Fall 2021 - HSCI 776 G100

Seminar in Molecular Basis of Drug Action and Environmental Exposure (3)

Class Number: 5574

Delivery Method: In Person


  • Course Times + Location:

    Sep 8 – Dec 7, 2021: Fri, 9:30 a.m.–12:20 p.m.

  • Instructor:

    Timothy Beischlag
    1 778 782-3071



Topics in molecular biology-based research into pathologies of disease related to drug and environmental exposures will be discussed. Focus on systems pharmacology and the molecular determinants of drug and toxicant action as they relate to gene expression and signal transduction.


This course will provide students with an understanding of the scientific principles underlying the toxic actions of various substances that have a profound impact on human health. In addition, they will be provided with an in depth survey of advanced molecular laboratory techniques used to investigate these phenomena by a careful examination of the current literature. The chemical nature of toxic substances, their mode of action, and the impact that they have on gene regulation will be emphasized. Molecular biological techniques for interrogating genomes at the epigenetic level will be introduced. Finally, students will be introduced to the topics of pharmaco-/toxico-genetics and genomics and bioinformatics and quantitative approaches necessary to analyze these studies. This course is designed to prepare graduates who have an interest in medicine and human health services to pursue careers in these disciplines. In addition, this course will serve as one of the units in the training of the lab-based graduate students in the area of chronic disease and Environmental and Occupational Health in the Faculty of Health Sciences.


The objectives of this course are to expose students to current molecular biological protocols, paradigms and stratagies that are commonly used in modern analytical and research lab settings. Students should be able to demonstrate knowledge of the principles of epigenetics and gene regulation as they relate to the physiology of drug and toxicant action in the body. In addition, students should be able to examine a peer-reviewed article and clearly articulate the hypothesis, the main finding(s) and critically evaluate the rigour and validity of the study. To support their critiques, students should be able to cite relevant findings in the literature. By the end of the course the students should be comfortable describing multiple approaches to molecular based methodologies for interrogation of the genome as it relates to human physiological adaptation to environmental stress and cues. In particular, students should be able to demonstrate firm understanding of toxico-genomics and the quantitative approaches used to interpret broad-based genomic studies regarding topical pharmaco-toxicological issues in human health.



Overview of assignments, exams, other activities: Two original research paper presentations [seminar] (25% each), criticque due (10%), participation (10%), and a final group project (30% final grade).

This is a split undergraduate senior seminar and graduate level course. Expectations are higher for graduate students. Thus, the final projects for grad students are assigned for Weeks 10 and 11 and graduate students are expected to help produce that unit for the course in collaboration with the Instructor.


HSCI 323 or instructor waiver




Graduate Studies Notes:

Important dates and deadlines for graduate students are found here: http://www.sfu.ca/dean-gradstudies/current/important_dates/guidelines.html. The deadline to drop a course with a 100% refund is the end of week 2. The deadline to drop with no notation on your transcript is the end of week 3.

Registrar Notes:


SFU’s Academic Integrity web site http://www.sfu.ca/students/academicintegrity.html is filled with information on what is meant by academic dishonesty, where you can find resources to help with your studies and the consequences of cheating.  Check out the site for more information and videos that help explain the issues in plain English.

Each student is responsible for his or her conduct as it affects the University community.  Academic dishonesty, in whatever form, is ultimately destructive of the values of the University. Furthermore, it is unfair and discouraging to the majority of students who pursue their studies honestly. Scholarly integrity is required of all members of the University. http://www.sfu.ca/policies/gazette/student/s10-01.html


Teaching at SFU in fall 2021 will involve primarily in-person instruction, with approximately 70 to 80 per cent of classes in person/on campus, with safety plans in place.  Whether your course will be in-person or through remote methods will be clearly identified in the schedule of classes.  You will also know at enrollment whether remote course components will be “live” (synchronous) or at your own pace (asynchronous).

Enrolling in a course acknowledges that you are able to attend in whatever format is required.  You should not enroll in a course that is in-person if you are not able to return to campus, and should be aware that remote study may entail different modes of learning, interaction with your instructor, and ways of getting feedback on your work than may be the case for in-person classes.

Students with hidden or visible disabilities who may need class or exam accommodations, including in the context of remote learning, are advised to register with the SFU Centre for Accessible Learning (caladmin@sfu.ca or 778-782-3112) as early as possible in order to prepare for the fall 2021 term.