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Translational Oncology

Translational Oncology

Course Title Translational Oncology(M.Sc.)
Qualification MSc.
Duration One Year (Full-Time)
Next Intake September 2018

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Excellent mentoring structure, with a great balance between research and practice in a vital knowledge are

Cancer research is a significant strength at Trinity College Dublin and is a major focus at the associated teaching hospitals, including St. James's Hospital. Global cancer incidences are rising rapidly each year and research exploring the underlying causes, mechanisms of tumour progression and response to treatments are vitally important.

This one-year M.Sc. in Translational Oncology, aimed at scientists, clinicians and other healthcare professionals will provide students with an in-depth understanding of the theoretical and practical aspects of the causes and treatment of cancer. The programme explores the cellular, genetic and epigenetic basis of cancer, and also covers the scientific and clinical challenges pertinent to the management of site-specific cancers. All aspects of cancer treatment, from standard therapies to ‘individualized’ molecular targeted therapies and immunotherapy will be explored. The focus of the course is research led teaching in the field of translational oncology. The course is unique, as it is taught on the St. James’s Hospital site at the Trinity Tramslational Medicine Institute by scientific experts and clinical specialists spanning multiple disciplines.

Best New Course of 2014

The MSc in Translational Oncology offered by the School of Medicine at Trinity College Dublin (TCD) was awarded 'Best New Course' 2014 at the Grad Ireland Postgraduate Course of the Year Awards on April 30th, at the Mansion House in Dublin. Judges deemed the programme to have an “excellent mentoring structure, with a great balance between research and practice in a vital knowledge area, good career guidance and deep learning outcomes of local, national and international significance”.

The first of its kind in Ireland, this masters focuses on the area of translational oncology, which describes the translation of scientific discoveries into therapies or “the bench to bedside approach”. The students have the unique opportunity to engage with lecturers from industry, clinical specialities and health economists, so they are aware of what is required to get scientific discoveries to the next level. An in-depth understanding of each module is provided by internationally recognised scientific and clinical experts in their respective fields. An example of this is the core module on site specific cancers. In this module, the pertinent clinical problems associated with the treatment of various cancers are set by leading molecular oncologists and surgeons; while the scientific discoveries and research focused on meeting these clinical challenges are discussed by leading academics in the field. This duality of teaching from the scientific and clinical perspective across all sectors has led to very positive feedback from the graduates, providing them with the scientific and clinical perspectives of the disease which is integral to the translational nature of the program. International reviewers of this course have commented on the timely delivery, exceptional structure and detailed content, and its appeal to science, pre-med and medical graduates. 
The course is broken down into eight core modules covering the fundamentals of cancer biology and six optional modules (from which the students select four modules) that focus on emerging hot topics in research oncology. The choice of optional modules allows the student to tailor the course to their interests be that scientific or clinical.  The evolving nature of the field means that the course is constantly being updated, and student feedback has highlighted the relevance of the lectures, with research findings often communicated within months of their discovery. This ensures that the course material is always fresh, relevant and state of the art. A central part of the course is the three month research placement, where the students undertake an oncology based project from a large selection of universities, hospital and industry sectors.

Speaking of her experience on the MSc in Translational Oncology in 2013 Hannah Moran, an EU student said, ‘I would recommend this course to anyone who has an interest in learning more about the biology of cancer and where cutting edge research is in the field, and I found it an excellent course for preparing me for future work in this area’.

Dr. Anand Singh, from India added ‘The M.Sc. in Translational oncology has helped me develop innovative and effective research skills, with a vision of revolutionising this field of medical scienceand amalgamate this knowledge with clinical medicine.

Why undertake this M.Sc.?

This highly innovative and award winning course will enable students to:

  1. Develop their research skills
  2. Broaden their expertise in oncology
  3. Develop advanced knowledge in specific areas of scientific, translational and clinical oncology.

The course is recognised by many academic and industry partners as a source of high quality postgraduate students. With an employment rate above 92% in its last 4 years, careers span further research (including PhDs) and employment in hospitals, university and medical centres. Additionally a significant number of students have secured positions in pharmaceutical and clinical trail companies both nationally and internationally.

Course Content

The M.Sc. in Translational Oncology consists of eight compulsory taught core modules. The students will also choose four of six optional modules. Each student is also required to undertake a twelve week research project and submit a dissertation based on the outputs from this research project. The twelve week research project will begin in April once all the taught modules have been completed.

Core Modules

The core modules (5 ECTS each) have been designed to provide in-depth training in the translational oncology areas listed below.

