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MEDSCI312

ENDOCRINOLOGY OF GROWTH AND METABOLIM

Course Breakdown

 

Mid-Semester Test: 15%
Laboratory Component: 20%
Exam: 65%

Course Information

 

Official UoA Website: link.
 

Basic Information

This paper focuses a lot on hormones and cellular processes/pathways in the human body which connects well with medicine. 

The prerequisites for this course is that students must have taken and passed 2 of the 3 papers: MEDSCI 201, MEDSCI 205 and BIOSCI 203. It is considered an advantage for students who have taken the biochemistry papers in 1st and 2nd year (ie: BIOSCI 106 & BIOSCI 203) even though you can enrol in 312 by just doing MEDSCI 201 and 205. Having said that, students who have none or little prior knowledge of biochemistry can do just fine.

​The enjoyability of this course was quite high personally but the time pressure and demands of the lab reports really dropped the quality of this course in general. Lectures were video recorded in 2016.

 

Lecture Content

Overall, the content is reasonable and quite straight-forward. There is just a lot of information to memorise and recall in the exam/test. All and if not most of lot of the information can be found on the slides, but some background/additional reading may be required for the exam to do well in one of the lab related essays in the final exam. You are probably better off remembering the lecture slides than using a textbook especially for the MST. It is important to note that the MST was all MCQs in our year (55 questions) and in terms of difficulty they were like that of MEDSCI 201 tests. The exam however requires a different approach rather than rote memorisation which means constructing concise content integrated practice essays from lecture notes was necessary to do well.  

You can be well prepared for it if you do the past papers and listen to what areas the lecturers tell you to focus on. Since this is Endocrinology, topics revolve around the physiology of hormones and the endocrine organs. These include hormonal regulation and action, its role in prenatal/postnatal development and growth, obesity, and metabolism. You also cover lipid synthesis/degradation, bone growth, the development and function of certain endocrine organs (adrenal glands, pancreas, liver, pituitary gland) and how they regulate the hormones they release. The lecture content was split into five overlapping sections:

Endocrinology, Hormones, and Obesity 
Kathy’s lectures were quite straightforward and her lecturing style was as well, with most of what she says being in the slides or the recording itself. She lectured us in 2016 about obesity, mouse models and simple hormonal signalling in the body. Usually an essay question comes from her section every year so it will probably be good to prepare for her essay.

Prenatal/Postnatal growth
The development of the fetus before birth and after birth were explored in this lecture topic. There was a lot of content but also a lot of concepts that we weren’t too sure if it was relevant to a science degree because of the amount of clinical material presented. Otherwise, it was interesting to learn about.
 
Cell signalling     
This section has been feared by students every year just because of the shear amount of content he puts into each lecture. The biochemistry goes quite in-depth here and several pathways should be learnt in depth for the test in order to do well. Perhaps its best to print a copy of the slides before the lecture so you can easily follow along with him and annotate the notes. Try to focus on diabetes 1/2 for the exam essay/SAQs or anything that he mentions in the lectures that he likes because it is likely that it will tested as an essay. Be very selective when studying his section for the exam, what you think is likely to not come up will probably not. 

Organogenesis  
This section in 2016 was revamped and made a lot more straightforward. You will get taught about the development of the mammalian embryo from different species. In addition, the development of the digestive system and pancreas are also covered from beginning to end.

Clinical Section 
A bunch of clinical lectures which were quite enjoyable and were presented by different guest lecturers. In 2016 we learnt about adrenal, sexual, bone regulation and thyroid physiology and disease processes. These lectures were also taught in MBChB part II. An SAQ or essay usually comes from one of the three lectures.
 

Labs

Lab topics all have a common theme – fat. These include fat synthesis/breakdown, the role of a protein in obesity, how we can measure body fat percentage and the discovery of certain types of fat cells. The main thing that should be pointed out is the first lab you encounter requires you to dissect mice. It does sound similar to the 142 rat lab dissection but in 312, you are required to dissect out the organs and weigh them separately. However, probably 70% of your class will be at UMAT which means that it will be a hassle to go through the lab report with limited understanding, if you are going for postgrad medicine. The other labs involve working with cell culture/assays and measuring body fat using instruments which was done in pairs and was enjoyable. One of your reports comes in the form of an 4 page essay describing the discovery and function of certain types of fat cells (white, brown and beige) after watching a 1 hour video that was quite boring. ​

 

Lab Reports

Lab write-ups were very tedious as these topics have a lot of articles to choose and reference from. The results require a lot of time and 2 weeks is not enough if you take other MEDSCI papers. Don’t be surprised if you end up cramming for these reports. However, one quick way to get enough information in the shortest amount of time would probably be just to attend the conferences which are held online by Anuj. Take down all the key information that is required and then write accordingly. They do provide you with a list of journal articles to start from but don’t limit yourself to those. Also, do your best to adhere to the 4 page limit (excluding tables, diagrams and graphs) as going overboard will prevent you from getting full marks regardless of how awesome your report is. 

 

MST and Exam

The MST is fully MCQs and covers only the first half of the lectures. It will also include information from the first 2 labs which really tripped us up in 2016. As this is a physiology course, there’s no way to access any past MCQs so do your best, learn the content well and hope for the best! I can hint to you that there will be very tricky questions that in each answer change a certain keyword or biochemical molecule for Peters section, so learn the details well. The exam consists of writing 5 SAQs and 4 Essays in 3 hours. You do get a choice of SAQs and Essay Qs to answer and you can do well if you practice with past exams.