UCL Institute of Neurology


Cellular and Molecular Mechanisms of Disease (CLNEG021)

(15 credits)

Module Conveners: Dr Helene Plun-Favreau, Dr Jennifer Pocock, Dr Adrian Isaacs


The module covers the following areas: (i) genetics of CNS disorders, (ii) brain metabolism, neurotransmission & neurodegeneration, (iii) autoimmune disease and repair mechanisms.


The aim of the module is to provide students with an understanding of the cellular and molecular mechanisms of disease. This material provides the theoretical basis for topics explored in other modules on the programme.

Learning Outcomes

At the end of the module the students will have an understanding of (i) the genetics of disorders of the central nervous system, (ii) brain metabolism, neurotransmitters and neurodegeneration & (iii) Autoimmune disease and repair mechanisms. This understanding will be supported by workshops on laboratory techniques, brain anatomy, basic cell science & neuropathology.

Assessment criteria

2 hour unseen examination (short answer format)


  • The cell biology of the neuron
  • Cells of the nervous system
  • General principles of neurotransmission & neuropharmacology
  • Uptake & release of neurotransmitters
  • Classification and histology of brain tumours
  • Pathogenesis of neurodegenerative disease
  • Non-ionotropic receptors
  • Ionotropic receptors
  • Synaptic plasticity
  • Axon regeneration in the damaged CNS
  • Introduction to medical genetics
  • iPS cells
  • Mouse models of neurodegenerative disease
  • Brain anatomy
  • Stem cells and neural repair
  • Nitric Oxide: function and misfunction
  • Calcium: function and misfunction
  • Cellular mechanisms of neuroprotection
  • Mitochondrial disfunction in neurological disease
  • Brain energy metabolism
  • RNA mediated mechanisms of neurodegeneration
  • Neurogenetics Lecture/Masterclass
  • Principles of neurogenetics
  • Genetics of neurological disease
  • Neuronal death

Please note: Titles of lectures may change from year to year