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Curs Acadèmic: 2022/23

8041 - Màster Universitari en Recerca Biomèdica (BIOMED)

32553 - Organismes Model i Enfermetats Humanes

Informació de la Guia Docent

Curs acadèmic:
Centre acadèmic:
804 - Centre Màsters del Departament de Medicina i Ciències de la Vida
8041 - Màster Universitari en Recerca Biomèdica (BIOMED)
32553 - Organismes Model i Enfermetats Humanes
Idiomes de docència:
Teoria: Grup 1: Anglès
Cristina Pujades Corbi, Andres Ozaita Mintegui, Eulàlia de Nadal Clanchet, Ana Janic , Alfonso Martinez Arias, Francisco Real Arribas
Periode d'Impartició:
Primer trimestre


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Resultats de l'aprenentatge

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Objectius de Desenvolupament Sostenible

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Academic Year: 2022/23

8041 - Master in Biomedical Research

32553 - Model Organisms and Human Disease

Teaching Guide Information

Academic Course:
Academic Center:
804 - Masters Centre of the Department of Medicine and Life Sciences
8041 - Master in Biomedical Research
32553 - Model Organisms and Human Disease
Teaching languages:
Theory: Group 1: English
Cristina Pujades Corbi, Andres Ozaita Mintegui, Eulàlia de Nadal Clanchet, Ana Janic , Alfonso Martinez Arias, Francisco Real Arribas
Teaching Period:
First quarter


Descriptive details concerning the subject

Name of the subject: Model Organisms and Human Disease

Code: MOHD

Type of subject: Optional

ECTS: 5, 125 hours of student work (30h lectures, 10h students’ presentations).

Lecturing period: The course comprises 4 weeks.

Classes are from 14.00 to 14.50h, and from 15.00 to 15.50h, Monday to Friday. 

Coordination: Cristina Pujades, Department of Medicine and Life Sciences, Universitat Pompeu Fabra


Teaching details

Language: English

Lecturers: Laia de Nadal, Andrés Ozaita, Paco Real, Ana Janic and Cristina Pujades from the UPF.

Invited speakers will be from different institutions.



In ways that were not predictable many years ago, model organisms have changed the study of human biology. A great number of developmental regulators discovered in Drosophila and C. elegans are important factors in human genetic disease, and with complete genome sequences available in many organisms, we have the dictionary to translate among organisms. Because of the evolutionary conservation of developmental regulators, we have learned about the molecular basis of a number of human birth defects.

The scope of this course is to give you a glims of the applicability of different model systems to biomedical research. Applications of genetic recombination and modified organisms to biotechnology and biomedicine will be discussed as well as emergent developments in gene therapy and regenerative medicine.

Associated skills

Competences to be attained in the subject

General competences

  • To develop skills for critical analyses and synthesis of acquired information.
  • To acquire abilities for communication of scientific information.
  • To acquire basic abilities to outline and design experimental approaches to solve specific questions.

Specific competences

  • Basic concepts on yeast, fly, fish and mice genetics. Knowledge of mutant collections.
  • Knowledge of the development of new powerful tools and techniques to dissect the molecular processes that regulate development, such as CRISPR genome editing technology, or optogenetics.
  • Knowledge of complete genome sequences now available, in vivo techniques and the ability to express any gene at any time or place in whole organisms.
  • Knowledge of the different organisms used nowadays in biomedical research: advantages and disadvantages.

Learning outcomes

Learning aims

1. To understand the concept of model organism and how developmental biology brought them into the scene.

2. To get basic user knowledge of some of the most popular tools for forward and reverse genetics.

3. To know basic concepts on genetic and molecular biology experimental techniques.

4. Knowledge on behavioural studies in mice.

5. To understand the importance of the choice of in vivo models in biomedical research.

6. To know the basics of model organisms as useful systems for biomedical research.

Sustainable Development Goals

Good health and well-being.

Quality education.




The course will be entirely in English, as well as the articles and class materials. Students are expected to have an English level sufficient to understand scientific articles, and basic conversational and writing skills to discuss and do oral and written presentations of scientific literature.


Classes will be at an advanced level, with an emphasis on the analysis of biological processes from a molecular, biochemical, and cellular basis. Students are expected to have knowledge on Cell Biology, Molecular Genetics and Biochemistry equivalent to the level achieved in a University degree in Biology, Biochemistry, Biotechnology, Genetics.




Block 1: The transformation of the model organism: model organisms in biology. Lecturer: C Pujades

Overview of the subject.

The transfiguration of the model organism: a flavour from worms to mice.

Building animals: from DNA to form. Hierarchical organization of the biological systems.

A little taste of the classics: Xenopus and chick.


Block 2: Model organisms in biomedical research: the advantage of unicellular eukaryotes. Lecturers: L de Nadal 

The why and how of yeast: the biology and use of the unicellular eukaryote S. cerevisiae.

Some examples: studying fundamental cellular processes in eukaryotes, genetic screens, two-hybrid system, and identification of human proteins.

