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In this course, you will learn about the conserved, molecular machinery that eliminates cells through programmed cell death type I, also referred to as ‘apoptosis’. Through apoptosis many cells are eliminated from our body during development and throughout adult life, and deregulated apoptosis can lead to various diseases such as cancer and auto-immune diseases. Rather than just telling you about the molecular machinery of apoptosis and how it works to kill cells, I will walk you through and discuss with you the critical experiments that led to the discovery of the key components of this molecular machinery and the mechanisms through which they function. I will also discuss how apoptosis research can help to develop novel therapeutics and consider the questions that remain open in the field.

The course will cover the following topics:

1.      Introduction to programmed cell death and apoptosis

2.      The BCL-2 family of proteins

3.      Apaf proteins

4.      Caspases

5.      Mechanisms that regulate apoptosis

6.      Non-apoptotic functions of components of the central apoptosis machinery

7.      Diseases caused by deregulated apoptosis