Cellular and Molecular Basis of Cancer


Term: Michaelmas 
Co-ordinator: Dr. Graham Pidgeon
Module Duration: 2 weeks 
Assessment:  Written exam

The aim of this module is to give the student a broad introduction to the cellular and molecular basis of cancer. The module explores the molecular and cellular hallmarks of cancer, including cell cycle, apoptosis, DNA repair mechanisms, angiogenesis and metastasis. The basic components of carcinogenesis, including the inflammation-cancer sequence, tumour suppressor genes and oncogenes, environmental agents and viruses causing cancer are also covered. 
All lectures are continuously updated keeping the content relevant to current research as it impacts on patient treatment.

Learning Outcomes

On successful completion of this module students should be able to:

  • Define and describe the hallmarks of cancer and discuss the concept of clonal evolution and genetic diversity in cancer.
  • Describe the nature and role of tumour suppressor genes and oncogenes in the process of cancer.
  • Discuss the mechanisms of cell transformation and cancer initiation in an inflammatory environment and the causes of cancer including mutation, infection and inflammation.
  • Outline the role of certain cellular processes including cell proliferation and avoidance of cell death in cancer progression.
  • Outline the molecular factors regulating metastasis and angiogenesis and novel therapeutic strategies aimed at targeting these hallmarks.
  • Define the influence of the tumour microenvironment in regulating tumour growth and development.
  • Identify, interpret and critically analyse literature pertinent to the area of molecular oncology.

Quotes from students

I really enjoyed all of the lectures as it gave a very good detailed introduction into the cellular and molecular basis of cancer.”


Disease-Specific Cancers: Scientific and Clinical Perspectives

Term: Michaelmas 
Co-ordinator: Dr. Joanne Lysaght
Module Duration: 2 weeks 
Assessment:  Written exam

This module aims to provide a fundamental understanding of both the scientific and clinical aspects of site-specific malignancies. It is becoming increasingly evident that the abnormal profile of cancer cells with respect to dysregulation of cellular processes and genetic abnormalities is specific to each cancer type. Therefore this module covers all the major contributors to both cancer incidence and mortality rates. The scientific lectures will address novel advances in both the molecular and cellular understanding of specific cancer types, while the clinical perspective, which will be given by medical experts in the field, will discuss current treatments and the major clinical challenges being faced by clinicians in treating these patients.

Learning Outcomes

On successful completion of this module, students should be able to:

  • Outline the fundamental molecular and cellular causes of each of the major cancer subtypes.
  • Describe the latest molecular discoveries, helping the understanding of both the causes and progression of the major cancer types.
  • Outline the major clinical advances for treating the various cancer subtypes.
  • Identify the major clinical challenges facing clinicians treating patients with a specific cancer type.
  • Identify potential links between scientific research and its potential to solve clinical oncology challenges.

Quotes from students

“Really liked that there were both clinical and scientific perspectives on the same cancer type. This really gave us a better understanding of each cancer suntype .”

 

Tumour Immunology

Term: Michaelmas 
Co-ordinator: Dr. Joanne Lysaght
Module Duration: 2 weeks 
Assessment: Written Assignment 

The aim of this module is to provide a fundamental understanding of important immunological concepts and how they apply to the field of tumour immunology and immunotherapy. The module will explore how both the innate and adaptive immune system recognises and eliminates cancerous cells and how immune cells can be hijacked by the tumour to support cancer development. This module will also incorporate a clinical aspect, discussing the recent breakthroughs in the field of cancer immunotherapy.

Learning Outcomes

On successful completion of this module, students should be able to:

  • Define and describe the fundamental concepts in tumour immunology.
  • Discuss the basic concepts of the tumour microenvironment and how the immune system can distinguish between normal healthy cells and malignant cells.
  • Describe the pro- and anti-tumourigenic roles of individual innate and adaptive immune cell subsets.
  • Outline the many mechanisms by which the tumour can evade or subvert the immune system in order to support the tumourigenic process.
  • Discuss how the immune system can be used in clinical practice to treat cancer and the many obstacles that need to be overcome for immunotherapy to be a success.
  • Discuss recent developments in the field of tumour immunology.
  • Identify, interpret and critically analyse current immunological literature.

Quotes from students

“We were taught about innovative and cutting-edge technologies. It’s really great to learn something which is only in clinical trials or will be in the future.”

