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CODE 111551
SEMESTER 1° Semester
Propedeuticità in uscita
Questo insegnamento è propedeutico per gli insegnamenti:
  • PHARMACY 11673 (coorte 2024/2025)


This course introduces the student to the cell main functions and mechanisms. The fundamental notions of 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, as well as to consider cells as the targets of pharmaceutical treatments to sustain or ameliorate human health.



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; they will also learn how and why molecular and cellular mechanisms may represent therapeutic targets. 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) comprehension of the controls ruling cellular communications and signaling, gene expression and cell contacts; d) comprehension of DNA replication, and genetic inheritance, including the laws that rule those processes; e) knowledge of the cell cycle, both mitotic and meiotic. The student must be able to compare and explain (why and how) different cellular mechanisms, cell organs or cell types respond to specific stimuli. Students are also required to use the appropriate scientific terminology. We expect that students will be able to deepen cell homeostasis and metabolism, in the subsequent courses, comprehending why and which molecular and cellular mechanisms can be interfered with, and that they will be able to consider the cell as a functional unit, suitable for pharmacological and therapeutic treatment to sustain or ameliorate human health.


To obtain a proper comprehension of the course items, basic competences in chemistry (inorganic and organic chemistry), physics and general biology are recommended –although not mandatory.


The course lasts s with specific  hours of front lessons, provided either in presence or on-line –through the informatics software platforms available in the University- during which lesson items are presented through PowerPoint presentations; critical discussion and observations during lessons are encouraged. In some lessons interactive teaching, by means of freely available web resources, will also be performed. Textual and non-textual material is available for the students on the AulaWeb site, through controlled access, as well as a simulation of the written text to trial students’ competence and learning.

Students with certified Specific Learning Disorders (DSA), with disabilities, or other educational needs are invited to contact the teacher and the Scool of Pharmacy representative teacher (Prof. Luca Raiteri; at the beginning of the course to agree upon specific individual  teaching/evaluation methods.

Any Student with documented Specific Learning Disorders (SLD), or with any special needs, shall reach out to the Lecturer(s) and to the dedicated SLD Representative in the Department ( Prof. Luca Raiteri, ) before class begins, in order to liaise and arrange the specific learning methods and ensure proper achievement of the learning aims and outcomes. VERY IMPORTANT: any request for compensatory tools and adaptations in the exam MUST be done within 10 working days before the date of the exam according to the instructions that can be found at


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) – all equivalent- 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




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

Class schedule

The timetable for this course is available here: Portale EasyAcademy



The exam consists of a written test and of an oral part. The test can be written or provided on-line through the Esami.Aulaweb platform.

Information related to the address site/building/room where the exam will be taken (independently from its written or on-line version) will be provided during the Introductory Lesson of the course (first lesson of the course for each Academic Year), in the Notes of the official exam enrollment site of the University (whenever feasible), in the proper esami2.aulaweb page of the course, and is normally reminded to the students through purposely dedicated announcements via the AulaWeb platform.

The written test includes 15 multiple-choice questions (including graphical and/or correlation questions); each question has a value of 2 (two) points, for a total amount of 30 (thirty available points); the test is to be answered in a total of 15 minutes. Questions deal with any of the subjects presented and discussed during the regular lessons. To pass the test, students are required to answer correctly to at least 9 answers (i.e. 9 correct answers for a total of at least 18 points). Passing the written test is mandatory to gain access to the oral examination, which consists of a direct interview with the teacher.


During the ongoing lessons students will face tests, based on a game-to-learn approach, on specific parts of the program. The aim of these tests is to evidence possible scarce knowledge/comprehension of such portions  and to render the students familiar with the types of questions of the written final examination; however scores will not contribute to the final evaluation.

In the formal exam session the student will have to pass the written part to evidence a retained overall knowledge of the subjects. Each test will include questions relating all the main items of the course. Passing the written test allows access to the oral examination, during which the student will be asked to answer several questions, of graded difficulty and complexity, 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; either in paper or electronic format, depending on the test itself) 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.


Tutor-driven training sessions are also encouraged, particularly for students that have attempted and failed the exam several times. Information relative to the tutoring sessions is normally provided during the initial lessons, but additional info can be provided also via the AulaWeb announcement system. The Teacher is also always available to trial students with training written tests before exam sessions, upon specific request.

Agenda 2030 - Sustainable Development Goals

Agenda 2030 - Sustainable Development Goals
Good health and well being
Good health and well being
Quality education
Quality education