris
Dr Bill Phillips
How does exercise prevent the loss of neuromuscular connections in old age?
In old age the muscles weaken and people loose their personal independence. This weakness may be due, in part, to the loss of connections between motor nerve and muscle. Microscopic analysis shows that in old age the nerve terminals of motor neurons start to withdraw from synapses on muscle fibres. This is denervation usually explained by the inability of the aging motor neuron to support its many extended axon branches. However, some groups, including ours have recently found that voluntary wheel running exercise can inhibit the loss of nerve terminals from synapses in the muscles of aging mice. The aim of this project is to research the literature and develop hypotheses that might explain the mechanism through which exercise might prevent nerve terminal loss in old age.
Systematic review on anti-MuSK myasthenia gravis
Autoimmune antibodies against Muscle Specific Kinase (MuSK) were first detected as a possible cause of myasthenia gravis (MG) in 2001. It remained controversial whether these anti-MuSK antibodies were really the cause of MG in the patients that possessed them. The aim of this project is to assemble a systematic review that compiles and critically discusses all the published studies that have tested the effects of anti-MuSK antibodies in experimental animals.
Endogenous Endocannabinoids: how do they work and what role do they play at synapses?
Endocannabinoids such as N-arachidonoylethanolamide (AEA) and 2-arachidonoylglycerol (2-AG) are thought to regulate synapses in the brain in processes such as long-term depression of synaptic transmission and homeostatic adjustment of synapse strength. The aim of this project is to investigate how this system works, how it is regulated by synaptic activity and what it contributes to our mental function (when it isn't subverted by hippies).
Review refernce: Alger 2012. J Physiol 590.10, 2203–2212.
Mentor: Dr Bill Phillips
The Biovideo Project
For many undergraduates "What can I do with my Science degree?" remains a murky question. There is becoming a medical doctor and of course there must be jobs in path labs and hospitals, but what other kinds of career options might there be for someone broadly interested in the biomedical field? Here is your chance to investigate and create a lasting record that might be helpful to your peers and those who follow, and all for credit. The Biovideo project began in 2009 (see url) and is driven by undergraduates for undergraduates. For 2013 we are looking for a team of 2-3 students to brainstorm, find and interview graduates about their career experience and make a short video.
To find out more about the Biovideo project please go to: http://www.physiol.usyd.edu.au/~billp/biovideo/
Mentor: Dr Bill Phillips and Bronwyn McAllan
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com