Eventually all scientists involved with organisms will have to discuss the topic of cell signalling, Dr Taufiq Rahman explains as we talk about the Pembroke-Kings Programme course that he has been involved in running for the past six years.
Knowing that, Dr Rahman seeks to use the eight weeks of the programme to provide a base of understanding for all the students in his lectures so that they might establish a firm understanding of what he considers to be the basics of the subject. For the first 11 weeks, Dr Rahman runs through the more common pathways, using the opportunity to ensure that his students are familiar in core signalling pathways before he uses, in lecture 12, a common illness as an example of what can happen if those signals can go awry. According to Dr Rahman, around 90% of illnesses can be blamed on the signals being corrupted in one way or another.
The goal of the course for Dr Rahman is threefold. The first is that all the students, no matter their backgrounds, come away with a firm understanding of cell signalling so that should they be required to study it or do research into it in the future, they will have the confidence to tackle the question. The second is to introduce students to the importance of communication between cells which hopefully will lead onto the third, which is to generate a continuing interest in the topic.
As Dr Rahman says, what he teaches is like the alphabet because:
“People can go away and use it to learn poetry and philosophy but you need to know the alphabet first.”