New horizons: cancer and the genomic revolution

Dr Leah Marks, lead educator at the University of Glasgow, talks about the free online course, “Cancer in the 21st Century: the Genomic Revolution.”


Cancer in the 21st century

Cancer is a word which can strike fear into the heart. However, as improved healthcare leads to more people than ever before living well into old age, cancer will become a condition that many more of us will face during our lifetime. Increasing numbers of people will also fall into the category of those who are “living with cancer,” thanks to the enormous progress in cancer therapy in recent decades.

But what does the future hold? Will we find a cure for cancer? This free online course from the University of Glasgow examines these questions by looking at where we’ve come from, where we are now and, finally, where we’re going.

On our 6 week journey we will explore a variety of key areas, beginning with how our understanding of cancer has developed. No longer seen as one disease, we will explore the idea that each cancer has its own genetic signature. We’ll look at the question of why some people get cancer and others don’t – taking into account genetics as well as the environment.

In the second half of the course we’ll move on to look at what would happen to you today, in the 21st century, if you were diagnosed with cancer. A variety of specialists including radiologists, pathologists, surgeons and oncologists will take part and we’ll also hear about the patient experience first-hand. You’ll be amazed at some of the sophisticated approaches which are now widely used.

Finally, we’ll discover, from some of the leading experts in the field, the huge strides forward that are being taken in the realms of genomic cancer medicine. You’ll gain an insight into some of the discoveries that will form the treatments of tomorrow, and hear about how these discoveries make it from bench to bedside. Along the way there’ll be plenty of opportunity to discuss current issues with your fellow learners and do some investigating yourself.

To find out more, join the free online course, “Cancer in the 21st Century: the Genomic Revolution” now.

Category Learning

Comments (22)


  • Jill Cliffe

    I am an 1982 immunology graduate of Glasgow University and am looking forward to expanding my knowledge on current issues. I am retired and trying to keep my mind active.

  • LorraINE Smith

    I am looking forwards to doing this course. I am a poor typist, so am slow in responding. Please be patient with me. I am elderly, but interested. I retired in 1994. I also love to travel. I have been to Glasgow and to Edinburgh. I did radiology in the U.K. at UCH Hospital in London.

  • Francis Ugochukwu

    I am a graduate of Biochemistry(science not medical). I would like to specialize in Genomic medicine but i’m thinking of going back to study Medicine(MBBS) inorder to get sound knowledge of the human anatomy, physiology and their likes before studying the Genomic medicine. Please i need your advice?

  • Othieno godfrey

    Am a ugandan,a health educator with a clinical background willing to do this course on canser.Can i apply now?

  • Amr

    What is required of me in this course ? I mean OK it is 4 hours per week but is there a set time for when I have to do these hours, and if so when. Basically I’d like it if how this course will function throughout the duration stated

  • joel onaba

    Hi is it possible to study more than one course and any other among the same category? pliz let me know about this

  • Evamarie

    Hi, I am a live in carer and would like to know could i do more than i course?

  • Constantinos

    Can I participate in more than one courses?

  • saurabh yadav

    I am interested in reading the material and watching the videos from a course that has ended called “Cancer in the 21st Century: The Genomic Revolution”. Can I explore last year’s (2014) videos and material? Please help.

  • Katerina

    I am interested in reading the material and watching the videos from a course that has ended called “Cancer in the 21st Century: The Genomic Revolution”. Where and how can I access this information please?

  • Qing Shi

    I’m new. I’m interesting to learn more about cancer due to personal reason. I’m worrying about if the course is too difficult to me as my major is Engineering. So the course is required Medicine background? Thanks.

    • The FutureLearn team

      Hi Qing Shi, thank you for your comment. A background in biology may be helpful on this course but isn’t may have prior knowledge who you will be able to learn from, but many others will be novices like yourself so it is certainly worth trying out. The course started today but you can still sign up here:
      Happy learning!

  • Peggy Zuckerman

    As a patient lucky to be alive after a Stage IV diagnosis of kidney cancer–ten years ago–and a staunch advocate for all patients given all their treatment options, I am eager to use this new approach to cancer to expand treatment options.
    Any other patients/patient advocates in group? Looking always for the proper way to teach other patients how to ask for the proper tests and weigh the various treatments more objectively.

    • Jenny

      A reply to Peggy. Yes, I am a cancer survivor too. Congratulations on your surviving a difficult cancer – mine was only breast cancer and there are lots of us out there! I remember an affirmation from the Bristol Cancer Help Centre (now the Penny Brohn Centre) we used to sing “Every little cell be happy and well!!” but it’s also important to learn about the science and the different options too. I am a biochemist by training so I already know a little bit.

      • harry

        jenny so brave

  • Derek

    how are the discussions carried out?

    • The FutureLearn team

      Hi Derek, thanks for getting in touch. All conversations between learners take place around the course content. For instance learners can share their thoughts on articles, videos and other elements of the course, debating, offering different perspectives and asking questions of one another and the course leads. Learners can also use the social features built into the platform to ‘like’ other people’s comments and ‘follow’ other learners they find interesting. We hope that answers your question. Happy learning!

  • Claire

    I did an OU course a few years ago called Understanding Cancer – can’t wait to see how much I have forgotten!

  • Clare

    I am abroad on holiday for a few weeks during June and July – will this prevent me from being able to do the course?

    • The FutureLearn team

      Hi Clare, once you have registered for the course the course content will be open for you even after the course has finished. This means that you can learn at your own pace and if you miss a few weeks while on holiday, you can catch up when you return.
      We hope you enjoy the course.

  • Sylvia

    is there a coursework component?

    • The FutureLearn team

      Hi Sylvia, thanks for getting in touch.The course is comprised of short videos, articles and discussions. On top of that, you may have the opportunity to write short assignments which will be reviewed by your fellow learners. If you haven’t already, you can sign up here:
      Happy learning