Course Syllabus


Tumor Biology and Oncology      DIS Logo

Semester & Location:

Spring 2022 - DIS Stockholm

Type & Credits:

Elective Course - 3 credits

Major Disciplines:

Biology, Pre-Medicine / Health Science


One year of biology at university level

Faculty Member:

Pavitra Kannan  

Program Director:

Susana Dietrich

Academic support: 

Time & Place:

Mondays & Thursdays, 13:15-14:35, D-508


Course Description

This course provides you with insight into the molecular and cellular events involved in tumor formation, progression, and metastasis. You learn about the clinical aspects of different types of cancer, diagnostic procedures, and the specific therapies (surgery and various oncological treatments). Examples of molecular, genetic, and other biological events related to cancer etiology, symptoms, and targets for cancer therapy are given in addition to other clinical aspects. Related topics are presented, such as cancer research methodology and its strengths and limitations, psychosocial perspectives of cancer diagnosis, and palliative oncology and supportive care. Emphasis is on the correlation between the molecular basis of cancer and its clinical implications.


Learning Objectives

After successful completion of this course, students will be able to:

  • Explain the biological basis for the occurrence and appearance of tumor cells
  • Identify the hallmarks of cancer and how they contribute to tumor survival
  • Explain the mode of action and rationale for different cancer treatments 
  • Discuss the psychological and social impact of receiving a cancer diagnosis
  • Evaluate findings in cancer research papers




Pavitra Kannan, PhD

Researcher at the Department of Microbiology, Tumor and Cell Biology at Karolinska Institutet. Research focuses on identifying mechanisms of resistance to cancer therapies using imaging, cell biology, and mathematics. Ph.D. in Biomedical Sciences (Karolinska Institutet, 2012). Postdoctoral research in cancer imaging (University of Oxford). 




  • Select chapters from the books:
    • Weinberg R. The Biology of Cancer (2nd ed). New York, NY: Garland Sciences, 2014. 
    • DeVita V. Cancer: Principles and Practice of Oncology (3rd ed). Philadelphia, PA: Wolters Kluwer, 2020.
  • Peer-reviewed scientific articles posted on Canvas.


Approach to Teaching

Different teaching formats will be used: interactive lectures, class discussions, group work, field studies, presentations, and a research proposal. Patient examples will be used to illustrate some of the topics. Students are expected to engage actively in class in oral presentations, discussions, group work, and exercises. After each lecture, a pdf of the presentation will be posted on Canvas.


Evaluation and Grading

To be eligible for a passing grade in this class all of the assigned work must be completed. Late assignments will be accepted, but the grade for the paper will be reduced by 10%/day. The factors influencing the final grade and the proportional importance of each factor is shown below:



Class participation


Preclass readings and quizzes


Oral presentation 1


Oral presentation 2


Final project proposal


Final project presentation



Final Project 

The aim of the final project will be to write and present a research proposal that presents a solution to one an unsolved cancer challenge. This project will give students the chance to integrate their new knowledge to develop an innovative cancer therapy, primary preventive method, or diagnostic/screening tool.

Expectations of Students & Code of Conduct

  • When indicated by instructor, laptops may be used for note‐taking, fact‐checking, or assignment in the classroom. At all other times, laptops and electronic devices should be put away during class time.
  • Readings must completed prior to the class session; a substantial part of the class is dependent on discussions of the assigned readings.
  • Students need to be present and proactive to receive full credit. The final grade will be affected by unexcused absences and lack of participation. Remember to be in class on time!
  • Classroom etiquette includes being respectful of others and their opinions, listening patiently to others and entering a dialogue in a constructive manner.
  • Students are expected to ask relevant questions in regards to the academic content .


Academic Regulations  

Please make sure to read the Academic Regulations on the DIS website. There you will find regulations on: 


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Course Summary:

Date Details Due