As the Life Sciences have assumed an increasingly prominent position in Singapore and the world, the Department of Physiology in the Faculty of Medicine has taken a leadership role in providing students with education and training through the University's Undergraduate Life Sciences Curriculum. The Life Sciences Curriculum focuses on three areas of concentration: Biomedical Science, Molecular and Cell Biology, and Biology. The Department of Physiology is heavily involved in the areas of Biomedical Science (BMS) and Molecular and Cell Biology (MCB). Graduates in these areas of study are well prepared to participate in the imminent expansion of Life Science-related research, teaching and innovation.
The department anchors several modules tailored to foster creative and critical scientific thinking in our students. These modules are:
1. LSM3212 Human Physiology: Cardiopulmonary System
2. LSM3213 Molecular and Cellular Neurobiology
3. LSM3214 Human Physiology - Hormones & Health
This module covers several human physiological systems using hormonal control of homeostasis as a basis for understanding normal function and health. The student will be able to appreciate the interactions occurring amongst the endocrine, digestive, renal, and reproductive systems, and be able to relate them to the body’s biological rhythms (or clocks), growth, responses to stress, and reproductive processes. Major Topics Covered: endocrine system, central endocrine glands, peripheral endocrine glands, digestive system, digestive processes, energy balance, urinary system, fluid processing, fluid balance, reproductive system, male reproductive physiology, female reproductive physiology.
4. LSM3215 Neuronal Signalling and Memory Mechanisms
This module will provide fundamental knowledge about how neuronal signaling and its higher functions, such as encoding and retrieval of memory, occur in our brain. Learning and memory mechanisms are conserved in all organisms. This module covers topics including the ionic basis of resting and action potentials, molecular biology of ion and TRP channels, ion channelopathies, and the auditory system. It also focuses on neurotransmission with particular emphasis on the glutamate receptors and neuropharmacology. In addition it touches the cellular and molecular basis of learning and memory, and energy utilization in the brain.
5. LSM3216 - Neuronal development and diseases
This module will focus on key events that take place in different stages of vertebrate nervous system development including neural induction, neurogenesis, glial biology, neuronal growth and polarity, axonal guidance, synapse formation, and regeneration. Pathological states such as muscular dystrophy, spinal cord injury, Parkinson’s disease, and other neurodegenerative diseases will be studied, both in terms of understanding the deficits as well as examining potential solutions to improve the outcomes of these neuronal diseases. Latest findings will be discussed, allowing students to learn the current state of research in developmental neurobiology.
6. LSM3217 Human Ageing
This module is designed to introduce 3rd year life sciences students to human ageing theories, molecular basis of ageing, system level effects of ageing, ageing related diseases, and interventions that increase longevity.
Major topics to be covered in the first half include biology of ageing theories (Oxidative stress, Genetic, Autoimmune and Neuroendocrine), with an emphasis on molecular pathways such as telomere shortening, mitochondrial and ER stress, sirtuins and mTOR and autophagy. The second half of lectures include ageing brain, heart and related diseases, health implications for the individual and interventions that increases longevity such as hormesis, dietary restriction, resveratrol, rapamycin and growth hormones.
7. LSM4213 System Neurobiology
The primary goal of this module is to understand how
This course draws on basic knowledge of the cell biology and physiology of neurons.
8. LSM4215 Extreme Physiology
This module describes how the human body responds to exposure and exercise in environmental extremes such as hypoxic and hyperbaric conditions, thermal stressors, microgravity and trauma. Latest research findings, including some of the controversial topics, will be presented and discussed. Students will understand what the physiological changes are under extreme conditions and how acute and chronic adaptations occur in response to these stresses. This will allow students to appreciate how the human body adapts to changing environments.
9. LSM4232 Advanced Cell Biology
This module will explore the changes that occur in animal cells as they grow, mature, differentiate, and either senesce or renew themselves. Insights into the mechanisms that govern how and when particular developmental alterations occur will be discussed. Emphasis will be placed on understanding the cellular molecular mechanisms that lend themselves to experimental manipulation.
