University of Pittsburgh


Organ System Pathophysiology

MS-1 and MS-2

MS-1: January 21, 2014 - January 23, 2014
MS-2: August 12, 2013 - August 16, 2013

Donald B. DeFranco, PhD

Course Director
Donald B. DeFranco, PhD
Department of Pharmacology and Chemical Biology

Stevan P. Tofovic, MD, PhD

Course Director
Stevan P. Tofovic, MD, PhD
Assistant Professor
Department of Medicine

Course Description

This course covers the critical crossroads in medicine where the rational use of drugs dictates an understanding of physiology, disease processes and cellular function. Beginning with a concentrated introductory week at the beginning of year two, the material is then closely integrated into relevant pathophysiology courses throughout all segments of this block.

The goals of the course are:

  1. to introduce basic pharmacological principles, including mechanisms of action, dose-effect relationships, absorption, distribution, metabolism, elimination and toxicity.
  2. to present principles of drug action and administration that govern rational drug selection and usage including pharmacokinetics and pharmacodynamics, i.e., considerations in designing and adjusting a drug regimen.
  3. to explore the interactions of chemicals with biological systems.
  4. to teach drug effects on organ systems, drug development and drug usage as a continuum from laboratory to clinic.
  5. to develop attitudes of critical analysis, based upon sound scientific principles, so that the student will neither consider present therapeutic practices as final, immutable, nor commit themselves prematurely to new agents.
  6. to provide a background for therapeutic decision-making, including the important function of weighing possible risk against probable benefit.

Educational Methods


Lectures Conferences        
Question-and-answer sessions Practical problems        



Evaluation in this course is based on content questions incorporated into all Organ Systems Pathophysiology course examinations. These questions contribute to the OSP course performance and are also separately tracked for this course.

Grading: This course comprises 100% of the grade for the Organ Systems Pathophysiology Block, Section 4. The block section is graded Honors or Satisfactory.

Faculty Note

Course Director Donald DeFranco, PhD, is a recipient of the Provost’s Award for Excellence in Mentoring, the Sheldon Adler Award for Innovation in Medical Education, and the Excellence in Education Award for Lecturer. Course Director Stevan Tofovic, MD, PhD, is a recipient of the Sheldon Adler Award for Innovation in Medical Education. William DeGroat, PhD, is a recipient of the Kenneth E. Schuit Master Educator Award. In addition, Drs. DeFranco, Tofovic, and DeGroat; Joan Lakowski, PhD; William McIvor, MD; and Evan L. Waxman, MD, PhD, are members of the UPSOM Academy of Master Educators.