The University of Melbourne
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assignment Level : Introductive
label Biology
chat_bubble_outline Language : English
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timer 42 hours in total

About the content

While the human genome sequence has transformed our understanding of human biology, it isn’t just the sequence of your DNA that matters, but also how you use it! How are some genes activated and others are silenced? How is this controlled? The answer is epigenetics. Epigenetics has been a hot topic for research over the past decade as it has become clear that aberrant epigenetic control contributes to disease (particularly to cancer). Epigenetic alterations are heritable through cell division, and in some instances are able to behave similarly to mutations in terms of their stability. Importantly, unlike genetic mutations, epigenetic modifications are reversible and therefore have the potential to be manipulated therapeutically. It has also become clear in recent years that epigenetic modifications are sensitive to the environment (for example diet), which has sparked a large amount of public debate and research. This course will give an introduction to the fundamentals of epigenetic control. We will examine epigenetic phenomena that are manifestations of epigenetic control in several organisms, with a focus on mammals. We will examine the interplay between epigenetic control and the environment and finally the role of aberrant epigenetic control in disease. All necessary information will be covered in the lectures, and recommended and required readings will be provided. There are no additional required texts for this course. For those interested, additional information can be obtained in the following textbook. Epigenetics. Allis, Jenuwein, Reinberg and Caparros. Cold Spring Harbour Laboratory Press. ISBN-13: 978-0879697242 | Edition: 1

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Syllabus

  • Week 1 - Week 1 - Introduction to Epigenetic Control
    An introduction to and definition of epigenetic control of gene expression, and its importance in normal development. We will learn what chromatin is, and how its composition and packaging can alter gene expression. We’ll also discuss the best-characterised ep...
  • Week 2 - Week 2 - Epigenetic Modifications and Organisation of the Nucleus
    We’ll discuss the molecular mechanisms for regulating gene expression in some detail, from how the DNA is packaged at a local level, right up to how the chromatin is positioned within the nucleus. We’ll learn about the chromatin modifications implicated in gen...
  • Week 3 - Week 3 - Dosage Compensation
    X chromosome inactivation is a really well-characterised epigenetic process that is now used as a model system to study epigenetic processes that are relevant more broadly. This is because it uses many epigenetic mechanisms, at many levels, to achieve really s...
  • Week 4 - Week 4 - Genomic Imprinting and Epigenetic Reprogramming
    We’ll learn about the two important periods during development for the erasure and resetting of the epigenome. There are two well-characterised features that are treated differently during epigenetic reprogramming; imprinted genes and repeats. We’ll learn abou...
  • Week 5 - Week 5 - The Influence of the Environment on Epigenetic Control
    We start to look at some of the big areas of interest in human epigenetics, including environmental influence on the epigenome, reprogramming of somatic cells back to stem cells, cloning, and potential transgenerational epigenetic inheritance. We’ll discuss wh...
  • Week 6 - Week 6 - Mechanisms of Environmental Influence on Epigenetic Control and Transgenerational Epigenetic Inheritance Through the Gametes
    A look at the mechanisms underlying some of the observations we discussed in week 5, through the study of model organisms. We’ll learn about metastable epialleles, which have allowed the study of transgenerational epigenetics in mice, and provided some evidenc...
  • Week 7 - Week 7 - Cancer Epigenetics
    This week we’ll bring together much of what we’ve learned in previous weeks of the course, to understand how the epigenome is affected, and can also affect, cancer development and progression. We’ll then go on to discuss the potential therapeutic benefits that...
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Intructors

Dr. Marnie Blewitt
Head, Molecular Medicine Laboratory
Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research

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Content designer

The University of Melbourne is an internationally recognised research intensive University with a strong tradition of excellence in teaching, research, and community engagement. Established in 1853, it is Australia's second oldest University.
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Coursera is a digital company offering massive open online course founded by computer teachers Andrew Ng and Daphne Koller Stanford University, located in Mountain View, California. 

Coursera works with top universities and organizations to make some of their courses available online, and offers courses in many subjects, including: physics, engineering, humanities, medicine, biology, social sciences, mathematics, business, computer science, digital marketing, data science, and other subjects.

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Best review

This is an awesome course which provides intriguing yet interesting insights in epigenetics and gene regulation as well as expression!!

Published on December 24, 2017
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on the December 24, 2017
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This is an awesome course which provides intriguing yet interesting insights in epigenetics and gene regulation as well as expression!!

on the October 25, 2017
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This course was really inspiring and I really enjoyed the part about histone modification, X chromosome inactivation and the influence of an environment on epigenome.

on the October 16, 2017
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Really good course! The design of the last assignment is more close to what I believe online courses should do. It really challenges yourself to apply the knowledge acquired from lectures and reading material.

on the August 28, 2017
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it was one of the best course I ever take and I think will stay very special to me forever. I learned a lot of fascinating stuff from a great professor with a very interesting way of teaching really it was amazing her passion to teach the topic. I felt her love to the topic with the words and representation the professor done in this course I wish for her the best and to keep passion about the epigenetics as well as continue to add to our knowledge and teach us more and more

on the August 28, 2017
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An amazing course directed wonderfully by Dr. Marnie Blewitt. All the lessons have been new opportunities to discover that epigenetic characteristics in human being genome could answer all questions about ourselves that genetics solely by itself cannot. Thanks to Dr. Blewitt I have a strong tool to complement my biochemical background focused in signal transduction pathways in humans.