 

Radiation, chemotherapy and molecular targeted therapies

Term: Michaelmas 
Co-ordinator: Prof. Jacintha O’Sullivan
Module Duration: 2 weeks

Assessment: Written exam

This module will cover the importance of radiation, chemotherapy and the introduction of targeted molecular therapies in molecular oncology. This module has a strong multidisciplinary approach where both clinical and scientific lecturers will describe mechanisms on how these clinical treatments work and mechanisms controlling treatment resistance to radiation and chemotherapy. The students will be exposed to the most up to date information on clinical biomarkers in use or in development in the prediction of response to neo-adjuvant chemoradiation treatments. This module will also cover in-depth, the success stories of targeted molecular therapies to date and will discuss where the oncology field currently stands in terms of developing new targeted therapies.

Learning Outcomes

On successful completion of this module students should be able to:

  • Recall the important steps involved in designing a clinical trial.
  • Describe the biological targets and clinical applications of ionizing radiation.
  • Explain the concept of radiation bystander effects.
  • Describe the importance of neo-adjuvant treatment in gastrointestinal malignancies.
  • Describe cellular mechanisms governing treatment resistance to radiation and chemotherapy.
  • Critically analyse the success stories of different targeted molecular therapies gone to market and licensed and those currently in development.

Quotes from students

“I found this module very interesting. It gave good overall knowledge of the subject and gave in depth knowledge of different drugs and how they work.”

 

Cancer epigenetics, gene regulation and stem cells

Term: Michaelmas 
Co-ordinator: Dr. Niamh Lynam Lennon
Module Duration: 2 weeks 
Assessment: Written exam 

This module will provide a solid foundation in the area of chromatin structure and the principles of epigenetics. Lectures will detail the covalent modifications of DNA and histones, the techniques used to determine epigenetic modification, and the principles and experimental application of RNAi technology. The second part of this module will focus on microRNA and its potential therapeutic role in cancer. The last part of this module will focus on cancer stem cell biology. This section of the module will cover the origins of cancer stem cells, their role in cancer pathways and therapeutic interventions aimed at cancer stem cells.

Learning Outcomes

On successful completion of this module students should be able to:

  • Define and describe the processes regulating epigenetics.
  • Detail epigenomic changes in cancer.
  • Describe the usefulness of epigenetic biomarkers for early detection of cancer.
  • Discuss potential epigenetic therapies and problems associated with these therapies.
  • Define the role of microRNA in gene regulation and how they can be targeted therapeutically.
  • Describe the origin of cancer stem cells.
  • Assess the novel approaches targeting cancer stem cells.
  • Discuss the area of epigenetics and gene regulation.
  • Identify, interpret and critically analyse literature pertinent to epigenetics and cancer stem cells.

Quotes from students

“Information delivered by experts in their field of research, cutting edge research concepts was shared. Lecturers were interesting and motivated.”

Molecular pathology and diagnostic imaging

Term: Michaelmas 
Co-ordinator: Dr. Sudipto Das and Dr. Graham Pidgeon
Module Duration: 2 weeks 
Assessment:  Group presentation

The aim of this module is to provide the student with an overview in the area of molecular pathology and diagnostic imaging. Modern cancer research and cancer medicine are dependent on an understanding of pathology, including tumour classification, staging and grading, and how these could be applied to cancer diagnosis, treatment or screening/early detection. This module will introduce basic concepts and practical experience of histopathology and immunohistochemistry. The series of lectures will detail diagnostic cancer screening and biomarkers in molecular pathology. A series of lectures on the imaging platforms relevant to both scientific and medical oncology will also be covered. 

Learning Outcomes

On successful completion of this module students should be able to:

  • Evaluate the potential of molecular diagnostics for cancer research and treatment.
  • Outline the current state of knowledge on cancer pathology.
  • Describe how tumour classification, staging and grading influence treatment intent and patient outcomes.
  • Describe the principles of immunohistochemistry and its application in molecular oncology.
  • Outline and evaluate the current national screening programmes in the Irish healthcare system.
  • Describe how advances in imaging technology has influenced cancer detection.
  • Discuss the area of molecular pathology and diagnostic imaging in group situations.
  • Identify, interpret and critically analyse literature pertinent to molecular pathology.

Quotes from students

Learning about the different screening techniques was very interesting.

