PSL1048H - Translational Physiology: From Molecules to Model Systems to the Clinic

Course Coordinator: 



Through published examples, students will be exposed to:

  • identifying molecules (e.g., genome-wide human screens, discovering mutated genes)

  • designing/applying cell-based studies (e.g., selecting/creating appropriate cell-based assays, high-throughput screening)

  • selecting/creating appropriate models at the organ or animal level

  • obtaining ‘proof-in-principle’ data

  • proceeding to clinical trials

Additional aims of the course are to augment: 

  • oral and visual presentation skills

  • skills in both leading and participating in group discussions

  • critical and analytical thinking

  • awareness of translational medicine resources, including journals, local seminars, centres and consortia

Each session will strive to include some controversy. For example, the presented papers might reflect differing views on: the molecule underlying a disorder, the cellular or animal models used, or the interpretation of genomic studies.

Examples of possible topics and fields represented:

  • Neurophysiology: Assessing the potential for targeting inflammatory molecules to treat stroke.

  • Epithelial physiology: Identifying molecular targets for Cystic Fibrosis therapy.

  • Gastrointestinal physiology: Identifying dysregulated membrane fusion/exocytosis as an underlying mechanism of pancreatitis.

  • Integrative physiology: Discovery and structure-function analysis of inhibitors of receptor tyrosine kinases as potential cancer treatments.


An introductory session will be followed by 12 classes (1/wk) of 2–2.5 hours each, comprising student-led seminars and panel discussions.

Each faculty member will organize three sessions, provide references to key papers at least 3 weeks before the class, and will contribute when necessary to ensure that an overview of the issues has been presented by the end of the class. Other faculty members will be invited to attend.

Each class will be led by 2 oral ‘presenters’ and 2 panel ‘discussants’. ‘Presenters’ will meet briefly with the faculty member the week before to discuss their plans for presentation. At each class, the 2 oral presenters will give a brief introduction to the topic and then explain the assigned papers (~30 min each). The 2 discussants will make informed comments, ask prepared questions, and engage the other class members in a more general discussion of the topic, controversies, issues, etc. All students are expected to actively participate in the discussions.


a) Oral presentations: 50%
b) Written reports: 40%
c) Class participation: 10%




A minimum enrollment of 8 students is required.