PSYCHIAT 3200 - Fundamentals of Biological Psychiatry

North Terrace Campus - Semester 2 - 2014

This course aims to convey fundamental knowledge and understanding of Biological Psychiatry. Biological Psychiatry represents a multidisciplinary approach towards understanding psychiatric disease with input from the fields of genetics, biochemistry, molecular biology, and neurobiology. The course will begin with material introducing the field of Biological Psychiatry and will then go on to elucidate some of the more prevalent psychiatric disorders affecting Australia (both indigenous populations and otherwise) and the rest of the world. Subsequent material will then cover the scientific approaches and techniques commonly used in the field of Biological Psychiatry to investigate the causes, the underlying biological mechanisms, as well as potential therapeutic interventions relevant for psychiatric disorders.

  • General Course Information
    Course Details
    Course Code PSYCHIAT 3200
    Course Fundamentals of Biological Psychiatry
    Coordinating Unit Psychiatry
    Term Semester 2
    Level Undergraduate
    Location/s North Terrace Campus
    Units 3
    Contact Up to 3 hours per week
    Prerequisites For BHLTH and BPSYC students as part of the Neuroscience major: ANAT SC 1102; ANAT SC 1103; PATHOL 2200. No prerequisites will be required for MBBS students
    Restrictions Available to 2nd year MBBS students; 3rd year BPSYC and 3rd year BHLTH students
    Course Description This course aims to convey fundamental knowledge and understanding of Biological Psychiatry. Biological Psychiatry represents a multidisciplinary approach towards understanding psychiatric disease with input from the fields of genetics, biochemistry, molecular biology, and neurobiology. The course will begin with material introducing the field of Biological Psychiatry and will then go on to elucidate some of the more prevalent psychiatric disorders affecting Australia (both indigenous populations and otherwise) and the rest of the world. Subsequent material will then cover the scientific approaches and techniques commonly used in the field of Biological Psychiatry to investigate the causes, the underlying biological mechanisms, as well as potential therapeutic interventions relevant for psychiatric disorders.
    Course Staff

    Course Coordinator: Dr David Stacey

    Course Timetable

    The full timetable of all activities for this course can be accessed from Course Planner.

  • Learning Outcomes
    Course Learning Outcomes

    No information currently available.

    University Graduate Attributes

    No information currently available.

  • Learning Resources
    Required Resources
    Students will not require a textbook for this course. However, they will be required to read additional material on a weekly basis. Required reading for each lecture will be posted on MyUni, along with relevant URLs. Students will submit assignments using Turnitin, so familiarity with this system is required (http://www.adelaide.edu.au/myuni/tutorials/content/Turnitin_submitting_as_a_Student.html).
    Recommended Resources
    Familiarity with electronic databases for literature searching is highly recommended (i.e., PubMed: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed) as students are encouraged to supplement the required reading with extracurricular reading. Familiarity with the University of Adelaide library will also be useful.
    Online Learning
    Lecture notes will be posted to MyUni prior to lecture commencement so students can print them off and bring them to the lecture if they wish. Lecture recordings will be posted to MyUni after each lecture ends. Both required and recommended reading lists will also be posted to MyUni.
  • Learning & Teaching Activities
    Learning & Teaching Modes
    There will be an eclectic approach to teaching and learning.

    •    Didactic teaching will be complemented with tutorial-style teaching, whereby students will be encouraged to discuss themes from lectures and complete relevant practical tasks within small groups.  This will give students the opportunity to better understand, synthesise, apply, and communicate lecture content, whilst also promoting an environment whereby students can facilitate other student’s learning.  Overall, it is hoped that a combination of didactic and tutorial-style teaching will maximise knowledge transfer.

    •    Each lecture or tutorial slot will last approximately 1 hour (i.e., 50 minutes (including questions) plus a 10 minute break).  The full quota of students will attend lectures together, whilst for tutorials, students will be split into groups of 20-30.  We will consider segregating students from different programmes for tutorials if required (i.e., if we feel there is value in approaching tutorials in slightly distinct ways depending on whether students are from the MBBS or the Bachelor of Health Sciences for example).  

    •    Students will be given required (and recommended) reading to be completed either before or after lectures and tutorials to further facilitate knowledge transfer-    Students will be given in-depth feedback on assessments after marking and they will also be given the opportunity to complete a mock assessment during the tutorial in week 1.  It is hoped that formative feedback from the mock assessment will familiarise students with the marking criteria thereby enhancing their potential to perform well in subsequent assessments.  