 

Clinical statistics and medical ethics

Term:  Hilary 
Co-ordinator: Dr. Joanne Lysaght
Module Duration: 1 week 
Assessment: Exam (Statistics) and Debate (Ethics)

The aim of part I of this module is to provide a fundamental understanding and practical experience with statistics. The statistics part of this module will be run as a two day statistics workshop, covering descriptive statistics, study design and practical tests, including one-way-ANOVA, correlation and regression analysis. This workshop will include practical elements with students having the opportunity to put into practice what they have learned.
Part II of this module focuses on the important ethical and legal issues facing scientists and clinicians at all stages of their careers. Students will receive lectures on the legalities of patient consent and confidentiality and the ethical issues surrounding genetic screening and a patient’s right to available therapies.

Module Content

Clinical Statistics 2 day workshop
Descriptive Statistics I                                                                                                                   
Descriptive Statistics II                                                                                                                 
Study Design                                                                                                                    
Hypothesis testing I                                                                                                                      
Hypothesis testing II                                                                                                                     
Analysis of Variance (ANOVA)                                                                                                  
Correlation                                                                                                                        
Regression                                                                                                                                        
Meta-analysis                                                          
                           
Medical Ethics 2 day workshop
Historical Development of Research Ethics                                                                         
Research Ethics and Clinical Trials                                                                                            
Ethics and Society I                                                                                                                        
Ethics and Society II                                                                                                                       
Confidentiality                                                                                                                                 
Consent                                                                                                                                             
The Ethics of Genetic testing                                                                                                    
Ethics and Enhancement

Quotes from students

“I found the statistics module very well planned. I have done statistics modules before and I found these lectures very well thought-out and clear. The topics were useful for the majority of statistics I would be faced during the course of my career. The practical aspects of the modules were also very useful.”
“I found the medical ethics course very interesting, it made us see the implications of the work that is being done both through research and in the clinic.”

 

Molecular oncology research skills

Term: Hilary 
Co-ordinator: Dr. Stephen Maher and Dr. Margaret Dunne
Module Duration: 3 weeks 
Assessment: SOP generation

The aim of this module is to provide students with the necessary understanding and ability to perform research techniques routinely used in oncology research. The students will learn techniques, such as tissue culture, PBMC isolation, flow cytometry, immunohistochemistry, immunofluorescence, ELISA, RNA extraction techniques for PCR. In addition, students will learn how to write high-quality standard operating procedures (SOPs).

Module Content

  • Effective SOP writing/Calculations
  • Principles of cell culture
  • Practical cell culture I
  • Practical cell culture II
  • Practical cell culture III
  • Practical cell culture IV
  • Principles of flow cytometry and cell sorting
  • Practical flow cytometry I
  • Practical flow cytometry II
  • Principles of IHC
  • Practical IHC I
  • Practical IHC II
  • Practical IHC III
  • Cellular instability and fluorescent imaging
  • Practical instability I
  • Practical instability II
  • Practical instability III
  • ELISA
  • Practical ELISA
  • Practical ELISA
  • Tissue and blood processing for biobanking
  • Practical biobanking I
  • Practical biobanking II (RNA isolation, quantification, cDNA synthesis)
  • Genomics / Proteomics
  • Real-time PCR I
  • Real-time PCR II
  • Real-time PCR III
  • Gene expression analysis

Learning Outcomes

On successful completion of this module students should be able to:

  • Write detailed standard operating procedures for a variety of experimental techniques routinely performed in oncology research labs
  • Interpret and critically analyse experimental data.
  • Describe the principles, limitations and applications of a variety of experimental techniques that will be useful in their research placement.

Quotes from students

I enjoyed working in groups. It was helpful to put into practice each of the techniques. Each of the practicals were delivered by professionals who regularly used that particular technique in their own labs.

 

Research Project with DissertationTerm: Trinity

Co-Ordinator: Dr. Joanne Lysaght
Module Duration: 3 months 
Assessment:  Literature review, Oral Presentation and Research Dissertation.


A large focus of the M.Sc is research led teaching, and in the final term the students undertake a 3 month research placement in an oncology focused laboratory. These projects are chosen at the end of term 1 and students are assigned a literature review by their laboratory supervisor to gain knowledge in the area they will be working.

The research placement will take place between April – June, and will be assessed by means of a dissertation based on the laboratory research project (25% of the overall marks of the M.Sc. degree).

In the last week of their research placement, all students will be required to present the findings of their research project to the course committee, supervisors and their class. Students will be graded on critical thinking, research design, data presentation and statistical analysis. Overall, this module will amount to 34% of the total M.Sc. award.



Optional Modules

Students choose four of the six optional modules (5 ECTS each). The optional modules are designed with the view to covering the interests of both scientists and clinicians.

