Grade 11-12 Helix Courses

Below you will find the Grade 11-12 Helix courses offered for Summer 2017. Please go to Apply to Helix for more information on how to apply.

Courses are organized into thematic streams, allowing participants to focus on one area of inquiry for all four weeks. Students wishing a broader exposure to topics are free to pick different courses from any stream across the four weeks. These courses are designed for students who have completed Grade 11 or 12. There are no prerequisites for any course.

Date INTERACTIVE SYSTEMS MODELLING STREAM BIOMEDICAL SCIENCES STREAM BIOTECHNOLOGY STREAM
July 10-14 Infectious Diseases Modelling – FULL
Taught by Postdoctoral Visitor Dr. Alexandra Teslya
Techniques in Reproductive and Molecular Biology – FULL Biotechnology in Human Health and Disease
July 17-21 Bioinformatics: From Sequence to Function – FULL Cancer: The Cause and the Cure Bioinformatics: From Sequence to Function – FULL
July 24-28 Artificial Intelligence and MATLAB Geriatric Health Services – FULL Fundamentals of Neuroscience
July 31-Aug 4 Molecular Modelling – FULL Engaging in Cancer Research
Taught by Sessional Lecturer Dr. Sam Sul Gi Kim
Molecular Modelling – FULL

INTERACTIVE SYSTEMS MODELLING STREAM

Week 1 (July 10 to 14): Infectious Diseases Modelling

Description: History has shown that spread of an infectious disease in a population can have a devastating effect, leaving many fatalities in its wake. To control or eradicate an outbreak, it is important to understand pathogen spread mechanisms in a population. Mathematical disease modelling offers powerful and inexpensive tools to do so. This course will introduce basic concepts of compartmental infectious disease modelling and some of the relevant epidemiological factors. Students will learn how to calculate the basic reproductive number and estimate final size of the epidemic. We will consider various extensions of the basic Susceptible-Infected model that capture heterogeneity of the host population, seasonality, variations in the immune system status, and control strategies. Relevant mathematical concepts, such as differential equations, steady states, stability, and bifurcation dynamics will be introduced. Students will create MATLAB simulations that will be used to analyze transient and asymptotic predictions.

Instructors: Postdoctoral Visitor Dr. Alexandra Teslya

Week 2 (July 17 to 21): Bioinformatics: From Sequence to Function

Description: Bioinformatics is an interdisciplinary field that incorporates biology, computer science, and statistics, to study the complex world of cell signal processing. This course aims to provide students with an understanding and appreciation for genetics and its impact on disease and health through the usage of bioinformatics tools and techniques. Students will learn about the history and central dogma of genetics and critically analyze case studies of Mendelian diseases and the inheritance of sex-linked diseases. Students will also be given hands on experience in using bioinformatics tools, such as UCSC and ClustalX, to conduct research on genes of interest. There will be a primary focus on proteins and how expression of different proteins is linked to health disorders.

Instructors: Denis Adigamov and Ashby Kissoondoyal

Week 3 (July 24 to 28): Artificial Intelligence and MATLAB

Description: This course aims to introduce the basic programming skills of MATLAB, a powerful programming language in computational mathematics, and the basic concepts of machine learning, a type of artificial intelligence. MATLAB (matrix laboratory) is a multi-paradigm numerical computing environment and fourth-generation programming language commonly used in industrial engineering and research. It allows matrix manipulations, plotting of functions and data, implementation of algorithms, creation of user interfaces, and interfacing with programs written in other languages, including C, C++, C#, Java, Fortran and Python. This course will cover the basic knowledge and coding skills of MATLAB, and the basic concepts and example codes of implementing machine learning in MATLAB. No prior knowledge on advanced function or calculus is required. After this course, students will master the coding skills in MATLAB such as defining and manipulating vectors and matrices, array calculation, defining and callings functions, data preprocessing and exploration, data clustering, and basic machine learning methods (e.g. clustering, classification, regression) with pre-defined MATLAB algorithms.

Instructors: Stanley Liang

Week 4 (July 31 to August 4): Molecular Modelling

Description: Computer simulations of chemical reactions and calculations of chemical and physical properties of molecules play an important part in modern research, from the smallest inorganic molecules to biomolecules. Simulations allow scientists to design biologically functional and long-lasting drugs, in addition to making predictions on the properties of new materials. In this course, students will be introduced to the current methods of molecular modeling and will carry out their own simulations which they will later compare against real-world experimental results. Students will gain indispensable experimental skills for future careers in science through performing computational experiments and learning about writing scripts and analyzing their own data.

Instructor: Slava Orel

BIOMEDICAL SCIENCES STREAM

Week 1 (July 10 to 14): Techniques in Reproductive and Molecular Biology

Description: This course will explore the biology of reproduction in different organisms, focusing on zebrafish as its main research model organism. The use of zebrafish has become substantially popular in biological research as the molecular composition of zebrafish is close to that of humans. Students will learn to dissect zebrafish, with emphasis on using female reproductive organs for future experimentation. Students will learn to prepare ovarian cell cultures. The developmental progress zebrafish embryos will be examined. Students will learn to design, perform and statistically analyse experiments. Basic microscopy techniques will be taught, including setting up compound, dissecting and fluorescent microscopes. At the end of this course, students will be able to use molecular biology applications and critical data analysis in studying the biology of reproduction as well as in other biological research fields.

