This week marks the beginning of a new undergraduate biochemistry course at Mount Allison University: Toxicology (BIOC 3991 A).

Toxicology was designed by Christopher Dieni, and Fall 2013 is its first instance of being taught at Mount Allison. The course investigates the biochemical and physiological mechanisms of toxicity in animals, up to and including humans. It will begin with an explanation of the basic principles of toxicology. This will be followed by detailing the Absorption, Distribution, and Excretion of toxins in complex animals, as a function of the toxin’s structural properties. The biotransformation or Metabolism of a toxin (coupled with Absorption, Distribution, and Excretion to form the toxicological tenet known as “ADME”) will then be explored, investigating how an organism detoxifies a parent toxin with a plethora of defences, or, how they can sometimes transform the parent toxin into an even more active toxic metabolite. The molecular mechanisms of toxicity, including genotoxicity, developmental toxicity, and carcinogenesis will then be explored.

The course will be framed, overall, by headline news stories demonstrating how toxicology is present in our everyday lives.

As with previous courses taught by Chris, social media resources are used out of the classroom including a Facebook page and Twitter feed.

Toxicology is currently the largest 3rd-year course in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry for the Fall 2013 semester, in terms of the number of students registered. Students registered include 3rd- and 4th-year majors in Biochemistry, Biology, Chemistry, Psychology, and Environmental Science.

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