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Courses Content

1st Semester

1. Architecture of Biological Systems

The course focuses on understanding the storage and transmission of genetic information and how this influences the formation of essential cytobiological structures, leading to organized cellular functions at both the cellular and organism levels. Key topics include the role of transcription factors, the self-assembly of supramolecular structures, cellular energy production and metabolic networks, membrane structure and function, organelle biogenesis, intracellular signal transduction, apoptosis, proteostasis networks, and intercellular communication. Additionally, the curriculum covers the use of stem cells in cellular therapies and regenerative medicine, highlighting their potential applications in medical treatment and health improvement.

2. Human Anatomy & Physiology

The course aims to understand the basic terminology of human anatomy and physiology, both by system e.g., nervous, circulatory, musculoskeletal as well as in the overall consideration of the organism as a whole with an emphasis on the principles of homeostasis and the interaction of the organism with the environment e.g., nutrition, radiation, infectious agents. The training is enriched with specially designed presentations aiming at a comprehensive approach to the subject of anatomical science as well as the physiology of the human body.

3. Technologies for the Study of Biological Systems

The course aims to present the main -omic technologies, e.g., genomics, proteomics, metabolomics as well as enhance the understanding of their basic operating principles and their main applications in the study of biological systems and various diseases. Modern imaging methods will be presented both at the cellular level as well as at the tissue-organism level, e.g. confocal and electron microscopy, magnetic resonance imaging, PET imaging. Upon completion of the course, students will be able to understand the use of these innovative technologies that they will encounter during their graduate training and future careers.

4. Model Organisms in Biomedical Research

The course aims to present the main model organisms of biomedical research such as yeasts, C. elegans, Drosophila, rodents, etc. For each organism, the advantages/disadvantages of their use, the available “tools” of genetic interventions, the level of resolution that allow to understand the mechanisms of human disease pathogenesis and how they contribute to the potential development of new therapies (pre-clinical models) will be discussed. The associated bioethical issues arising from their use in research and how these are addressed will also be analyzed.

5. Bioinformatics – Principles of Artificial Intelligence

The aim of the course is to provide knowledge in the fields of biostatistics and bioinformatics, both in terms of analysis of results of diagnostic procedures and in terms of data extraction from specialized data banks. The management of research data and genetic information, the PubMed database and general (GenBank, Uniprot, PDB) as well as specific (OMIM, KEGG, PharmGKB, DrugBank) biological databases will be presented (among others). Basic programming languages, data mining, RNA-Seq or microarray data analysis and biostatistical analysis, as well as the basic principles of artificial intelligence will also be analysed. Upon completion of the course, students will have gained a detailed insight into the problems solved by computational and algorithmic approaches in modern biomedical sciences. They will have developed skills in analytical thinking, quantitative approaches and statistical inference and will know how to perform, interpret and apply standard bioinformatics analyses to data -omics.

2nd Semester

1. Aging

The course describes the basic principles of molecular-cellular ageing and the factors that regulate longevity in humans. Methodologies for studying aging in model organisms as well as in higher mammals will be presented. Furthermore, the changes that characterize and promote the phenomenon of ageing at the molecular-cellular level will be analyzed, as well as approaches (genetic or dietary) in cellular and/or in vivo models that have been found to slow down the rate of ageing.

2. Diseases of Aging

The course covers the major diseases of aging with emphasis on cardiovascular, neurodegenerative and cancer. In particular, the molecular mechanisms of endothelial angiogenesis and pathology of cardiovascular diseases and the molecular and genetic basis of neurodegenerative diseases such as Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s diseases will be described. The basic principles of cell cycle regulation in mammals, the genetic basis of cancer, activation of DNA damage response signaling pathways as an anticancer barrier and biomarkers of carcinogenesis will also be presented. Upon completion of the course, students will be able to demonstrate their ability to identify the genetic, molecular, and cellular mechanisms that are dysregulated in endothelial, neural and cancer cells in the various diseases of aging, to understand the processes that lead to the progression of the respective diseases and to understand traditional and novel targeted therapeutic approaches.

3. Molecular - Cellular Immunology - Immunological Diseases

The basic principles and methodologies of studying the immune response and how immune dysfunctions are involved in the pathogenesis of diseases such as allergies, autoimmune and autoinflammatory diseases will be presented. Changes in the immune system in ageing and cancer will also be analyzed. The properties and general consideration of immune responses [natural (innate) and acquired immunity], the principles of clinical immunology and diseases such as auto-inflammatory and autoimmune diseases will be presented. Upon completion of the course, students will be able to understand the fundamental concepts of inflammation, specific immunity, immune tolerance and regulation, and autoimmunity. They will be able to understand the molecular and cellular mechanisms behind the components of the immune system that underlie responses to pathogens and immune dysfunction, as well as their clinical implications. Students will also gain knowledge about the most common and most recent immunotherapeutic strategies used in clinical practice.