Instructor: Yara Zayed

Week 2 (July 17 to 21): Cancer: The Cause and the Cure

Description: Cancer has the second highest mortality rate among all causes of death worldwide. Statistics show that it affects one fourth of the population every year. This course will be focusing on factors and causes that may promote and induce cancer formation, as well as potential treatments and cures for cancer. Through learning advanced and up to date laboratory techniques, students will be able to understand the physiological changes that occur, on both cellular and molecular levels, during cancer development. Also, students will have a grasp on how to maintain a cultured mammalian cell line(s), and perform some functional assays. These hands-on experiments will be conducted using cancerous and non-cancerous cells. Through current literature and discussions, students will advance their critical thinking and scientific reasoning skills.

Instructor: Mohamed Salem

Week 3 (July 24 to 28): Geriatric Health Services

Description: Understanding issues in aging and geriatrics is of precedence in our current society with the rapidly aging population. Multiple factors in real-life scenarios have an impact on the health and quality of life of the geriatric community. In this course, students will work alongside community partners on projects targeting health and aging to evaluate potential solutions to improve the lives of older adults. By engaging in research, students will recognize complex bio-psycho-social determinants of the aging process and the interaction of disease, disability, and frailty with the ability for our community to cope with providing for seniors and their families. The effects of chronic health conditions and polypharmacy on aging will also be examined to understand the difficulties of self-management in old age. Together, this course aims to inspire and encourage students to recognize issues in aging and advocate change in their families, communities, and in their future careers in health care.

Instructor: Thrmiga Sathiyamoorthy

Week 4 (July 31 to August 4): Engaging in Cancer Research

Description: Taught by York University’s Dr. Sam Kim, Engaging in Cancer Research provides students with answers to some of the burning questions in cancer research. Have you ever wondered what it is like to be a molecular biologist that engages in cancer research? Are you interested in performing drug discovery experiments that no one else has ever performed? If you are passionate about biomedical science and wants to learn how medical research is conducted, this course offers comprehensive lectures and lab experiments to help students appreciate medical research. To allow students to better appreciate importance of cancer research, the course lectures will cover history of cancer research that described how scientist through different eras have made advancements. In addition key discoveries from the fields of genetics, molecular biology, and biochemistry will also be covered in the lectures, as well as the ideas and techniques behind experiments. This course also aims to promote creativity of students. Throughout the course, students will be given an option to formulate their own hypothesis and design parts of experiments to test their hypothesis. Furthermore, students will learn to conduct proper data analysis and interpretation to accept or reject their hypothesis. Lastly, students will be given an option to present their discovery with fellow students and discuss about the future direction of their research.

Instructor: Sessional Lecturer Dr. Sam Sul Gi Kim

BIOTECHNOLOGY STREAM

Week 1 (July 10 to 14): Biotechnology in Human Health and Disease

Description: Biotechnology involves the deliberate manipulation of biological systems to treat diseases, enhance crop production, process waste material, and create new diagnostic tests. The usage of biotechnology techniques and tools are fundamental to many fields of biomedical research, and involves the manufacturing of various drugs for usage in medicine, such as insulin and interferon. This course aims to provide fundamental concepts and practical applications involved in disease prognosis and treatment of human health. Students will get the opportunity to manipulate the genetics of an organism to express a gene of interest and see the resulting effects in cultured cells. Through hands-on laboratory experiments, students will learn about cloning and clone isolation techniques involving bacteria for usage in inoculation. Cell culture techniques, over-expression of proteins in cells, DNA extraction, and DNA purification will also be covered in the context of biomedical and biotechnological research. Overall, this course will provide students insight into biotechnology-based methods used by scientists in the field of human health and medicine.

Instructor: Uzma Nadeem

Week 2 (July 17 to 21): Bioinformatics: From Sequence to Function

Description: Bioinformatics is an interdisciplinary field that incorporates biology, computer science, and statistics, to study the complex world of cell signal processing. This course aims to provide students with an understanding and appreciation for genetics and its impact on disease and health through the usage of bioinformatics tools and techniques. Students will learn about the history and central dogma of genetics and critically analyze case studies of Mendelian diseases and the inheritance of sex-linked diseases. Students will also be given hands on experience in using bioinformatics tools, such as UCSC and ClustalX, to conduct research on genes of interest. There will be a primary focus on proteins and how expression of different proteins is linked to health disorders.

Instructors: Denis Adigamov and Ashby Kissoondoyal

 

Week 3 (July 24 to 28): Fundamentals of Neuroscience

Description: This course is designed to introduce students to the field of neuroscience and the future of neuroscience research, and is intended to provide an understanding of the most essential principles of neuroscience. The goal of this course is to give a strong foundational understanding of the human brain and the techniques utilized in recent research. Lectures and activities will cover neuroanatomy and the function of major brain regions, with a focus on the sensory and motor systems that are closely related to our daily activities. Students will also get the chance to visit the Neuroimaging Centre at York University, which is equipped with a Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) machine. MRI is a medical imaging technique which allows for the imaging of the brain, amongst other organs, and is a crucial investigative tool for medical diagnostics and neuroscience research. Students will also be able to experience the MRI process in the scanner as well as learn the basic MRI theory on-site.

Instructor: Bianca Baltaretu

Week 4 (July 31 to August 4): Molecular Modelling

Description: Computer simulations of chemical reactions and calculations of chemical and physical properties of molecules play an important part in modern research, from the smallest inorganic molecules to biomolecules. Simulations allow scientists to design biologically functional and long-lasting drugs, in addition to making predictions on the properties of new materials. In this course, students will be introduced to the current methods of molecular modeling and will carry out their own simulations which they will later compare against real-world experimental results. Students will gain indispensable experimental skills for future careers in science through performing computational experiments and learning about writing scripts and analyzing their own data.

Instructor: Slava Orel