    •    Students will be treated as independent and active learners.  They will be encouraged to direct their own learning outside of lectures and tutorials, whereby in addition to completing the required readings they should also actively seek out other relevant literature and learning aids.

    •    Students will be encouraged to consider content from lectures within the context of other lectures to facilitate better synthesis of knowledge.

    •    Students will also be expected to reflect upon and assess their own learning throughout this course and will be required to be flexible in their approach if necessary.


    Workload

    The information below is provided as a guide to assist students in engaging appropriately with the course requirements.

    The information below is provided as a guide to assist students in engaging appropriately with the course requirements.

    Contact time is 3 hours per week (1x morning / afternoon block) over a 12 week period (36 hours total).

    Students should expect to spend another 120 hours over the course of the semester engaged in the following:
    •    Required and recommended readings
    •    Extracurricular readings
    •    Preparation of assignments.


    Learning Activities Summary
    This course is designed to convey knowledge and understanding of the Fundamentals of Biological Psychiatry to 2nd and 3rd year undergraduate students and so all learning activities will reflect this.

    Each lecture or tutorial slot will last approximately 1 hour (i.e., 50 minutes (including questions) plus a 10 minute break).  The full quota of students will attend lectures together, whilst for tutorials, students will be split into groups of 20-30.  We will consider segregating students from different programmes for tutorials if required (i.e., if we feel there is value in approaching tutorials in slightly distinct ways depending on whether students are from the MBBS or the Bachelor of Health Sciences for example).  See below for a break-down of the units along with their constitutive lectures and tutorials.  


    Week Topic Lecture
    Week 1 Introduction to Psychiatric Disorders This is an introductory unit designed to initially define the aims of the course and then to relate to students some of the major psychiatric disorders currently affecting Australia (indigenous and otherwise) and the rest of the world.  This unit will include information concerning clinical symptoms, diagnosis, treatment (both current and future), and it will also touch upon some of the underlying pathophysiology with more in-depth detail to follow as the course progresses.   i) Lecture      
    Introduction to Psychiatric Disorders
    ii) Lecture     
    Affective Disorders - Depression and Anxiety
    iii) Tutorial    
    Mock assessment with feedback designed to familiarise students with the marking criteria (students will be provided with 2 short passages of material related to one of the above lectures and will be asked to compare and contrast – no prior knowledge is assumed for this task)
    Week 2 Introduction to Psychiatric Disorders iv) Lecture    
    Psychoses - Schizophrenia and Bipolar Disorder
    v) Lecture    
    Addiction - Substance and Behavioural Addiction
    vi) Tutorial    
    DSMIV / V and Diagnosis of case studies (students will be introduced to the DSM and will be asked to diagnose and discuss case studies in groups.  The aim is to illustrate the difficulties associated with diagnosis)