Yeast as heterologous expression system in Biotechnology.


Block 3: From unicellular eukaryotes to multicellular ones. The use of invertebrate models. Lecturer: C Pujades

From worms to flies: triumphs of forward genetics.

The elegant worm (C elegans): MicroRNAs and developmental timing genes in life-span regulation: the breakthrough for gene-silencing.

The flatworm as a model for stem-cell biology: learning how to regenerate tissues !

Why the fly? All what you always wanted to know about Drosophila melanogaster genetics for disease modelling.

Lessons from the Drosophila neoplastic tumor suppressors: cancer and tumor growth.


Block 4: Let’s fish! Why fish are so useful in biomedical research? Lecturers: C Pujades

Introduction to fish models: fugu as a good system for genomic studies, and zebrafish for genetic analysis.

The power of genetics: genetic screenings and some genome-editing systems.New avenues using zebrafish as a biomedical research model -development of high throughput small molecule screens-.

The fish as a cancer patient: xenografts and cancer transgenic models.

Can we use zebrafish for cardiovascular analyses and modelling ictus?

The fish as an avatar of human neuronal disorders and tissue regeneration.

Optogenetics: monitoring and modulating neuronal behaviour in vivo. Studying the neuronal circuits.


Block 5: Heading to an anthropocentric view: the use of the mouse as a model. Lecturers: A Janic, C Pujades, A Ozaita, P Real

Using mice to model cancer: recapitulating polygenic defects.

The mouse as a useful tool to study the mechanisms of memory encoding in health and disease. 

Understanding development provides insights into developmental disorders and the other way around: the role of mice as the closest (?) experimental model to humans.

Block 6: New models for new perspectives: human organoids to tackle challenges in precision medicine. Lecturer: C Pujades

Organoids as a complementary model organism to study tissue regeneration.

Organoids as models for human disease studies: obstacles and possible solutions.


Teaching Methods

Format and methodology

The course will be divided into six blocks attending to the main model organisms used in biomedical research, starting with the less complex systems and ending with mammals and organoids.

The format and distribution of the classes will be: i) lectures will be used to present an overview of current topics, ii) oral presentations given by the students, and iii) jigsaw-classroom.

Students’ oral communications

Groups of 2-4 students will work on an article proposed by the teacher. The article will be studied, summarized and prepared for oral presentation. They must submit an abstract of the article at most of one page indicating the title of the article, the names of the authors and the names of the students who will submit it. The abstract should explain the purpose of the work, the results and the conclusion. It is important to put the study in context and discuss it.

Oral presentations will be 7 min (if students do not finish on time, they will not be allowed to proceed), followed by 3-5 min of questions. Students will prepare a powerpoint with a maximum of 6-7 slides, containing an introduction/state of the art, the objectives of the work, the main results and a discussion. All members of the group must prepare the talk as the person in charge of doing so will be assigned randomly at the time of the presentation. All students will be required to participate in the question-and-answer session, and the grade will be the same for the whole group. So, all of you need to do it right.

Jigsaw session 

Students will be distributed in groups of 2-3 people and each group will be assigned a subject to investigate before coming to the classroom. During the synchronic session, the knowledge generated by each group will be shared by combining the components of the different groups. Finally, groups will have the time to produce a short board presentation summarizing the content of the session.

In all sessions, students should be able to select the highlights of the topic and to concisely explain them.



Evaluation: General Assessment Criteria

The evaluation will consist in five parts, with percentages of the total grade indicated in the following list:

1. Oral presentations by students: pwp, oral presentation and response to questions (20% of the total grade). 

2. Jigsaw session by students (10% of the total grade).

3. Multiple choice exam (30% of the total grade).

4. Written exam (short questions) (40% of the total grade).

5. Active participation in the classes and in scientific discussions will be positively taken into account.


To pass the course, you have to score in the multiple choice AND the short questions exams at least 4.5/10. There will not be a second exam or opportunity to pass the course.

Bibliography and information resources

It will be provided in all powerpoints.

Curso Académico: 2022/23

8041 - Máster Universitario en Investigación Biomédica (BIOMED)

32553 - Organismos Modelo y Emfermedades Humanas

Información de la Guía Docente

Curso Académico:
Centro académico:
804 - Centro Másteres del Departamento de Medicina y Ciencias de la Vida
8041 - Máster Universitario en Investigación Biomédica (BIOMED)
32553 - Organismos Modelo y Emfermedades Humanas
Idiomas de docencia:
Teoría: Grupo 1: Inglés
Cristina Pujades Corbi, Andres Ozaita Mintegui, Eulàlia de Nadal Clanchet, Ana Janic , Alfonso Martinez Arias, Francisco Real Arribas
Periodo de Impartición:
Primer trimestre


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Competencias asociadas

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Resultados del aprendizaje

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Objetivos de Desarrollo Sostenible

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Metodología docente

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Bibliografía y recursos de información

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