Obesity, metabolism and physical activity

Term: Hilary 
Co-ordinator: Dr. Graham Pidgeon and Dr. Suzanne Doyle
Module Duration: 2 weeks 
Assessment:  Written assignment

The aim of this module is to provide a comprehensive overview of the impact of obesity, diet and physical activity on the development and progression of cancer. Recent studies have predicted overweight and obesity to overtake smoking as the leading cause of cancer by 2020. This module will introduce the global epidemic of obesity and cover topics including the physiology of weight-loss and gain, adipose tissue biology and appetite regulation. The molecular mechanisms underlying the association between obesity and cancer will also be examined in detail, focusing on site-specific cancers. A series of lectures will also detail the impact of nutrition and obesity status on outcomes in surgical oncology patients. This module will also cover the novel area of physical activity and cancer with respect to prevention and postoperative recovery. 

Learning Outcomes

On the successful completion of this module students should be able to:

  • Describe the mechanisms whereby obesity may contribute to the development of cancer
  • Discuss the principles of body weight and appetite regulation.
  • Explain how adipose tissue is an endocrine organ with distinct immunomodulatory properties.
  • Describe how diet and micronutrients can influence the hallmarks of cancer.
  • Detail how nutrition interventions may improve outcomes in cancer patients.
  • Explain how physical activity may impact on cancer development and outcomes.
  • Discuss the area of obesity, physical activity and cancer in group situation.
  • Interpret and critically analyse literature pertinent to obesity and cancer.

Drug development process from discovery to commercialization

Term: Hilary
Co-ordinator: Prof. Jacintha O’Sullivan
Module Duration: 2 weeks 
Assessment:  Pitch Presentation

This module will cover in-depth, the principles of the drug discovery process and how it depends on molecular pharmacology and medical chemistry to identify new drug targets. The students will also learn the different experimental screening methods used to identify novel drug targets. This module will cover how different model systems, in vitro, in vivo and ex vivo models are used to assess drug response and will describe in detail what is involved in the different stages of a clinical trial. Representatives from Pharma and smaller startup companies will describe drug development from their perspective and discussions will take place on how to get a drug to market. Finally, this module will discuss both the economics of drug discovery and patent and intellectual property issues associated with bringing a new drug to market.

Learning Outcomes

On successful completion of this module students should be able to:

  • Describe the basic principles of drug discovery, identification of novel targets and screening methodologies.
  • Explain the limitations in the current drug screening models.
  • Discuss novel pre-clinical screening models.
  • Describe how a clinical trial would run for a novel drug target (including different stages).
  • Recall the drug discovery and validation process from representatives of pharmaceutical companies.
  • Explain the process by which patents and intellectual property rights are registered.

Therapeutic targeting of cellular instability in childhood and adult cancers

Term: Hilary
Co-ordinator: Prof. Jacintha O’Sullivan
Module Duration: 2 weeks 
Assessment:  Written exam

This module will cover in detail, the importance of how cellular damage drives different forms of cellular instability. The students will be taught about how different forms of damage affect telomere length dysfunction, activation of the bridge breakage fusion cycle and spindle assembly checkpoint functions. Furthermore, the importance of telomerase and mitochondrial instability as therapeutic targets will be discussed in detail. The role of the above instability areas will be explored in field of molecular oncology.

Learning Outcomes

On successful completion of this module students should be able to:

  • Describe the different forms of nuclear and mitochondrial DNA damage and repair mechanisms.
  • Explain how oxidative stress and damage can drive telomere length dysfunction.
  • Describe how bridge breakage fusion events are crucial for driving chromosomal instability.
  • Recall those technologies that can be used to assess chromosomal instability.
  • Describe the importance of mitochondrial damage and dysfunction in inflammation and cancer.
  • Explain the importance of cellular instability in regulating treatment resistance in inflammatory disorders and in different solid malignancies.
  • Describe the significance of cellular instability biomarkers as potential therapeutic targets.

Tumour microenvironment

Term: Hilary
Co-ordinator: Dr. Stephen Maher
Module Duration: 2 weeks 
Assessment:  Written exam

This module will cover the importance of the tumour microenvironment and tumour physiology in regulating oxygen sensing mechanism, angiogenesis and blood vessel stability. The students will learn the importance of the tumour microenvironment in regulating the function and maturation of dendritic cells, myeloid cells and immune cell checkpoints. This module will also cover the importance of the tumour microenvironment in specific cancer types and its role in mediating drug resistance.