    Week 3 Neurobiology of Psychiatric Disorders This unit will begin by introducing basic neurobiological concepts as they apply to psychiatric disease in general.  This will then be followed by a discussion of some of the major neurotransmitter systems, pathways, and networks in the brain along with their relevance to specific psychiatric disorders such as Schizophrenia and Depression.  Finally, the contributions of modern neuroimaging techniques - including Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) and Positron Emission Tomography (PET) - to our understanding of the Neurobiology of psychiatric disorders will be outlined and discussed.    i) Lecture    
    Introduction to the Neurobiology of Psychiatric Disease
    ii) Lecture    
    Glutamate and GABA in Psychiatric Disease
    iii) Lecture    
    The Serotonergic System in Major Depression
    Week 4 Neurobiology of Psychiatric Disorders iv) Lecture    
    The Dopaminergic System in Schizophrenia and Addiction
    v) Lecture    
    Neuroimaging Paradigms in Psychiatric Disease
    vi) Tutorial    
    Quiz or group exercise designed to consolidate knowledge of neurobiology within the context of psychiatric disease
    Week 5 Psychiatric Disorders Across the Lifespan This unit will begin by outlining the relationship between abnormal brain development and psychiatric disorders sometimes referred to as “neurodevelopmental” disorders, such as Schizophrenia and Autism.  Old-age psychiatric disorders including Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease shall then be described to include an outline of current knowledge of the underlying pathophysiology, whilst key issues surrounding old-age psychiatry, namely the expected societal and economic impacts of an ageing population, shall be discussed. i) Lecture    
    Psychiatric Disorders and the Developing Brain
    ii) Lecture    
    Old-Age Psychiatry I
    iii) Lecture    
    Old-Age Psychiatry II
    Week 6 Neuroinflammation in Major Psychiatric Disorders This unit introduces the concept of neuroinflammation whilst also describing how neuroinflammation is relevant for psychiatric disease and related phenotypes. i) Lecture     
    Introduction to Neuroinflammation
    ii) Lecture    Neuroinflammation as a Mechanism of Cognitive and Behavioural Dysfunction Relevant to Neuropsychiatric Disorders
    iii) Tutorial     
    Group exercise designed to consolidate knowledge of neuroinflammatory mechanisms in psychiatric disease and to discuss / develop strategies to harness this as a possible therapeutic intervention for psychiatric disease
    Week 7 Fundamentals of Psychiatric Genetics This unit highlights the major impact that human genetic approaches have had on psychiatry research.  Students will first be introduced to the field of Psychiatric Genetics, which will include a primer on the concept of a gene and the basics of genetics.  The heritability of psychiatric disorders will then be established before outlining the way in which genetic approaches have evolved over the years in order to address the aetiology of psychiatric disease. i) Lecture    
    Introduction to Psychiatric Genetics
    ii) Lecture    
    Are Psychiatric Disorders Heritable?
    iii) Lecture    
    Identification of Genes Involved in Psychiatric Disease I – the Candidate Gene Approach
    Week 8 Fundamentals of Psychiatric Genetics i) Lecture    
    Identification of Genes Involved in Psychiatric Disease II - Genome-Wide Approaches
    ii) Lecture   Gene-Environment Interactions in Psychiatry
    iii) Tutorial    
    Candidate Gene Association Study (students will have the opportunity to analyse and interpret mock candidate gene association data)
    Week 9 Molecular Psychiatry This unit will introduce and describe some of the key molecular approaches that have emerged out of a need to complement and extend upon traditional genetic and genomic approaches in psychiatric research.  Gene expression studies will be emphasised in the context of psychiatric disorders, whilst the importance of study at the protein level will also be highlighted.  Furthermore, the integral role of bioinformatics and biostatistics in integrating, manipulating, and sharing large-scale molecular data sets originating from genomic and proteomic studies will be discussed.       i) Lecture    
    Introduction to Molecular Psychiatry
    ii) Lecture    
    Functional Genomics and Proteomics in Psychiatry Research  
    iii) Lecture    
    Bioinformatics and Biostatistics
    Week 10 Animal Models of Psychiatric Disorders This unit highlights the importance and describes the various applications of animal research relevant to psychiatric disorders.  The concept of the intermediate phenotype, or “endophenotype”, will initially be defined, and then the most commonly used psychiatry-related behavioural tasks in animal research will be described.  Genetically modified (or manipulated) mouse and rat models will also be discussed, whilst a tutorial will give students the opportunity to discuss the ethical issues surrounding animal research as well as the associated limitations. i) Lecture     
    Introduction to Murine Models of Psychiatric Disease I - Endophenotypes and Behavioural Tasks
    ii) Lecture    
    Introduction to Murine Models of Psychiatric Disease II - Genetic Mouse Models in the Study of Biological Mechanisms and Therapeutic Interventions
    iii) Tutorial    
    Ethical Issues and Limitations Concerning Translation into the Human Condition
    Week 11 Key Concepts in Translational Psychiatry This unit stresses the importance of translational research with the potential to make immediate and significant improvements in psychiatric clinics.  Biomarker and pharmacogenetic research that aims to improve upon current diagnostic and treatment response prediction criteria will be outlined with examples of notable progress from the literature.  Furthermore, novel biological therapeutic interventions such as stem cells will also be discussed. i) Lecture    
    Role of Biomarkers in the Diagnosis of Major Psychiatric Disorders Including Depression and Schizophrenia
    ii) Lecture   Pharmacogenetics of Major Psychiatric Disorders iii) Lecture    
    Novel Biological Therapeutic Interventions
    Week 12 Poster Presentations and Feedback Earlier in the course, students will be divided into groups (4 students per group) to prepare and give a poster presentation in a conference-like format during this session.  Each group will be assigned assessors who will ask questions and grade their overall performance / poster on the day.  The cost of printing posters will be covered by the Discipline of Psychiatry.  Students will also be asked to complete a course feedback form during this session.     The poster presentation will constitute 20% of student’s final mark for this elective.
  • Assessment

    The University's policy on Assessment for Coursework Programs is based on the following four principles:

    1. Assessment must encourage and reinforce learning.
    2. Assessment must enable robust and fair judgements about student performance.
    3. Assessment practices must be fair and equitable to students and give them the opportunity to demonstrate what they have learned.
    4. Assessment must maintain academic standards.