10. LSM4243 Tumour Biology
This module deals with the understanding of processes that regulate cell growth and proliferation, and the intricate mechanism(s) that result in abnormal proliferation and oncogenesis. Molecular basis of immortalisation and the acquisition of the neoplastic phenotype, namely oncogene activation, immune evasion, potential for local and distant spread, and resistance to cell death etc. will be discussed. Role of DNA damage/repair, telomere/telomerase in genome instability and tumourigenesis will be examined. A brief session on target therapies including gene therapy approaches will also be included. Tumour immunology role of inflammation in tumours will be discussed.
11. GEH1063 - Understanding Body, Mind and Culture through Sports
In the contemporary society, sports are closely linked to larger issues such as health, fitness, physical appearance, money, politics, and cultural values. This module draws on physical, psychological and sociocultural knowledge and complements it with required practical and experiential learning to provide students with a grounded appreciation of sports and related issues.The module discusses basic principles in sports physiology and nutrition for the promotion of physical and mental resilience/well-being. It also seeks to address issues related to the development of sporting culture and policies in Singapore.
In addition, the module confronts controversial issues pertaining to the use of substances to improve performance and motivation to attain the desired body image. Finally, the module provides an evidence-based platform for the evaluation of contemporary sporting technology and aids, encouraging critical analysis and differentiation of commercially-driven gimmicks from truly efficacious sporting products.
A new medical curriculum was implemented for the academic year 1999-2000. A hybrid of our traditional system with a more problem-based learning one, the new curriculum has been streamlined to reduce factual overload and emphasizes the relevance of the biological sciences to subsequent clinical practice. A more integrated and systems-based approach has been designed to discourage compartmentalized thinking and to stress problem-solving abilities.
The teaching of Physiology is integrated into the Systems Biology track where the functional aspects of the various organ and physiological systems are integrated with structure (Anatomy: Structure & Development track) and molecular and cellular mechanisms (Biochemistry: Cell Biology track). The traditional lecture-tutorial format will be supplemented by problem-based learning. In the series of lectures for each system, the first lecture provides an overview of the system and its relevance to Clinical Medicine. The last lecture of the system series, after all the basic concepts have been taught, discusses disordered physiology and how basic knowledge is applied to clinical situations. This format provides the students a relevance, and hopefully a motivation, of studying basic science. The tutorials focus on the basic concepts of each system and use disorder physiology to emphasize important points and to provide a clearer understanding of the main concepts. A number of case studies are used to illustrate the connection between basic physiology and clinical application.
In problem-based learning, a patient or basic science problem is used as a trigger and context for students to learn problem-solving skills and to acquire knowledge of basic and clinical sciences through self-directed learning. The teacher functions as a facilitator and students are encouraged to make use of various resources (for example: Internet, Medical Library and AVA resources) available to them to solve the problem. The process also provides a way for improving their communication skills, collaboration and teamwork skills as well as develop a well-structured knowledge base, linking new concepts with existing knowledge.
1. MD1140 Normal Structure and Function
The Blood, Respiratory and Cardiovascular Systems module deals with the principles of normal structure and function of these systems. Students are expected to apply these principles to explain the basis of clinical assessments of these systems and the pathophysiological basis of common diseases including anaemia, bleeding disorders, obstructive and restrictive lung diseases, hypertension, ischemic heart disease, cardiac failure and common valvular defects and rhythm disturbances of the heart.
The Renal, Fluid and Electrolyte Systems module covers the basic and applied physiological principles underlying these systems, with an emphasis on integration with Cardiovascular, Endocrine, Gastrointestinal and Respiratory Physiology.
The Gastrointestinal, Nutrition and Metabolism Systems module takes the students from non- Pathological to pathological conditions in parallel with progressive teaching of normal to abnormal function and structure. Students will learn to apply functional anatomy, biochemistry and physiology to explain the pathophysiology of common gastrointestinal symptoms and nutritional disorders.
