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Physiology, Basic Concepts


Admission requirements

General knowledge of the English language, biology, mathematics, physics, and chemistry as required for students to be accepted for Biomedical Sciences.


Period: November 09 – December 18, 2015

The course Physiology, Basic Concepts, consists of five themes.

Theme 1. Cardiovascular System (dr. Steendijk)

  • Anatomy of the heart

  • Cardiac electrophysiology

  • Contraction mechanisms

  • Excitation-contraction coupling

  • Vascular anatomy and function

  • Cardiac function

  • Cardiovascular interaction

  • Neurohormonal control

  • Exercise and heart failure

  • Patient demonstration

  • Practical Cardiovascular anatomy

  • Working group Cardiovascular function

Theme 2. Respiratory System (dr. Teppema)

  • Anatomy of the lungs

  • Gas transport in the lungs and in blood

  • Ventilation-perfusion ratio

  • Control of breathing

  • Practical Lung anatomy

  • Working group Control of breathing

Theme 3. Kidneys (dr. Gaasbeek)

  • Anatomy of the kidneys

  • Assessment of renal clearance and blood flow

  • Regulation of glomular filtration rate and renal blood flow

  • Tubular transport systems and functions with focus on sodium, chloride, water, urea and glucose

  • Countercurrent multiplication, urine dilution an concentration

  • Practical Kidney anatomy

  • Working group Urine dilution/concentration

Theme 4. Homeostasis

  • Interactions between vital organ systems

  • Acid-base regulation

  • Osmolality and volume regulation

  • Working group Homeostasis

Course objectives

After having followed this course, the student can:

  • describe and define the structure and functions of the cardiovascular system, the respiratory system and the kidneys;

  • relate the functions of these organs/organ-systems to the specific anatomical, mechanical and (with regard to the heart) electrical properties;

  • describe the role of these organ system in homeostasis of the organism

  • illustrate by clinical examples how several pathophysiologic conditions of these organs/organ-systems can be viewed from basic physiological principles.

Mode of instruction

Plenary lectures, interactive seminars, patient demonstrations, practicals, working groups, e-learning, rehearsal exams.

Assessment method

Multiple choice exam, taken in three sessions. Partial exam 1: Cardiovascular System (10%); Partial exam 2: Respiratory System (10%), Final exam: All topics (80%).

Reading list

  • Moore KL: Clinically oriented anatomy (6th edition)

  • Ross MH: Histology (6th edition)

  • Boron WF: Medical Physiology (2nd updated edition)

  • Levick JR: Cardiovascular Physiology (5th edition)

  • West JB: Respiratory Physiology, The essentials (9th edition)

  • Koeppen BM , Stanton BA: Renal Physiology (5th edition 2015)

Information for exchange students

This module is part of an English taught semester of the bachelor’s programme in Biomedical Sciences at Leiden University Medical Center. Combining biomedical modules with modules from other programmes in Leiden is difficult or impossible due to different scheduling schemes. Exchange students with sufficient relevant background knowledge in biology/biomedicine are therefore encouraged and advised to choose the entire module package indicated below.

  • Immunology (BW), 8 EC

  • Pathogen-Host Interactions part 2, 3 EC

  • Infection and Immunity in Practice, 3 EC

  • Physiology, Basic Concepts, 8 EC

  • Communication in Science for Exchange students, 1 EC