Fall 2020 - HSCI 475 D100

Seminar in Molecular Mechanisms of Epigenetics (3)

Class Number: 6324

Delivery Method: Distance Education


  • Course Times + Location:

    Fr 9:30 AM – 12:20 PM

  • Prerequisites:

    MBB 331, or permission of the instructor.



Discussion of novel and advanced topics in chemical covalent modifications of chromatin that influence gene regulation.


This course is designed to provide students with an in depth understanding of current advances in epigenetics and an appreciation of the experimental efforts and methodologies used to address epigenetic alterations that affect gene regulation.  Following a short summary of concepts and general principles, we will discuss current understanding of how covalent modifications to the DNA and chromatin are placed, erased and readout by biological systems.  Readings will be selected to emphasize biological systems that are sensitive to epigenetic modifications that affect health and behavior.
Course Topics:  Gene regulation, Chromatin modifications, MicroRNAs, Chromatin remodeling, DNA methylation Enzymes that place and erase epigenetic marks, Cellular proteins that read and interpret epigenetic marks, Genes and environment interraction – DNA/chromatin structure, Epigenetics and heredity, Mammalian models and New technologies. 
Course Format:  The course will consist of student presentations of peer-reviewed research papers and written reports with critical analysis of the methods, data and interpretations.


The main objectives of this course are to introduce students to current environmental human health concerns and the basic research being performed to address human health problems.  At the end of the course, students should be able to evaluate peer-reviewed publications for content and rigor, while being able to describe basic techniques used to study epigenetics using examples from the primary literature.  In addition, students should demonstrate an understanding of the conceptual design of the basic molecular and biochemical approaches used to investigate human heath.  Students will learn how to critically review relevant literature and communicate these points by presenting their findings in an organized and scholarly fashion to their peers.

Core competencies for the Bsc program that are addressed in this course include:  Systems and Critical Thinking - Primary


  • Presentation 40%
  • Quizzes 10%
  • Assignment #1 20%
  • Assignment #2 20%
  • Participation 10%


Students are required to complete the assigned reading before each class as lectures will be presented based on the assumption that they have read these required materials. This course is taught as a combination of lectures and class discussions. Thus, student participation is a key element of the course. The students are required to constructively contribute to the class discussion. An important way to demonstrate this engagement with the course material is for the student to keep up-to-date with the course readings.



Peer-reviewed articles from the current literature will be assigned and distributed two weeks prior to each class.


Peer-reviewed articles from the current literature will be assigned and distributed two weeks prior to each class.  Students are expected to complete the assigned reading before each class as lectures will be presented based on the assumption that they have read these required materials.

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 2020 will be conducted primarily through remote methods. There will be in-person course components in a few exceptional cases where this is fundamental to the educational goals of the course. Such course components will be clearly identified at registration, as will course components that will be “live” (synchronous) vs. at your own pace (asynchronous). Enrollment acknowledges 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. To ensure you can access all course materials, we recommend you have access to a computer with a microphone and camera, and the internet. In some cases your instructor may use Zoom or other means requiring a camera and microphone to invigilate exams. If proctoring software will be used, this will be confirmed in the first week of class.

Students with hidden or visible disabilities who believe they may need class or exam accommodations, including in the current context of remote learning, are encouraged to register with the SFU Centre for Accessible Learning (caladmin@sfu.ca or 778-782-3112).