The Endocrine and Reproduction Systems module will deal with the normal physiology of the endocrine system as well as the common diseases affecting the endocrine glands: the hypothalamus/pituitary, the thyroid, the parathyroid, the endocrine pancreas, the adrenal cortex and adrenal medulla. In addition, it will also cover metabolic disorders such as hyperlipidemias, obesity, and osteoporosis.
Physiology is the study of biological processes pertaining to life. The Department of Physiology offers modules that focus on human physiology and explore the function of the human body at the organ, cellular and molecular levels. This will cover the basic physiology of major systems in the body. Dental, Pharmacy and Bioengineering students will attend the same lectures and tutorials. The tutorial classes are conducted separately for the three different groups of students. They focus on the basic concepts of each system and use disorder physiology to emphasize important points and to provide a clearer understanding of the main concepts.
In Semester 1, the systems covered will be Nerve and Muscle, Blood, Cardiovascular Physiology and Respiratory Physiology. In Semester 2, the systems covered will be Gastrointestinal Physiology, Renal Physiology, Endocrinology & Reproduction and Neurophysiology.
1. MD1130A Physiology
2. AY1130 Human Anatomy & Physiology I
The syllabus for the Physiology I course includes largely core material on Human Physiology with reference to relevant clinical examples. Topics for the module include:
3. PY1131 Human Anatomy & Physiology II
The syllabus for the Physiology II course includes largely core material on Human Physiology with reference to relevant clinical examples. Topics for the module include:
MDG5207 Advanced Topics in Cellular and Translational Immunology
The aim of this module is to provide graduate students with the basis of cellular and translational immunology that leads to many of the diseases mediated by the immune system. Of particular, focus will be on diseases of allergy, autoimmunity, primary immunodeficienciey, transplant immunology, together with immuno-pharmacology, and infection & immunity. The immune system displays both enormous diversity and extraordinary specificity; not only is it able to recognize many millions of distinctive nonself molecules, it can produce molecules and cells to match up with and counteract each one of them. And it has at its command a sophisticated array of weapons. The success of this system in defending the body relies on an incredibly elaborate and dynamic regulatory-communications network. Many of the recent advances in immune responses and innate immunity also provide insights into how simple immune dysregulation can lead to fundamental changes in the regulation of immune function leading to pathology like autoimmune and allergic diseases.
MDG5223 STEM CELLS AND REGENERATIVE MEDICINE
This module is designed to introduce students to stem cell biology, their origins, properties, function in tissue repair/regeneration, and utility in therapy. Major topics are:
MDG5224 ANIMAL MODELS OF HUMAN DISEASES
This 2MC module is designed to introduce students to commonly-used animal replica of key human diseases including cancer, infectious, cardiovascular, neurological and immune disorders. Major topics to be covered include nonmammalian models as well as rodent and non-human primate models of human diseases, with an emphasis of mammalian disease models. The final lecture will be conducted by a representative from the Pharmaceutical industry (e.g. GSK-Singapore) on how animal disease models are used in drug discovery.
MDG5229 ADVANCED TOPICS IN SIGNAL TRANSDUCTION
This module is designated to introduce our graduate students the cutting-edge knowledge of the key signal transduction pathways in cell biology and their implications in health and disease. The main topics include PI3K-MTOR pathways, MAPK pathways, tyrosine kinase pathways, GPCR, small GTPase, TNF signalling pathways, NF-kB pathways, Jak-STAT pathways, TGFb-Smad pathways, Hippo signaling, Hedgehog signalling, AMPK signaling, ubiquitination and protein degradation, to be taught by leading experts in the field, via lectures and tutorials.
At the end of the module, the students will have a systematic understanding of the major signalling pathways with important biological functions related to health and disease. Via both lectures and tutorials, the students will not only gain the knowledge, also develop skills in critical analysis and understanding of controversies, challenges and future developments of the relevant fields.