The course is offered during the first period of the spring term, and the language of instruction is English.
Why study toxicology?
Toxicology is the study of the adverse effects of chemicals on living systems, whether they are human, animal, plant or microbe. Adverse effect can range from a life threatening injury to something that might be considered a minor annoyance. Toxicology is an inter-disciplinary science that integrates the principles and methods of many fields: chemistry, physics, biology, pharmacology, cellular and molecular biology, physiology and medicine. The need for toxicologist is growing as a result of new chemical testing and drug safety requirements and legislation. In the present course we are concentrating on toxicology in humans and on using in vitro methods for toxicological testing.
Who should take the course?
There are many subspecialty areas in toxicology research: chemical carcinogenesis, reproductive and developmental toxicology, neurotoxicology, immunotoxicology, inhalation toxicology, risk assessment, and many others. Job opportunities are available in industry, academia and government. This course is optional for a Master's degree in Science with a major in Biology or in Molecular Biology. To obtain maximal benefit from the course, you are recommended to take it towards the end of your master studies when you have basic knowledge in chemistry, cellular and molecular biology, and human physiology.
Aims of the course
The principal aims of the course are:
- to make the students familiar with essential toxicological concepts based on toxicodynamics and toxicokinetics,
- to provide a theoretical background as well as practical training in toxicological methods,
- to introduce the students to cell culture methods to study toxicity,
- to present toxicology in wider perspective, including risk assessment of chemicals and social implications,
- to train the students in scientific writing, oral presentation techniques, literature search using databases and computer skills.
To some extent, the contents of the course may change each time it is given, but the following will always belong to the curriculum.
- General toxicology including the concept of dose response.
- Uptake, distribution, metabolism and excretion of toxicants (toxicokinetics).
- Mechanism of action of a toxicant on the molecular level (toxicodynamics) resulting in the toxic effect on the cell and entire organism.
- Cell cultures as test systems for toxicity testing.
Teaching includes lectures, group discussions and practicals. The course is a full-time course where students are also expected to devote much time to studies of their own. A project assignment is also an essential part of the course.
The examination is carried out throughout the course through required written reports of practicals as well as at the end of the course with a written examination.
What do you study after this course?
Suitable courses for further studies in related areas include Pharmacology, Immunology, Cellular and Molecular Immunology as well as several courses within the Biomedicine programs. You could also carry out a degree project, for instance within physiology or medical biology.
Mechanistic Toxicology. The molecular basis of how chemicals disrupt biological targets, Urs A. Boelsterli., Taylor & Francis 2007 Do not purschase, PDF version on-line from 2003 is ok.
The course is offered during the first part of the spring term. The language of instruction is English.