This page was last updated on 13/07/2015.
Medsci 311 is a paper that doesn’t deserve its badpress. It is an enjoyable paper comprising of exciting laboratory components, stimulating lecture content, and extremely helpful lecturers. At its crux, the course wishes to produce autonomous thinkers and competent scientists. Reading journal articles that are often written by the respective lecturers, producing your own experiments, presenting a poster and working in a team are some such core values 311 wishes to pass on. There are only 2 lectures a week so there is plenty of time to read and appreciate the cardiovascular system.
Tips on how to do well:
Medsci 311 has 2 laboratory assignments. Each lab component will receive a 4 week span to complete. The lab in the first week will be a preparatory session, the second will be the actual experiment, the third will be a data-analysis session, and the fourth week will be an off week to do the lab report. The first laboratory assignment is the so-called “Sheep Lab.” This is by far one of the best labs of stage III. In groups of 4-6, you will be given the opportunity to place various catheters in the anesthetised sheep, and then perform several experiments to reproduce the Ventricular Function curve. The second lab series involves the production of your own experiment/intervention based on the apparatus provided. The best thing to do would be to explore the experiment in week 1 followed by some research of interventions produced by others in scientific journals before planning your own experiments. There are only 2 Lab reports but they are worth a lot! Best advice that we could give would be to bug demonstrators in the data-analysis lab session. They should give hints as to what they expect as they are the ones who will mark. Overall, personally I would rate MEDSCI 311 labs as one of my favourite experiences of my degree.
In addition to the labs, there is also a poster presentation component based on the cardiovascular control lab. This involves making a poster in your lab group and then presenting it to a few lecturers like those good old Science Fairs in intermediate school. Finally, there is a literature review to do based on any topic that is hot news in cardiovascular biology. This task seems daunting but is more than possible to do well in.
Cardiac and Vascular Function
The first 4 lectures are taught by Associate Prof. LeGrice. The content includes revision of the 6 cardiovascular lectures from Medsci 205, an in depth inspection into the mechanics of the ventricular walls, and the intrinsic and extrinsic regulation of the heart. Understanding this material requires self-discipline – make sure to read back on notes from Medsci 205, read articles written by LeGrice et al., and better still contact him if you are confused about any of the concepts. This field is rapidly evolving and his research is pioneering. The final 2 lectures of the series are taken by his colleague Prof. Bruce Smaill. These two lectures have a focus on the regulation of vascular function. The notes in the course guide for this section is very useful and worth memorising.
Cardiovascular Pharmacology and Disease
The first 4 lectures are taught by Anuj Bhargava. This series is about heart failure and arrhythmias. To do well in this section it is crucial to pay attention to what is said by Anuj (after all he is the course coordinator), read the journal articles he puts on cecil (usually he will say these readings are important), and to not be taken away by the notes in the course guide (they usually do not match with what Anuj is talking about). The final 2 lectures are about the state of the heart in diabetes and are taken by Dr Kim Mellor. These lectures are really nice; everything you need to know should be presented by her and the slides are very useful too.
This is 5 lecture series; the first 2 lectures are presented by Dr Rohit Ramchandra and the final 3 are by Dr Carolyn Barrett. The lectures cover the role of sympathetic nervous activity in physiology and pathophysiology in short term and long term regulation of blood pressure. Rohit’s lectures are well covered in a 90 odd page article written by Simon Malpas that he should put up on cecil (or easily accessible on the database). Alternatively, textbook could do the work but this will not include an understanding of recent endeavours. Carolyn’s first two lectures are covered well in Guyton and Hall textbook Chapter 19. Her final lecture can be confusing and is best explained by journal articles, such as those written by Osborn.
The first two lectures in this series are taken by Prof. Laura Bennet. Again, the tip to doing well in her section involves doing lots of readings from journal articles and revising the material from Medsci 205. Some of the titles are posted in the course guide and mostly are written by Bennet and Gunn. More often than not her question will be there in the exam (but she should give hints). This is followed by a lecture on Glucocorticoids by Dr. Mhoyra Fraser, fetal programming by Associate Prof. Mark Vickers, and a clinical lecture to consolidate on Prof. Laura Bennet by Prof. Peter Stone. These 3 lectures are more straight forward. Slides and lecture presentation should suffice.