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Academic year 2019/2020

Course ID
Teaching staff
Prof. Giovanna Gambarotta
Prof. Isabelle Perroteau
Degree course
Cellular and Molecular Biology
1st year
Teaching period
First semester
Course disciplinary sector (SSD)
BIO/06 - anatomia comparata e citologia
Formal authority
Type of examination
Cytology, cellular biology with elements of signal transduction, molecular biology and recombinant DNA technology Bachelor degree level.
Propedeutic for
Cellular Neurobiology, Medical and cancer genetics, Systems biology

Sommario del corso


Course objectives

This teaching contributes to the learning objectives included into the Fundamental area of the Master in Cellular and Molecular Biology - Biologia Cellulare e Molecolare, providing knowledge and applicative abilities. Through the critical reading of cell biology scientific articles, students learn to address issues related to the biology of the cell, and in particular, cell communication and signal transduction. Cell-cell communication and interaction, with particular attention to the mechanisms and molecules involved in the regulation of attraction and repulsion, neuronal migration and axon pathfinding will also be addressed. Potential applications in the biomedical field will be also discussed. The main objective is to develop the ability to critically analyze and interpret the results of the recent scientific literature. For each item, students learn how to highlight the specific scientific question, to interpret data, to discuss the experimental approach. Through a series of activities, students learn the experimental design to answer questions related to a scientific problem using gene expression constructs.


Results of learning outcomes

Advanced cell biology

  • Extending and applying knowledge of cell biology to new situations, interpreting and analysing information
  • Selecting information from a variety of sources and presenting detailed information appropriately in a variety of forms
  • Making reasoned predictions and generalisations from a range of evidence/information
  • Drawing valid conclusions and giving explanations supported by evidence/justification
  • Drawing on knowledge and understanding of cell biology to make accurate statements, describe complex information, provide detailed explanations and integrate knowledge
  • Critically evaluating experimental procedures by identifying sources of error, suggesting and implementing improvements
  • Communicating cell biology findings/information fully and effectively
  • Analysing and evaluating scientific publications and media reports


  • Planning and designing biotechnological experiments/investigations, using reference materials, to test a hypothesis or to illustrate particular effects
  • Processing and analysing biological information (using calculations, significant figures and units, where appropriate)

Course delivery

  • Lectures: Emphasis is given to the specific scientific question addressed, as compared to the status of art.  Experimental approaches and results are deeply analysed. 
  • Biotechnology project tutorial: Eight sessions in a computer room, students will perform the experimental design for the construction of several plasmids and viral constructs aimed to express a recombinant protein, both wild-type, and fused with GFP or a FLAG.
  • Additional exercises and tests will be provided online on the Moodle platform.

Learning assessment methods

Midterm Multidisciplinary Test (MMT, optional) - This test will be in common with the courses of  Oncology and Molecular  Pathology, Cell Physiology, and Virology. It will be a Moodle-based test of 32 questions (8 for each course): 26 with a variety of formats (multiple choice, true/false, filling in checklists....) and four open questions. The optional midterm Multidisciplinary test will give rise to additional points to the final grade of final exam of each of the four courses, provided this will be passed in the first session (January-February 2020). Correspondence between Midterm Multidisciplinary Test vote and additional points for final exams is as follows: 22-23/32, 0.5 points; 24-25/32, 1 points; 26-27/32, 1.5 points; 28-30/32, 2 points. 

Multidisciplinary Research Essay (MRE, optional) - This at-home assignment will be in common with the courses of Oncology and Molecular Pathology, Cell Physiology, and Virology, and will refer to methodologies and technical approaches relevant to at least three of the four courses. The essay (up to 2000 characters + figures, tables and references) will be prepared by groups of normally three students and presented orally by the end of the semester. The optional Multidisciplinary Research Essay will give rise to additional points to the final grade of final exam of each of the three to four courses, provided this will be passed in the first exam session (January-February 2020). Correspondence between vote to the Multidisciplinary Research Essay and additional points for final exams is as follows: 22-23, 0.5 points; 24-25, 1 points; 26-27, 1.5 points; 28-30, 2 points. 

Final exam - This exam will be a Moodle-based test of 20-25 questions with different formats: open question, multiple choice quizzes, true/false, short answers, open-ended questions; interpretation of experimental data and resolution of exercises similar to those carried out in the theoretical and practical cell biotechnology lessons (it is therefore  strongly suggested to attend the laboratory lessons). The maximum grade will be 32/30. Grading 31 and 32 will give rise to " 30 cum laude". Any additional points obtained by MMT and MRE will be added to the final exam of the first exam session (January-February 2016). 

Summer 2020: Because of the Coronavirus emergency, exams will be carried out remotely on-line, on Moodle, by accessing a link to WebEx that will be provided to the enrolled students the day before the exam. The written exam will be followed by a short oral interview.

Academic conduct: The penalty for course-related dishonesty (ei. cheating on exams, plagiarism, etc) will be failure for the entire course.


Support activities

Useful websites:

Students with disorders that may affect learning (eg students color blind, visually impaired, hearing impaired, dyslexic or with physical disabilities) are encouraged to contact the teachers to adapt learning materials, activities and assessments.



The main objective of the course is to convey to the students the ability to

  1. analyze and interpret scientific papers concerning cell biology topics;
  2. design constructs for the expression of recombinant proteins, taking into account all the necessary steps.


  • Advanced cell biology experimental approaches
  • Cell transduction pathways
  • Cell communication
  • Stem cells and differentiation
  • Cell migration and adhesion
  • Axon pathfinding and analysis methods

Suggested readings and bibliography


  • Molecular Cell Biology (7 th edition) by Lodish et al. (2013) or Molecolar Biology of the Cell (6th edition) by Alberts et al. (2015).
  • Supplemental journal articles and reviews will be assigned for each topic (see reading list on Moodle platform). 
  • Material covered in lectures (pdf of lectures and integrative material) is also published on Moodle platform. 



Class schedule

Notes: See the timetable at the Class Schedule Page

Last update: 19/06/2020 16:41
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