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BSc DNA Wars: How the Cell Strikes Back to Avoid Disease after Attacks on DNA

Catalog id : 7.346
 Course Level
Bachelors / UG

0 Months
 Start month

 Tuition fee

48140 USD
48140 USD

Application fee

International 75 USD
National 75 USD
Scores accepted
IELTS (min)7
TOEFL-IBT (min)90
TOEFL-PBT (min)577

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About this course

A never-ending molecular war takes place in the nucleus of your cells, with DNA damage occurring at a rate of over 20,000 lesions per cell per day. Where does this damage come from, and what are its consequences? What are the differences in the molecular blueprint between individuals who can sustain attacks on DNA and remain healthy compared to those who become sick? Constant exposure to exogenous factors commonly found in food, water, air, and tobacco smoke as well as endogenous byproducts of metabolism can damage DNA. If left unrepaired, this damage can lead to various disorders, such as diabetes, premature aging, neurodegenerative disorders, and cancer. To preserve the integrity of the genome, our cells have evolved an elegant collaboration among multiple DNA repair pathways, which respond to specific DNA lesions, and checkpoints, which arrest the cell cycle to allow additional time for repair to proceed or to stimulate programmed cell death if the damage is too extensive. An individual's distinct genetic background influences the susceptibility of his or her cells to particular types of damage and their ability to process specific lesions.

These differences can influence how cells from healthy individuals respond to damaging agents, which in turn can cause one individual to be more sensitive to a particular form of DNA damage than another. Thus, exposure to genotoxins that damage DNA, like the alkylating agent mustard gas, is dangerous because it can increase the susceptibility of cells to acquiring mutations that contribute to carcinogenesis and death. Counterintuitively, closely related chemicals like carmustine (also known as BCNU) are components of drug combinations used to treat cancer, and so genetic differences among individuals that influence pathways involved in the repair of DNA damage can play a role in responses to chemotherapeutic treatments. Additionally, individuals who harbor defects in a DNA repair pathway are generally more sensitive to the effects of DNA damage and are at an elevated risk of disease.

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Eligibility Criteria

Graduate Record Examination

Most MIT departments require the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) General Test and an appropriate Subject Test. page 4 of this booklet for information on the department to which you intend to apply. The fee for the GRE ranges approximately from $160 to $190 US. The General Test is offered only on the computer in the US and in most locations around the world. The computer-based GRE General Test is available year round, and appointments are scheduled on a first-come, first-served basis. Register early to maximize your chances of scheduling your preferred test date and time.

International English Language Testing System

IELTS exam measures ability to communicate in English across all four language skills – listening, reading, writing, and speaking – for people who intend to study or work where English is the language of communication.

Test of English as a Foreign Language                

 Students whose native language is not English may take the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL). A minimum score of 577 (233 for computer-based; 90 for internet-based) is required for visa certification. Many departments have higher score requirements.

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Course Modules

Week # Topics Key Dates
1 Introduction & Overview
2 Alkylating agents: How chemical warfare became medicine
3 Direct Repair: Levels of O6-methylguanine-DNA methyltransferase (MGMT) as a potential predictor of response to alkylation-based chemotherapeutics
4 Mismatch Repair: A guardian against replication errors
5 Mutations and Epigenetics: Multiple means by which inactivation of the mismatch repair pathway complicates the treatment of cancer
6 Base Excision Repair: Intermediate threat to genomic stability
7 Base Excision Repair: The GO system limits mutagenesis by oxidative damage
8 Field Trip to Blueprint Medicines Field Trip to Blueprint Medicines
9 16,568 base pairs: Mitochondrial DNA repair mechanisms and the deadly consequences of failing to maintain the mitochondrial genome Written assignment due
10 Extreme sun-sensitivity: Nucleotide excision repair defects in xeroderma pigmentosum patients
11 Unwinding less: Depletion of Werner helicase activity as both a cause and a treatment of disease
12 Stem cells: DNA damage and differentiation, do they mix?
13 Students Oral Presentation Assignments Oral Presentation assignments due

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How to Apply

International students fill out the same application as domestic students. For more information, you should read more about: 

  • Creating a MyMIT account
  • Part 1: Personal Information
  • Part 2: Essays, Academics, and Activities
  • Secondary School Report
  • Letters of Recommendation
  • Transcript
  • Interviewing
  • February Updates & Notes Form
  • Submitting Supplements

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