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Cancer Biology Class Launches at JHU Montgomery County Campus

For the first time, Johns Hopkins University is offering a course called “Biology of Cancer” to undergraduate students. The launch will be this summer at the university’s Montgomery County Campus.

Biology of Cancer will be taught by Meredith Safford, lecturer and coordinator for the Center for Biotechnology Education in the Krieger School of Arts and Sciences. Similar courses offered at the master’s level have been so popular that Johns Hopkins is offering a version of the course this summer at the undergraduate level.  The class is open to high school students as well.

“We have such overwhelming interest,” Safford said. “Everyone is touched by cancer. It is a very personal class.”

Applicants should have had completed biology coursework, preferably with a focus on cell biology. Coursework in molecular biology and genetics would also be helpful, Safford said.

The class will provide students with an overview of cancer diagnosis and treatment, with a focus on the biology of cancer. Students will learn why some people develop cancer and the immunology of the disease. They will also delve into preventive measures, issues surrounding diagnosis and genetic screenings for cancer, and different types of cancer, including lung cancer and breast cancer.

Students will also explore the roles that genetic errors, growth factors, oncogenes, tumor suppressors, genetic caretakers, cell survival and death, angiogenesis and metastasis play in cancer development.


When students complete the two-credit class, they should have a basic understanding of not only the biology of the disease but how to find information about cancer, how to ask probing questions when speaking to physicians and how to find reliable, accurate information about cancer on the Internet.

“This is critical knowledge everyone should have,” Safford said.

Guest experts are slated to speak to the class, Safford said, including liver cancer experts and a cancer survivor who will talk about patient advocacy.

The course runs from June 30 through July 11.

Interested? Apply.

CATEGORY: Academics, K-12 Outreach