PSL1014H - Advanced Topics: The Gastrointestinal Epithelium

Course Coordinator:

P. Brubaker


The gastrointestinal epithelium is a complex biological system that comprises the largest organ in the body. Originating from stem cells in the crypts, the epithelial cells differentiate and migrate to form the crypt-villus unit which carries out the unique digestive, absorptive, secretory, endocrine, barrier and immune functions of the gut, as well as interactions with the gut microbiota. Consistent with the large number of physiological roles of the gut, diseases of the gastrointestinal epithelium are commonly associated with morbidity.


This seminar-style, graduate-only course will consider the various functions of the gastrointestinal epithelium through student presentations and class discussion of selected recent publications from the literature, as well as through manuscript and grant reviews. There will be no didactic lectures. To encourage active discussion, the class size will be limited to 14 students (minimum 6 students) from any graduate department at the University of Toronto. 

Depending on faculty availability course topics will include the following:
General course topics:
Topic 1: Intestinal Growth
- Stem cells
- Signaling
- Growth factors
Topic 2: Gut microbiome in health and disease
- Who is there?
- What are they doing?
Topic 3: Gut inflammation
- Immunity and microbiota
- Enteric infection
Topic 4: The Gut Endocrine System
- Cells
- Hormones
Topic 5: Gastrointestinal Cancers


No pre-requisite courses are required, but a good working knowledge of gastrointestinal tract function will be an asset.


  • a) Oral presentations of papers from the literature (35%)
    b) Mini-assignment (10%)
    c) Participation (15%)
    d) Grant review (40%)

Course rules and regulations:

Late submissions without approved U of T medical documentation will be subject to a 10% reduction in total possible score per 24 hr. U of T rules and regulations regarding plagiarism and student conduct will be applied throughout the course.

Course Faculty :

  • Dr. Patricia Brubaker (

  • Dr. Nicola Jones (

  • Dr. Tae-Hee Kim (

  • Dr. Dana Philpott (

Maximum Students: 16

Last updated: 22-OCT-2019