In the last 9 months, a number of patients have been referred by their GPs to the National Hospital for Neurology and Neurosurgery (NHNN), Queen Square, London

A rare and unidentified disease of the central nervous system

In the last 9 months, a number of patients have been referred by their GPs to the National Hospital for Neurology and Neurosurgery (NHNN), Queen Square, London. These patients presented with similar symptoms, which included dyssnergia, headaches, visual disturbance, dyslalia and apraxia. The neurologists agreed that these symptoms were not suggestive of any of the well-established neurodegenerative diseases. MRI and other neuroimaging diagnostic techniques confirmed the absence of tumours in the brain or spinal cord and absence of MS lesions. The suggestion that this could be a rare brain disease was welcomed. However, at a follow-up meeting, it was revealed by one of the neurologists that following various correspondences with the Office of Rare Disease Research, USA that these symptoms did not match any of the rare diseases in their database. Professor Max, one of the neuroscientists at the Institute of Neurology, which is affiliated to NHNN, suggested that since three of the patients have actually died and have donated their brains for research purposes that a scientific investigation on these brains needs to be conducted. The Institute Director agrees to fund this investigation. As one of the research assistants in Professor Max’s laboratory who has always shown the willingness and potential for a PhD studentship, you have been approached by Professor Max, who asks you to put together a research proposal aimed at determining the basic pathophysiological processes that may be involved, using different experimental approaches and techniques.  

Guideline for case report write-up:

  • This is a 1000 words (excluding references) assessed report based on PBL 3 “A rare and unidentified disease of the central nervous system“.
  • This case report will need to be written as an investigative research proposal.
  • Students are expected to formulate 2-4 hypotheses from the PBL scenario and to then devise experimental aims from hypotheses.
  • Students are initially expected to give brief background to the problem that has led to this investigation.
  • Students are then expected to provide details on hypothesis-derived experiments that will help address their experimental aims.
  • Fine details on each experiment needs to be included, for example details on experimental controls, concentrations, incubation periods will need to be given; along with strong and clear justifications.
  • These techniques can be adopted from published papers, where similar research questions have been addressed (avoid copy and paste).
  • Information on resources, equipment, facilities would also need to be included along with an approximate timeline.
  • Information on how results will be interpreted and presented will also need to be included, along with expected outcomes.
  • A rough time line for each experiment and the entire investigation will also need to be included.  
  • It would help to include section headings with descriptive titles for each experiment, rather than “Experiment 1”
  • A reference list needs to be included at the end, with all papers cited appropriately in the text.

Make sure all the criteria are met in the table below for attaining a 1st (70-100%)

– Also make sure you meet all the criteria in the mark scheme in the file titled “Mark Scheme for Case Report”

– Moreover, make sure you demonstrate skills 3-7 (at the bottom of this document) where applicable in the report

Below is the marking scheme that will be used:

 F 0 – 30F 30-393 40-492.2 50-592.1 60-691st 70-100
Evidence of** UnderstandingLittle or noLimitedVariableReasonableSoundExtensive                                        Original/creative
DepthInsufficient depthSuperficial,Mainly superficial, limited deeper explorationSome points explored deeplyMost points explored deeplyDeep exploration of all points    Critical analysis/                             evaluation
Development of argument/ analysis and evaluation  No analysis or evaluationMajority Descriptive. Limited analysis/ evaluationVariable analysis/ evaluationReasonable analysis/ evaluationSound analysis/ evaluationExtensive                       Critical/analytical/original                        
Evidence of wider readingNo evidenceLimited SomeNumerous examplesWide rangingExtensive                        Extends scope of work
Use of evidence to support statements/ ArgumentsNone usedLimited use of references to support argumentSome use of references to support argumentVariable use of references to support argumentReferences mostly well used to support argumentComprehensive Critical analysis/evaluation
Structure No clear structure –  cannot be followedLimited – difficult to follow throughoutSome – difficult to follow in partsSound  Reasonable – can mostly be followedLogical – can be followedLogical, well considered Well organised Easy to follow                                                     
ReferencingNo referencingReferencing incorrect . Lacking original research papersSome original research papers. Significant errors/omissionsOriginal research papers covered, missing some seminal work. Some errors and/or omissionsMajority of research papers covered Correctly cited with few errors/omissionsField well covered, all seminal research papers cited relevant to points made. References correctly cited   Professional standard
Illustrations and tablesAbsent/ irrelevantConfusing/ incorrect  Do not support work  Partially support workClarify workEnhance work/Extend scope of work
PresentationDoes not conform to guidelinesLimited conformity to guidelinesSome conformity to guidelinesVariable conformity to guidelinesMostly conforms to guidelinesFully conforms                        Extend scope of work to guidelines
Written communication (including grammar, spelling, sentence and paragraph construction)Many errors, text cannot be followedFrequent, major errors – text difficult to followFrequent errors – impairs readabilityOccasional errors – text mainly clearFew minor errors – text clearNo errors    Enhanced readability/comprehension
Final Mark                   

Marker:                                                                Date

Thinking skills

3. Critically evaluate and interpret scientific data from primary and secondary sources.

Subject-based practical skills

4. Demonstrate accuracy and precision in physiological and biochemical pharmacological experiments.

5. Manipulate, transform and analyse experimental data generated in the laboratory and in CBL packages and scientific papers.

Skills for life and work (general skills)

6. Developed, where required, a co-operative working practice.

7. Efficiently plan work, demonstrate good time management, and critically reflect on their practice, both as an individual and in a group context.

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