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Decoding Genetics: The building blocks of life

Why should I take this Trinity Elective?

Each human comprises about 40 trillion cells with 3 billion letters of coded information (DNA) in each cell (the human genome) that is essential for our health and which when defective causes many disorders. This elective will take you from the basic principles of genetics to the latest revolutionary advances in genomics.  New methods of genome sequencing and gene editing are transforming our understanding of biology leading to advances in medicine, drug development, forensic science, bioethics and even our perspective on human evolution. This will have enormous ramifications for society. This elective will inform you on the human genome, the current state of knowledge and likely future developments allowing you to contribute to a wider societal debate.

What will I learn?

  • You will learn about genetics from the discovery of DNA to how it works and will be introduced to key features of the human genome, the code that controls the function of every cell in your body!
  • You will understand how key discoveries have enabled sequencing of genomes, generation of synthetic genes and correction of mistakes in DNA (e.g., using gene editing).
  • International experts will discuss how these discoveries have made it possible to ask new, important scientific questions and to design powerful therapies for diverse diseases from cancers to haemophilia.
  • You will understand the relevance, importance and power of genetics in our societies and will gain a multidisciplinary perspective, taking in science, medicine, law, commercial and ethical considerations.

What will I do?

  • Attend lectures provided by global scientific leaders (assuming no pre-existing knowledge) that take you through the basics of genetics and the many powerful applications for genetics in our societies.
  • Use an on-line learning platform to understand some fundamental ideas in genetics and to be introduced to the key features of your human genome.
  • Attend themed tutorials and participate in group discussion platforms to explore genetics and innovation and how its influence in society. You will participate in debates and referenda on key bioethical issues via discussion platforms. 

How will this be delivered?

  • 10 face-to-face lectures from internationally leading scientists in genetics.
  • 5 online lectures providing fundamental concepts in genetics and outlining key globally renowned discoveries.
  • 5 tutorial / discussion forums focused on key bioethical debates  - supported by online activities including class referenda.
  • Participation in online web-supported discussion platforms and blogs.

How will this be assessed?

  • Online MCQ assessment after 5 online sessions (20%)
  • Online assessment (predominantly MCQ) after completion of elective (40%)
  • Small group work (presentation/snapshot during tutorials on a current genetics topic pertinent to genetics and society in 2020 (40%)

Who can take this Trinity Elective?

  • Any student eligible to take a Trinity Elective can select this Trinity Elective except students in the following programmes: TR060 Biological and Biomedical Sciences and Human Health and Disease.

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