BPS2011 - Pharmacology I: Biochemical signalling - 2019

6 points, SCA Band 2, 0.125 EFTSL

Undergraduate - Unit

Refer to the specific census and withdrawal dates for the semester(s) in which this unit is offered.


Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences

Chief examiner(s)

Dr Betty Exintaris


Dr Betty Exintaris

Unit guides



  • First semester 2019 (On-campus)


BPS1011: Human Physiology I: Cells to systems

BPS1022: Medicinal chemistry II: Reactivity and biomolecules


Unit previously coded PSC2011


This unit lays a foundation of knowledge about how biomolecules such as proteins, nucleotides and lipids are involved in relaying extracellular signals to the inside of the cell. An understanding of how biomolecules respond to ligands (endogenous and exogenous) to activate specific cellular responses and how these responses are linked to physiological functions, human health and drug action. The gastrointestinal system will be used as an exemplar system to investigate receptor families, signal transduction and the consequences of different types of signalling pathways within the cell.

Students will continue to build on the link between a strong foundational knowledge of the physiological basis of disease (pathophysiology), and the causal connections between cell biochemistry, body function at the tissue, organ and system level and human health; how aberrant signalling may be modified through identification of appropriate protein, lipid or DNA targets (drug discovery: target identification and validation).

Students will practice fundamental laboratory techniques and experimental approaches to solving biological, biochemical and physiological research questions, and how to record, interpret and communicate the outcomes of such investigations to a variety of audiences.

Topics to be covered include:

  • protein synthesis, modification, trafficking and expression in the cell (and regulatory mechanisms);
  • proteins as receptors, and receptor families, including: ligand-gated ion channels, G-protein coupled receptors, tyrosine kinase receptors;
  • signal transduction mechanisms;
  • DNA as a target;


At the end of this unit students will be able to:

  1. Explain how the structure of biomolecules influences their physiological function;
  2. Explain how the interaction of a ligand or binding molecule and a receptor biomolecule effect cellular responses;
  3. Compare different receptor families with regards to endogenous and exogenous ligand characteristics, and how the signal is transduced into a response via different signalling pathways;
  4. Predict the effect of signalling pathway disruptions on physiological functions and human health;
  5. Suggest a rational drug therapy strategy to target a disease state with known pathophysiological causes;
  6. Design and safely and effectively perform an hypothesis-driven experimental approach to investigate cellular signalling processes using common biochemical and physiological techniques;
  7. Record, analyse and critically interpret experimental data and report it in written and visual formats.


End-of-semester examination (50 %) and in-semester assessment (50 %)

Workload requirements

  • Twelve 1-hour online modules (discovery)
  • Twenty-four 1-hour lectures
  • Thirty-six hours of laboratory classes and workshops

See also Unit timetable information

Additional information on this unit is available from the faculty at: