cod. 08523

Academic year 2013/14
1° year of course - First semester
Academic discipline
Biologia applicata (BIO/13)
"discipline generali per la formazione dell'odontoiatra"
Type of training activity
63 hours
of face-to-face activities
9 credits
course unit
in - - -

Learning objectives

At the end of this course:
1. Students should have a knowledge and understanding of biological facts, terms, principles, concepts, relationships and experimental techniques and of the correlation between structure and function at the different organizational levels.
2. Students should be able to apply an evolutionary perspective to interpreting the biological phenomena at different levels of organization (molecular, cellular, organismic) and to apply, where possible, their knowledge and understanding of biology and evolution in in medical research and practice.
3. students should acquire a knowledge of genetic principles and develop the ability to read, design and evaluate genetic pedegrees in order to assess the genetic basis of human disorders.
4. Appraise the implication of human evolution for understanding human physiological and pathological responses.


basic knowledge of physics, chemistry and biology.

Course unit content

The purpose of this course is to give a comprehensive overview of biological concepts and genetic principles and to gain an appreciation of the importance that Biology plays in medicine.
The first part of the course illustrates general concepts and principles of biology, the theory of Evolution as a unifying framework, cell biology and reproduction, sexual reproduction and gamtehogenesis.
The second part focalizes on genetics, from Mendel’s and Morgan’s experiments to human genetics and pedigree analysis, gene structure and expression.
The third part examines the relations between population genetic and evolution, speciation processes, Vertebrate evolution, including mammals and primates, to Hominids.
The fourth part focalizes on teeth and jaws evolution in mammals, particularly in Hominids, in relation to dietary habits.

Full programme

1. The Nature of science and biology: methods and organizing concepts. Diversity and unity of Life on Earth, emergent properties, correlation between structure and function, the Scientific method. The unifying principle of biology: The Theory of Evolution.
2. The chemical context of life: water and the structure and function of macromolecules. Origins and evolution of life on Earth.
3. Cell Biology. Procaryotic ed Eucaryotic cells. Membrane structure and function. Cell metabolism and energy trasformations. The reproduction of cells and cell cycle (binary scission and mitosis).
4. Sexual Riproduction. Meiosis and sexual life cycles. Oogenesis, Spermatogenesis and Hormonal regulation of reproduction in mammals. Evolution, consequences and adaptive significance of sexual reproduction. Parental Investment and sexual selection.
5. Genetics. - Mendel e the gene idea. Extension of mendelian genetics: the complex relationship between genotype and phenotype (incomplete dominance, multiple alleles, pleiotropy, epistasis, poligenic inheritance, nature vs nurture). The chromosomal basis of inheritance: Morgan’s experiments and chromosome maps. The chromosomal basis of ses and X-linked disorders. Human genetics: alterations of chromosome number or structure; recessively and dominantly inherited disorders. Genetic disorders in oral medicine. Multifactorial diseases.
6. The molecular basis of inheritance: DNA structure and replication. From gene to protein: Transcription, Translation and the genetic code. Point mutations. Regulation of gene expression in Procaryotic and eucaryotic cells. The Genome project.
7. Evolution. The Darwinian theory. Evidence from many fields validates the evolution theory. The modern evolutionary synthesis. The Hardy-Weinberg Theorem. Microevolution and its caueses. The origin of species. Macroevolution and Phylogeny. The evolutionary perspective in medicine: “Darwininan Medicine”.
8. Vertebrate diversity and phylogeny: an overview. Mammalian characteristics and Evolution of Primates. Jaws and teeth evolution.
9. Human Evolution.. Early Anthropoids, Australopitecines and the genus Homo. Evolution of brain and language. Evolution of the stomatognathic apparatus and diet in Ominids.


Campbell N., Reece et al. BIOLOGY. Pearson ed. 2009;
In alternative:
Purves et al., volumi vari, Zanichelli Ed. 2009;
SOLOMON et al. Fondamenti di Biologia. EDISES

Readings and resources - CD-Rom: Human Evolution;
Web-book: How humans evolved (
-Nesse RM, Williams G. Why we get sick.
- Matt Ridley. GENOME.

Teaching methods

During classroom lectures I will illustrate and discuss the state of the art, concepts and experiments in the specific issue of biology. The lectures will be in an interactive format and students are strongly encouraged to ask questions and insert comments. Discussion settings of small groups of students will examine relevant biological issues.
In class exercises on pedigree analysis and use of database resources such a OMIM ((Online Mendelian Inheritance in Man).

Assessment methods and criteria

During class there will be two written exams and student seminar.
The first exam is on the first course part, -cell biology and reproduction. It comprises 60 multiple choice and true-false quizzes and teo open questions.
The second exam is on genetics, with genetic problems, pedigree analysis and multiple choice quizzes plus 3 open questions.
The seminar will be assigned by the instructor on a specific topic.
At the end of the course there is a final oral exam on teeth evoulution, hominids and diet.

Students who fail or are absent to the in class exams will undergo a written and oral comprehensive exam.

-power-point presentation

Other information

Additional course material on the course website and on
An i-pad4 is available for students for self-learning sessions on specific topics (cell structure, mitosis, meiosi, DNA structure and replication, protein synthesis, Hominid evolution)
In class exercises on pedigree analysis and use of database resources such a OMIM ((Online Mendelian Inheritance in Man).