Learning Outcomes

On successful completion of this module students should be able to:

  • Describe the “cross talk” between the tumour and its environment.
  • Explain the importance of angiogenesis in regulating blood vessel stability and its potential use as a therapeutic target.
  • Describe the connection between the tumour microenvironment and the main immune cell regulators.
  • Explain the current literature on the role of the tumour microenvironment in different solid malignancies and its importance in regulating disease progression and overall patient outcome.
  • Describe the importance of the tumour and lymph node angiogenesis.

Clinical pharmacology and therapeutic toxicity

Term:  Hilary
Co-ordinator: Dr. Graham Pidgeon
Module Duration: 2 weeks 
Assessment:  Seen written exam

This module will provide both scientists and clinicians with an in-depth knowledge of the major families of chemotherapeutic drugs currently in use to treat a range of solid and haematological malignancies. These lectures will describe the mode of action, clinical uses and drug resistance mechanisms of all the major classes of chemotherapies. This module also aims to provide an insight into the multiple toxicities associated with cancer therapy, both physiologically and psychologically and methods of managing cancer patient’s pain and rehabilitation.

Learning Outcomes

On successful completion of this module students should be able to:

  • Identify the major classes of chemotherapeutic agents in clinical use.
  • Compare and contrast the different families of chemotherapies with respect to mode of action, targets and resistance mechanisms.
  • Describe the physiological impact chemotherapy has on patients.
  • Discuss the potential psychological impact of treatment cyto-toxicities on cancer patients.
  • Describe the appropriate methods of addressing pain for cancer patients and rehabilitation following treatment.

Surgical oncology and health economics

Term: Hilary
Co-ordinator: Dr. Joanne Lysaght and Dr. Melissa Conroy
Module Duration: 2 weeks 
Assessment:  Written exam

This module will cover the main topical areas in Health Economics including health systems, policy and
econometrics. As more expensive tailored and targeted therapies come onto the market, the question of
affordability in the public healthcare system is fast becoming an important issue. This module will also
provide insight into oncology clinical trial design in collaboration with the Clinical Research facility at St.
James’s Hospital. The importance of patient involvement, governance and design will be addressed. Good
Clinical Practice (GCP) training will also be provided as part of this module.

Learning Outcomes

On successful completion of this module students should be able to:

  • Describe the importance of health economics and policy making in the Irish health care system.
  • Describe the role of PPI in research and clinical trial design.
  • Outline the process of clinical trial protocol design and application.
  • Describe the importance of good clinical practise.
  • Identify ongoing cancer clinical trials in Ireland and the associated challenges and successes.



Research Project with Dissertation

The aim of this module is to give students the opportunity to take part in a specifically designed oncology research project, enabling them to put into practice what they have learned during the taught modules, the research skills module and workshops. Each student will be provided with a unique cancer-related research project, which will be closely supervised for the duration of the project by an expert in their respective field. These full time 12 week research projects are a major part of the M.Sc. programme and will provide students with the unique opportunity of being trained by leading experts in the field of oncology research.

Course Aims

On successful completion of this course, each participant will have gained considerable knowledge and understanding into the causes and treatments of cancer; will have learned how to critically review relevant literature, present data and have the ability to undertake independent cancer research, in addition to:

  • Demonstrate an in-depth knowledge of the genetic and epigenetic basis of cancer.
  • Identify the scientific and clinical challenges pertinent to treatment and management of site- specific cancers.
  • Describe all aspects of cancer treatment from standard therapies to ‘individualised’ molecular targeted therapies.
  • Appraise the role of molecular diagnostics, pathology and imaging in cancer screening and treatment.
  • Discuss the role of the tumour microenvironment and the immune system in the development of cancer and in cancer therapeutics.
  • Critically appraise research protocols and manuscripts, statistically evaluate data and write research reports.
  • Evaluate the mechanisms linking obesity, diet and lifestyle choices with certain cancers [upon completion of optional module.
  • Discuss the principles of drug discovery from target identification, to validation and commercialisation.
  • Identify the cellular and genomic instability events leading to cancer progression.
  • Evaluate the surgical management of cancer and the impact of health economics on cancer care.
  • Assess the pharmacology of cancer therapeutics and the toxicities associated with anti-cancer drugs.
  • Prepare scientific essays and reports clearly and accurately.
  • Assess research hypothesis, design experimental studies and conduct quality scientific research in an ethical manner and communicate research findings in an appropriate scholarly manner to specialist and non-specialist audiences. 
  • Interpret experimental findings and evaluate in relation to study hypothesis and existing research.
  • Critically analyse research findings in terms of experimental design and outcomes.
  • Employ professional development and transferable skills such as teamwork, communication and time management skills which will be acquired throughout this course.

