Medical biology is a traditional part of the study programs of General Medicine and Dentistry. The classes cover two semesters. The contents of the first semester is cell biology; we try to introduce the cell as the basic element of life. At the same time, we emphasize the dynamic aspect of the cell’s life and the interactions of individual cell structures and compartments involved in basic cell functions. The students have the opportunity to become acquainted with microscopic techniques which enable a long-term observation of living cells, such as phase-contrast microscopy, time-lapse video microscopy, and fluorescent microscopy using color fluorescent proteins. Another important teaching topic is the use of cells grown in vitro as a biological model for research as well as for testing cytotoxicity. The second semester is devoted to the basics of molecular biology, medical genetics, and the genetics of tumors. The students isolate DNA, carry out gel electrophoresis of nucleotide acids, and prepare karyotypes during the practical seminars. Other student activities are focused on practicing the basics of Mendel genetics, including analysis of pedigrees, and on using molecular methods for diagnosing hereditary diseases and for identifying people. In addition, during the course, students have to prepare their own presentation concerning the latest discoveries in the field of biomedicine. The follow-up of the mandatory subject Medical Biology is the elective subject Clinical Applications of Molecular Biology.
Since the 1960s, the basic research focus of the department has been the same: the study of the dynamics of basic cell processes. We have always employed phase contrast microscopy in connection with time-lapse microcinematography for observing cell dynamics. In this respect, our department has always been a pioneer within the whole of Europe. Currently, a dynamic time-lapse cytometry is still our basic experimental approach. !e knowledge from dynamic cytology is used for the study of biological characteristics of chosen groups of substances, namely drugs and food supplements. !e focus of this area of toxicology in vitro was both linked with the research of biological mechanisms of the studied entities and also with another much wider area of study – the effort to introduce so-called alternatives to experiments on laboratory animals. Our department has been at the forefront of this field of research in the Czech Republic, which is reflected in our close cooperation with similar European centers for alternative methods such as FRAME, ZEBET, ECVAM.
One of the first in the Czech Republic
In 1994 the department became one of the first in the Czech Republic to participate in the prestigious Joint European project. !e project was coordinated by Professor Cervinka. !e other participants were top departments and institutions from Germany and Great Britain. Our department also succeeded as one of the few institutions in the Czech Republic in gaining accreditation from the Czech Accrediting Institute for the Evaluation of Cytotoxicity and Genotoxicity for Legislative Purposes.