University of Pittsburgh


Organ System Pathophysiology

Digestion & Nutrition

November 12, 2018-December 12, 2018
20 half days

Course Director
Michael Landau, MD
Assistant Professor
Department of Pathology

Course Director
Siobhan Proksell, MD
Assistant Professor
Department of Gastroenterology, Hepatology, and Nutrition

Course Director
Gavin Arteel, MD, FAASLD
Department of Gastroenterology, Hepatology, and Nutrition

Course Director
Kenneth W. Lee, MD
Associate Professor
Department of Surgery


Course Description

This course covers the normal function and pathophysiology of the several organs that comprise the gastrointestinal tract. Part one covers hollow organs, part two covers solid organs.

The goals of the course are:

  1. to learn the five organs that make up the gastrointestinal tract and their enervation, vascular supply and sequence of  activation during normal digestion.
  2. to understand the combination of physical and chemical events necessary for normal digestion and the physiologic regulation that coordinates these processes.
  3. to understand the structure and function of the enteric nervous system and the cellular mechanisms targeted by pharmacologic agents that act in this system.
  4. to understand the interplay between neural and hormonal regulation of digestion.
  5. to understand the role of the liver, gall bladder and pancreas in metabolic homeostasis.
  6. to learn the characteristics of common diseases of the gastrointestinal system, their clinical presentation, diagnostic methods, pathology, etiology and treatment.
  7. to understand the role of normal GI function in nutrition and some specific challenges posed by GI disease states.

A multidisciplinary team of 45 faculty, including basic scientists, clinical gastroenterologists, pediatric gastroenterologists, histologists, and pathologists, conduct the learning sessions in this course. Faculty are from 6 departments: Cell Biology and Physiology; Medicine (Divisions of Gastroenterology, Hepatology and Nutrition; and Clinical Pharmacology); Microbiology and Molecular Genetics; Pediatrics; Pharmacology; and Pharmacy and Therapeutics.

Educational Methods


Lectures Histology labs Small group workshops Review sessions
Online Problem-Based Learning sessions Online workshops for independent or group learning Online quizzes for self-study Online discussion of online and live learning



Evaluation for this course is based on two multiple-choice examinations and on PBL attendance and participation.

Grading: This course comprises 32% of the grade for the Organ Systems Pathophysiology Block, Section 3. Grading for the block is Satisfactory or Unsatisfactory.

Faculty Note

Patricia Eagon, PhD, and Bruce McClane, PhD, are recipients of the Kenneth E. Schuit Award Master Educator Award. In addition, Donald DeFranco, PhD; James McGee, MD; and Kenneth Lee, MD are members of the UPSOM Academy of Master Educators.