    Assessment Summary
    Assessment Task Assessment Type Weighting
    1500-Word Literature Review Formative/Summative 25%
    Group Poster 20%
    2000-Word Essay 30%
    2hr Exam 25%
    Assessment Related Requirements
    Students must achieve a minimum of 50% in each summative assessment in order to pass the course.

    Attendance atlectures and tutorials will not form part of the overall assessment, though attendance is expected to correlate highly with assessment performance
    Assessment Detail

    1) Literature review:
    Provide a detailed literature review of one topic selected from the list posted on MyUni.  Highlight specific research papers you think have made a major impact on your chosen topic, identify important questions yet to be answered, and make suggestions as to future research to address these questions.  (1500 words)  (25%)

    Referencing should be in Harvard format, as per the following link:
    http://www.adelaide.edu.au/writingcentre/referencing_guides/harvardStyleGuide.pdf

    2) Poster presentation:
    In collaboration with your designated group, prepare a poster presentation summarising your allotted research paper.  Be prepared to provide a concise verbal summary in conjunction with your poster and also to answer questions.  (A0 poster)  (20%)

    Groups will be designated at the beginning of the course on MyUni.

    3) Essay:
    Describe the difficulties associated with elucidating and treating psychiatric disorders.  How do you think contemporary Biological Psychiatry has helped, or can help, to overcome these difficulties?  Use examples from the literature.  (2000 words)  (30%)

    Referencing should be in Harvard format, as per the above link.

    4) Exam:
    You have 2hrs to complete 6 out of the 10 questions (20 mins per question).  Please answer in a concise and structured manner with a brief introduction (i.e., definition of relevant terms) and conclusion for each answer.  Full essay-style answers are not required; answers will not be judged on writing style but they will be judged on clarity.  Feel free to draw diagrams or figures to clarify your answers where appropriate.  (25%)    

    An example exam paper will be made available through MyUni.

    Submission
    Students will be required to submit their assignments using Turnitin, instructions can be found at (http://www.adelaide.edu.au/myuni/tutorials/content/Turnitin_submitting_as_a_Student.html). A cover sheet is not required. Late submission of an assignment will result in a 5% deduction (per day) from the mark for that assignment (i.e., the final mark for an assignment submitted 3 days late will be deducted 15%). In the event of extenuating circumstances, these circumstances should be communicated to the course coordinator well in advance of the deadline in order to be able to arrange for an extension. Turn-around for the provision of grades and feedback from assessments will be ≤ 4 weeks.
    Course Grading

    Grades for your performance in this course will be awarded in accordance with the following scheme:

    M10 (Coursework Mark Scheme)
    Grade Mark Description
    FNS   Fail No Submission
    F 1-49 Fail
    P 50-64 Pass
    C 65-74 Credit
    D 75-84 Distinction
    HD 85-100 High Distinction
    CN   Continuing
    NFE   No Formal Examination
    RP   Result Pending

    Further details of the grades/results can be obtained from Examinations.

    Grade Descriptors are available which provide a general guide to the standard of work that is expected at each grade level. More information at Assessment for Coursework Programs.

    Final results for this course will be made available through Access Adelaide.

  • Student Feedback

    The University places a high priority on approaches to learning and teaching that enhance the student experience. Feedback is sought from students in a variety of ways including on-going engagement with staff, the use of online discussion boards and the use of Student Experience of Learning and Teaching (SELT) surveys as well as GOS surveys and Program reviews.

    SELTs are an important source of information to inform individual teaching practice, decisions about teaching duties, and course and program curriculum design. They enable the University to assess how effectively its learning environments and teaching practices facilitate student engagement and learning outcomes. Under the current SELT Policy (http://www.adelaide.edu.au/policies/101/) course SELTs are mandated and must be conducted at the conclusion of each term/semester/trimester for every course offering. Feedback on issues raised through course SELT surveys is made available to enrolled students through various resources (e.g. MyUni). In addition aggregated course SELT data is available.

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