6 credits during the 1st year of 8452 Pharmacy (LM-13) GENOVA
GENOVA (Pharmacy)
1° Semester
Teaching materials


This course introduces the student to the cell main functions and mechanisms. The fundamental notions of the cell biology -from the inner cell organization up to the handling of the genetic information- will be discussed in order to present the cell as the living functional autonomous unit and to evidence its properties that are useful and mandatory to generate tissues and organs.



The students will learn how fundamental molecular mechanisms regulate the main cellular functions, starting with morphology and internal organization of the cell to end up with the processing of the genetic information and the generation of specialized cell types. The main aim is to clearly define the cell as an autonomous functional living unit as well as a component of a higher-grade hierarchical order in living tissues and organs. 


At the end of the course the student must retain: a) knowledge of the morphology of prokaryotic and eukaryotic cells; b) knowledge of the internal organelles of the cells, of their structure and functions, including the  molecular details; c) knowledge of the controls ruling cellular communications and signaling, gene expression and cell contacts; d) knowledge of DNA replication, and genetic inheritance, including the laws that rule those processes; e) knowledge of the cell cycle, both mitotic and meiotic. We expect that the student will be able to understand a deeper study of cell homeostasis and metabolism in the subsequent courses and that will be able to consider the cell as a functional unit suitable for therapeutic treatment.

Teaching methods

The course lasts 48 hours of front lessons, during which lesson items are presented through PowerPoint presentations; critical discussion and observations during lessons are encouraged. Non-textual material is available for the students on the AulaWeb site, through controlled access.


The course is essentially divided in six main themes. The first is dedicated to the Biological Macromolecules and it will present the essential characteristics of the most relevant biological molecules (water, lipids, carbohydrates and proteins) and of their chemical bonds, to elucidate their functions and to provide a proper basic knowledge for the comprehension of the remaining parts of the course. The second part –Cytology- will deal with the morphological organization of the prokaryotic and eukaryotic cells. Detailed anatomy and functions will be examined for the cell membrane (different membrane models, lipid composition, endo- and exocytosis functions, secretion pathways) and for the cell organelles (Golgi apparatus, smooth and rough endoplasmic reticulum, lysosomes, peroxisomes, mitochondria, nucleus, including chromatin structure and cytoskeletal organization). The third part – Cell interactions- will deal with cellular communications, including extracellular matrix proteins and their homophylic or heterophylic interactions. The entire fourth part is totally dedicated to Genomic Information and Expression (structure and characteristics of DNA and RNA, transcription, translation, regulation of gene expression, post-translational modifications of the proteins). The fifth subject is Cell Proliferation; cell cycle mechanisms and their regulations will be considered; apoptosis, cell transformation, mitosis, meiosis and a detailed description of gametogenesis will be subjects of regular lessons. Brief and general descriptions of embryo development and cell differentiation pathways, as well as their relevant control mechanisms, will also be presented. The last theme will deal with Genetics, introducing the biological effects and meaning of point, chromosomal and genomic mutations; Mendelian inheritance and laws will be presented, as well as heterochromosome-linked genetic diseases. 


The following list comprises the suggested textbook(s) for the course: 

Alberts et al. “L’essenziale di biologia molecolare della cellula”, Ed. Zanichelli

Becker et al.: “Il mondo della cellula”, Ed. Pearson

Karp et al.: “Biologia cellulare e molecolare”, Ed. EdiSES

Ginelli et al.: "Molecole, cellule e organismi", Ed. EdiSES

Alberts et al.  “Biologia molecolare della cellula”, Ed. Zanichelli


Ricevimento: Office hours for students are normally set on Thursdays from 09:00 to 11:00. The office address is: Biology Section, Dept. Experimental Medicine, Via Pastore 3 or Europa 30, second floor. E-mail appointments are strongly encouraged. The teacher's e mail address is the following: Alternatively the teacher can be reached at the following phone number: 01035338201.

Exam Board





Teaching methods

The course lasts 48 hours of front lessons, during which lesson items are presented through PowerPoint presentations; critical discussion and observations during lessons are encouraged. Non-textual material is available for the students on the AulaWeb site, through controlled access.


Location, date and timetable of the lessons will be provided by the competent office.


Exam description

The exam is comprised of a written test and of an oral part. The test includes 15 multiple-choice questions for the Animal Biology module, as well as 15 multiple-choice questions for the Vegetal Biology module, to be answered in a total of 30 minutes. Questions deals with any of the subjects presented and discussed during the regular lessons. Passing the written test is mandatory to gain access to the final oral examination. 

Assessment methods

The written test is considered passed if at least 9 answers out of 15, for each module, are correct.  Passing the written test allows access to the oral examination, during which the student will be asked to answer several questions to evaluate his/her specific competence on the subjects, language and terminology, and correlation capacities. Students are also encouraged to fill-in a self-evaluation module (not mandatory) before and after the written test, and subsequently encouraged to confront their putative results with the real score, in order to stimulate a correct perception of the level of competence in the subject in those students that repeat the written exam more than once.



Dates and timetable of the written/oral exams will be provided by the competent office. Students who do not pass the written test are NOT allowed to retry at the following available date if the exam session falls before 30 (thirty days) from the failed attempt.