First cycle
degree courses
Second cycle
degree courses
Single cycle
degree courses
School of Medicine
Course unit
FAM0013077, A.A. 2019/20

Information concerning the students who enrolled in A.Y. 2018/19

Information on the course unit
Degree course 5 years single cycle degree in
FA1733, Degree course structure A.Y. 2009/10, A.Y. 2019/20
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Number of ECTS credits allocated 8.0
Type of assessment Mark
Course unit English denomination PHYSIOLOGY
Department of reference Department of Pharmaceutical and Pharmacological Sciences
Mandatory attendance No
Language of instruction Italian
Single Course unit The Course unit can be attended under the option Single Course unit attendance
Optional Course unit The Course unit can be chosen as Optional Course unit

Teacher in charge STEFANO VASSANELLI BIO/09

ECTS: details
Type Scientific-Disciplinary Sector Credits allocated
Basic courses BIO/09 Physiology 8.0

Course unit organization
Period Second semester
Year 2nd Year
Teaching method frontal

Type of hours Credits Teaching
Hours of
Individual study
Lecture 8.0 64 136.0 No turn

Start of activities 02/03/2020
End of activities 12/06/2020
Show course schedule 2019/20 Reg.2009 course timetable

Examination board
Examination board not defined

Prerequisites: Prerequisite to easily follow the course of “Human Physiology” is the complete acquisition of the contents provided by the previous course of “Animal Biology and Human Anatomy”. Students are also required to attend the courses of “General Biochemistry” to get confidence with terminology and concepts of the major biochemical pathways.
Target skills and knowledge: In this course the students will discover that the central goal of physiology research is the elucidation of the mechanisms that maintain homeostasis, i.e. the relative constancy of the internal environment in front of remarkable changes in the external environment. Emphasis will be put on the fact that healthy subjects maintain many variables within narrow limits. Students will learn how the single parts of the body works, at the organ, tissue and cell level too, and how they operate concurrently and influence each other extensively. A special attention will be put on the molecular and cellular aspects that represent old and novel pharmacological targets. Students will thus learn how the progress of physiology cannot be separated by that of pathology and pharmacology.
Examination methods: The exam will be in the form either of written multiple-choice or oral. The student is allowed to choose among the two possible options.
Assessment criteria: The assessment is aimed at evaluating the ability of the students to:
-describe accurately and thoroughly different aspects of a physiological theme, from systemic to molecular levels, while
remaining focused on the proposed issue;
-understand the interrelationships between structure (anatomy) and function (physiology) and the role of drugs in physiological studies;
-solve quantitative problems and give short answers to specific issues;
-clearly communicate a scientific issue by using a professional
language (both written and oral);
-use multiple learning resources (printed and digital) for individual study and oral presentation.
Course unit contents: Syllabus:

Specific topics

Sec. I -Cellular physiology - The student will learn important physical and chemical principles of cellular physiology. And the properties of biological membranes that allow to distinguish the internal milieu fro the extracellular environment. Emphasis will be put on the capability of the cells to generate, transmit and receive signals. In particular the major pathways of signal transduction will be schematically shown, while their involvement in different functionalities will be exemplified in the following sections.
Sec. II -The nervous system - A substantial attention will be directed towards the comprehension of cellular excitability. Electrical and chemical signaling will be specifically analyzed in neuronal cells. The functional organization of the nervous system (motor, sensory and autonomous) will be simply addressed to facilitate the learning of the subsequent sections.
Sec. III - The muscle - The skeletal, cardiac and smooth muscle will be analyzed for their similarity and specificity, i.e. the basic mechanism of contraction and the different processes of excitation-contraction coupling.
Sec. IV - The cardiovascular system - The physiology of the cardiovascular system as a circuitry will be analyzed in its major components: the cardiac pump, the pacemaker and its control by intrinsic and extrinsic (nervous and endocrine) factors; the blood vessels and the determinants of arterial blood pressure; the control of peripheral circulation; the factors responsible for filtration and absorption across the capillary wall and the formation of lymph.
Sec. V - The respiratory system - The focus will be on the physical principles that allow gas exchanges between the alveoli and the blood and between this latter and the peripheral tissues. The mechanics of breathing and its control by neural and chemical factors will be schematically shown.
Sec. VI - The urinary system - The kidney will be presented in its capability to finely tune, independently one of the other, the two major components of the body: water and salts. Selected examples of filtration, secretion and re-adsorption of different compounds will be analyzed. Emphasis will be given to the central role of the kidney in the control of arterial blood pressure.
Sec. VII - The gastrointestinal system - It will be presented in its coordinated functions of motility, secretion and absorption. The liver and its function as well as the endocrine role of pancreas will be integrated with notions from the “Biochemistry” course. A special issue will be the integrated control of body mass.
Sec. VIII - The endocrine system - The student will have an overview of the various endocrine glands. It will be stressed how the endocrine system, similarly to the nervous one, integrates incoming stimuli and elaborates a full range of responses to changes occurring in the external and internal environment.
Planned learning activities and teaching methods: The course is made of 64 lessons (8 CFU). Slides with take-home messages are used during each didactic lecture. Figures are from a main textbook but also from additional texts, all properly acknowledged.
Textbooks (and optional supplementary readings)
  • Silverthorn D.U., Fisiologia Umana - un approccio integrato -. --: Pearson, 2010. V Edizione Cerca nel catalogo
  • Stanfield C.L., Fisiologia. --: EDISES, 2012. IV Edizione Cerca nel catalogo
  • Sherwood L., Fisiologia Umana. --: Zanichelli, 2008. I Edizione Cerca nel catalogo
  • Ganong, Fisiologia Medica. --: Piccin, --. XII Edizione Cerca nel catalogo
  • Klinke, Rainer; Gay, Rüdiger; Rothenburger, Astried; Baumann, Rosemarie, Fisiologiaa cura di Rainer Klinke ... [et al.]con il contributo di Rosemarie Baumann ... [et al.]illustrazioni di Rüdiger Gay e Astried Rothenburger. Napoli: EdiSES, 2012. Cerca nel catalogo
  • Ganong, William F.; Barrett, Kim E.; Midrio, Menotti, Fisiologia medica di GanongKim E. Barrett ... [et al.]. Padova: Piccin, 2011. Cerca nel catalogo