Timetable

An induction day will be held for students in September, where the course structure, timetables, assessments and content will be explained in detail to the students.

Term 1

Formal lectures will take place Monday to Thursday (normally 10am-12pm and 2pm-4pm). However it may be necessary to schedule lectures outside these times to accommodate visiting lecturers. Students will be notified of all changes to the timetable. Students will also be expected to attend tutorial sessions outside these normal lecturing hours.

Term 2

Formal lectures will take place Monday to Friday (10am-12pm and 2pm-4pm). However it may be necessary to schedule lectures outside these times to accommodate visiting lecturers. Students will be notified of all changes to the timetable. Students will also be expected to attend tutorial sessions outside the normal lecturing hours.

Research skills modules will be run over 3 weeks at the end of term 2, prior to the research project.

Term 3

Research projects and dissertations will begin in April and continue for 12 weeks. Students are required to be in their designated laboratories at all times (9am – 6pm Monday to Friday).

Detailed timetables will be available to all students via the M.Sc. in Translational Oncology Blackboard page.

Admissions

This M.Sc. in Translational Oncology is open to both scientific and clinical graduates. Scientific, dental or equivalent candidates must have a minimum of a 2.1 honours degree in any biologically-related discipline. Medical graduates must have a MB, BCh, BAO or equivalent from a recognised medical school. All applicants should provide two academic or clinical references confirming their eligibility and suitability for the course, before their application can be considered. Applications for admission to the course will be made through the online system. Late applications will be considered provided places are available.

Non-EU applicants should be aware that processing visa applications can in some cases be a lengthy procedure - apply early where practicable.

For further information contact:

Dr. Joanne Lysaght
Trinity Centre for Health Sciences 
St. James' Hospital 
James's St. 
Dublin 8 
Ireland 
t: +353 1 896 4259
e : msconcol@tcd.ie

Applicants are invited to Apply ONLINE through Trinity College Dublin’s ONLINE application system.

Additional information is available through Trinity College Dublin’s graduate studies website: https://www.tcd.ie/Graduate_Studies/

Course Information Leaflet M.Sc. in Translational Oncology (PDF 392 kB)

Fees

Up-to-date information about course fees can be found at the Academic Registry.

Employability of Graduates

The primary focus of the M.Sc. in Translational Oncology is research led teaching to develop graduates with strong employability across various sectors. The structure of the course reflects this objective, with tailored and specific modules spanning all aspects of translational oncology from specific core modules including ‘molecular pathology and diagnostic imaging’ and ‘chemotherapy, radiotherapy and molecular targeted therapy’ to tailored optional modules on ‘cancer drug development: discovery to commercialisation’.

The course director and co-ordinators have placed a very strong focus on developing career opportunities for the graduates.  A series of tutorials spanning professional development including C.V. preparation, interview skills, personality profiling and communication to a lay audience are provided, in addition to career evenings where the graduates may interact with employers across a variety of sectors. These tutorials are provided by both academics and human resources specialists and recruiters from the private sector. 

Through the structured mentoring structure of the program each student is assisted with career development, by regular meetings with their mentor to discuss the opportunities available for employment.

Where our Alumni go 2012-2017Our graduates from 2012-2017, 79% found employment in the field of translational oncology. 23% of the graduates started PhDs that were initiated through contacts formed within the MSc.

The incidence of cancer in Ireland is increasing rapidly and it is of the utmost importance that our graduates are trained to the highest level. Our graduates are equipped with the knowledge and expertise to participate in novel drug discovery, either in academia or industry. The National Cancer Control Programme (NCCP), established by the Irish Government, aims to improve cancer prevention, detection and treatment, with the ultimate goal of increasing survival rates and quality of life of Irish Cancer patients. This mission aligns closely with the overall objectives of this M.Sc. in Translational Oncology.

Graduate Testimonials

Photo of Dr Anand Simar Singh “Being a clinician linking the clinic to basic sciences has become important in order to better understand and treat cancers. Through the M.Sc. in Translational Oncology I have learnt about the underlying mechanisms of cancers. The course has helped me nurture my thought process, research skills and amalgamate this knowledge with clinical medicine. Contemporary medicine is the era of “Evidence based Personalised Medicine”. Every patient is different and may require tailor-made treatment. The M.Sc. in Translational oncology has helped me develop innovative and effective research skills, with a vision of revolutionising this field of medical science for developing novel, less toxic, more effective and less expensive drugs and treatment modalities.”

