Bengt Kayser (Université de Lausanne)


From 13:30
to 15:00
From 13:30
to 15:00

Course description
In order to understand the impact of ongoing bio-medical and genetic research on the future of humankind, a minimum of knowledge, understanding and capability of applying these to the important ethical, legal, regulatory and philosophical questions raised by scientific progress is mandatory. This course, given by a medical doctor and exercise physiologist, will allow non-physicians with little or no background in (human) biology to acquire the elementary knowledge needed in order to be able to better form an opinion on several important contemporary questions. After defining life and its building blocks human biology and physiology are presented and studied. Then the gained knowledge and understanding is applied to practical examples in the form of vignettes. For example, the students will study how meat can be grown in fully in vitro conditions and then research whether this is a promising development for answering the need to feed the world's population in a sustainable development perspective. Also ethical aspects of such vignettes will be addressed, for example, what are arguments for and against such in vitro growing of meat starting off with human muscle cells (auto or homologous) as opposed to animal cells.

Learning outcomes
This course will allow the student to acquire a minimal base of understanding of human biology sufficient to better understand the challenges brought about by the rapid progress in biomedical knowledge in general and our understanding of genetics in specific.
After the completion of this course the student will be able to:
•describe the basic concepts underlying life.
•recall the macro-anatomic organization of the human body.
•explain the physiology of the main organ systems of the human body.
•apply this knowledge to questions relating to biomedical scientific progress.
•synthesize the outcome for a specific example in front of their class mates.

Teaching methods
Mix of lecture and class discussion. Lectures are introductory to set the stage. Vignettes and cases. Students write a final paper and present a case study in front of the class.

Evaluation methods
Active participation in class: 20%
Final paper: 50%
Final presentation in front of class: 30%

•Michael D. Johnson. Human Biology: Concepts and Current Issues, 8th Global Edition, Pearson, 2014. (selected chapters, complemented with readings)

Course program details:
Week 1 (Feb 22-26)
Introduction. Setting the stage with a problem: SARS-Cov2. What is life?
Prior reading:
Johnson chapter 1.

Week 2 (March 1-5)
The genetic code and its perpetual change.
Prior reading:
Johnson chapter 2.

Week 3 (March 8-12)
What's a virus? A bacterium? A parasite?
Prior reading:
Johnson chapter 9.

Week 4 (March 15-19)
What is a cell? What is an organ?
Prior reading:
Johnson chapters 3 and 4.

Week 5 (March 22-26)
Orchestrating the ensemble. The interaction between organs and systems.
Prior reading:
Johnson chapter 11.

Week 6 (March 29 - April 2)
Disease. Communicable and non-communicable disease.
Prior reading:

Week 7 (April 12-16)
Global challenges 1: health, disease, longevity and globalization.
Prior reading:

Week 8 (April 19-23)
Global challenges 1. The limits of human thermoregulation and global warming.
Prior reading:

Week 9 (April 26-30)
Global challenges 2. Human nutrition and the limits of global food production.
Prior reading:

Week 10 (May 3-7)
Global challenges 3. Humans and animal protein intake. Towards in vitro production of meat?
Prior reading:

Week 11 (May 10-14)
Global challenges 4. Humans and water needs. The limits of global drinking water provision.
Prior reading:

Week 12 (May 17-21)
Wrap up. Summary. Evaluation. Preparation of final student presentations.


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phone: +39 041 2719511
fax:+39 041 2719510

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