4. Precision Medicine-Molecular Therapeutic Approaches

The course provides a basic introduction to the concepts of biological heterogeneity and distributional biology, methods of approach, their importance in physiological and pathological conditions, and their contribution to the design of therapeutic protocols for various human diseases. It aims to make students aware of the universality of the phenomenon of biological heterogeneity at all scales of life (from biomolecules and subcellular structures, to cells, tissues, organs and organisms), the genetic and non-genetic factors that define it, its mechanistic basis and, ultimately, how it all translates into the maintenance or disruption of normal function and health. An additional goal of the course is to understand the contribution of heterogeneity and distributional analysis in improving the accuracy of cellular measurements and better interpretation of data, understanding biological networks and guiding computational models of physiological systems and disease. In the context of therapeutic approaches, courses include lectures on pharmacogenomics, in silico drug design, wearable devices, microbiota and nutrition, induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) and bioethics issues in precision medicine.

5. Methodology of (Translational Research – Career Development (BIO)

The course will teach students about current developments in biological research and their implications for biological thinking and technological applications. The concepts of deontology, ethics and law in biological research will also be developed. On a practical level, students will gain skills in how to search for and write scientific articles, how to prepare oral and poster presentations for scientific conferences, how to write a CV and cover letter, how to select a laboratory, how to keep a proper laboratory notebook and how to manage time, and how to write proposals for research funding. Modern career development strategies in a particularly competitive working environment will also be elaborated.

3rd Semester

1. Cyto-/Histo-pathology

The course addresses common cell characteristics, cell differentiation and tissue organization, cohesion molecules, and the factors that maintain cell shape and function in tissues. It will also describe cell morphofunctional disorders due to exogenous or endogenous damaging factors, pathological intracellular tissue deposits, hemodynamic disorders, atheromatosis, and inflammation with emphasis on factors affecting the inflammatory response, the natural history of acute inflammation, repair, healing, chronicity. Histopathological phenomena and chemical mediators, cell growth disorders, as well as epidemiological-histopathological data on a wide range of malignant neoplasms of various types will also be outlined. Diagnostic and prognostic parameters at the immunohistochemical and molecular level will also be reported and familiarity with basic histopathological concepts will be provided. Finally, familiarization will be achieved (among others) with modern techniques of cancer study, molecular diagnostics, cytogenetics, hybridization techniques and macroscopic organ viewing.

2. Microbiology and Public Health

The aim of the course is to understand the evolving and new dimensions of the applications of Biology in Microbiology for the preservation of Public Health. The correlation of the new dimensions of Microbiology with specific biological entities of microbes based on causal criteria will also be analyzed. The course includes: Public health: definitions, parameters and challenges. Molecular entities of interest for public health: epidemic, infectious and communicable diseases. Microbes of interest: Classification and characteristics. The problem of multi-resistant re-emerging epidemic pathogens: the example of tuberculosis. Travel diseases: emerging fungal pathogens and rare disease entities. The new form of Mycology in Public Health. The degradation of mass and open access resources: the threat of parasites. Uses and abuses of therapeutics: from primary production to the hospital and from the pharmacy to prospective community antimicrobial practice. Geo-epidemiology and Anthropogeography: host and parasite genetic predisposition versus topographical reality and new multi-urban disease ecosystems. The example of viruses. Changing the map: climate change and falling living standards as (dis)regulators of the balance in Public Health in Europe. The dimension of bacterial diseases. Bioterrorism: separating disease from deliberate damage to Public Health. Secular diseases: the misunderstood triangle of quality of life, reproduction, and human rights. Descriptive, predictive and inventory tools.

3. Forensic Sciences

The course refers to the following topics: Principles of Toxicology. Factors that determine the toxicity of a substance. Newer views on toxicity testing. Absorption. Distribution and excretion of toxic substances. Bioavailability of toxic substances. Embryotoxicity. Teratogenesis. Chemical carcinogenesis. Drug toxicology. Applications of molecular biology in the investigation of forensic issues. Understanding the concept of poison and poisoning, toxic action, clinical picture, treatment, and prognosis of poisoning. Special emphasis will be given to forensic toxicology-anthropology.

4. Pharmacology

General principles of Pharmacology: Pharmacokinetics-Pharmacodynamics-Interactions Molecular approach to drug action. The understanding of the general principles of pharmacology and the approach to drug action at the molecular level as well as the understanding of how drugs are developed and tested. Neuropsychopharmacology: Pharmacology of the Central Nervous System, Understanding the mechanism of action of drugs for neurological and mental disorders, Influence of gender and other factors (e.g. pregnancy and lactation). Antibiotics, action and resistance. Classification of medically important fungi and diagnosis of fungal infections. Understanding the mode of action and resistance of antibiotics in the treatment of microbial infections. Molecular identification and structural drug design methodologies will also be discussed.

5. Innovation and Entrepreneurship

The course focuses on identifying findings that can be further exploited leading to the development of innovative products and services. The course will introduce students to the innovation process and familiarize them with the basic principles of technology transfer and intellectual property protection, their legal aspects and exploitation in the industrial sector. They will also introduce students to the principles of entrepreneurship, New Product and Service Development, Business Planning and Business Finance, Start-ups, Knowledge Intensive Businesses/Spin-offs and Venture Capitals (VCs) and Innovation and Entrepreneurship in the Life Sciences in the Global Economy.

4th Semester

Diploma Thesis

Topics are proposed by the lecturers at the invitation of the H.P.S. The selection of graduate students for each topic is made after submission of preference statements. The research thesis is carried out at the Department of Biology, at the Faculty of Medicine or in collaborating laboratories of Research Institutions. Each postgraduate student has the obligation to conduct and write an original thesis.