- Dr. Anand Simar Singh
Clinical oncologist, current Non-EU student.



Photo of Hannah Moran

“I chose to apply for the M.Sc. in Translational Oncology as I had developed a keen interest in tumour biology during my undergraduate degree and was very interested in pursuing a career in this area. The course was extremely interesting and allowed me to discover which areas were of particular interest to me. It’s my ambition to progress on as a Ph.D student and the course offers excellent support and advice in doing this, as well as for other career options. There was a wide range of research projects available to us so all students had the chance to carry out research in their area of particular interest. I would recommend this course to anyone who has an interest in learning more about the biology of cancer and where cutting edge research is in the field, and I found it an excellent course for preparing me for future work in this area.”

Hannah Moran, Ph.D student, graduated M.Sc. in Translational Oncology, 2013.



Photo of Brian Parkinson

“Very few people can claim to have been unaffected by cancer at some point during their lives. This MSc in Translational Oncology was the prefect course to suit my interests. The course exposed me to world class researchers and clinicians on a daily basis who were highly interactive and provided me with valuable networking opportunities. There is a fantastic support network in place. Each student is assigned one of the course co-ordinators as a mentor and these mentors are available at all times to advise and support students in both an academic and personal capacity. Small class sizes also means that every student gets the attention they need and results in a close-knit community which supports and encourages one another. I believe that the course will equip me with the necessary skills and cutting-edge expertise I need to achieve a career as a research scientist I would highly recommend this course to anybody who is interested in a career as a cancer research scientist.”
Brian Parkinson, Clinical trials Assistant, ICON Clinical,
graduated M.Sc. in Translational Oncology, 2013.



Photo of Aoife Kilgallon

“This Masters in Translational Oncology offers me the prospects to expand my knowledge and understanding of the clinical and scientific aspects of oncology. Lectures were delivered by expert researchers from a number of universities who are actively investigating novel anti-cancer agents. Frontline cancer diagnosis and treatment were conveyed by practicing oncologists including surgeons and radiobiologists. Practical and research skills are developed through an intense three month laboratory placement in an area of specific interest to me. I feel gratified to have been awarded a place on this course and I look forward to being involved in cutting edge translational oncology research in the future.”

Aoife Kilgallon, current M.Sc. in Translational Oncology student.






Photo of Mary Mockler

“I chose to do the part time masters in Translational Oncology. I qualified as a pharmacist in 2007 and practised as a community pharmacist for four years before deciding to return to college. This was the perfect choice for me, the part time option allowed me to continue working throughout the two years. The course content is extremely interesting and continuously being updated to keep abreast of the most recent developments in oncology research worldwide. The layout of the course is designed to give the student a full understanding of both the scientific and clinical aspects of oncology while developing the student’s skills in writing, presenting and research. The lecturers we had ranged from research scientists to doctors and occupational therapists, this helps the student not only understand the challenges that face scientists in oncology research but also that face the patients and the people who care for them.  Personally I found the course coordinators to be extremely supportive, returning to education after so many years was difficult at the start but with their support and guidance I quickly settled in.”

Mary Mockler, Pharmacist/part-time M.Sc. in Translational Oncology student.

Contact Details

For further information on the course please e: msconcol@tcd.ie

Course Director

Prof. Jacintha O’Sullivan
Department of Surgery  
Trinity Centre for Health Sciences 
St. James's Hospital / TCD 
Dublin 8
p: +353 1 896 2149 
f: +353 1 454 6534
e: osullij4@tcd.ie

Course Co-ordinators

Dr Joanne Lysaght 
Department of Surgery  
Trinity Centre for Health Sciences 
St. James's Hospital / TCD 
Dublin 8
p: +353 1 896 4259 
f: +353 1 454 6534
e: jlysaght@tcd.ie

 

Dr Graham Pidgeon
Department of Surgery  
Trinity Centre for Health Sciences 
St. James's Hospital / TCD 
Dublin 8
p: +353 1 896 4097
f: +353 1 454 6534
e: pidgeong@tcd.ie

Course Administrator

Ms Patricia Vila
Old Stone Building 
Trinity Centre for Health Sciences
St James's Hospital
St James's Street
Dublin 8
e: vilap@tcd.ie 
t: +353 1 896 4924