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Academic year 2017/2018

Course ID
Prof. Luca Munaron
Degree course
Cellular and Molecular Biology
1st year
Teaching period
First semester
Course disciplinary sector (SSD)
BIO/09 - fisiologia
Formal authority
Lessons optional and laboratories mandatory
Type of examination
Written and oral (optional)
A good knowledge of basic Cell Biology (Biologia Cellulare) and General Physiology (Fisiologia Generale).

Sommario del corso


Course objectives

This is a 6 ECTF course aimed to provide theoretical, technical and methodological background to critically investigate cell functions.
Students learn to address issues related to the functional biology of the cell. Particular attention will be focused on live cell imaging techniques as experimental tools to investigate physiological processes in time and space at different biological scales (from intracellular to multicellular). For each item, students learn how to highlight the specific scientific question, to interpret data, to discuss the experimental approaches employed by the authors.The main objective is to develop the ability to critically analyze and interpret the results of the related scientific literature. 


Results of learning outcomes


  • Extending and applying knowledge of cell physiology to new contexts
  • Re-analysing information
  • Selecting robust information from a variety of sources
  • Making reasoned predictions and generalisations from experimental evidence and theoretical information
  • Drawing valid conclusions and giving explanations supported by evidence/justification
  • Drawing on knowledge and understanding of cell physiology to make accurate statements, describe complex information, provide detailed explanations and integrate knowledge
  • Critically evaluating scientific publications and media reports
  • Discussing the strenght and limitations of the results published on research papers, eventually identifying sources of errors and biases
  • Communicating cell physiology findings and concepts fully, appropriately and using a variety of different modalities 

Course delivery

Lectures and tutorials 

Students will be assigned specific readings and online activities and will prepare a multidisciplinary research assay (optional). 

  • Lectures : Attention is given to focused scientific questions, starting from the knowledge provided by the scientific literature.  Experimental approaches, results and conclusions are deeply analysed. 
  • Research assay tutorial: discussion sessions in which students will draw different integrative experimental designs to address functional problems concerning protein diffusion, protein-protein interaction, spatio-temporal dynamics of intracellular messengers.
  • Additional exercises and tests will be provided online on the Moodle platform.

Learning assessment methods

Examinations will be based on material covered in lectures, assigned readings, online and on site activities.

Midterm Multidisciplinary Test (MMT, optional) – This test will be in common with the courses of  Advanced  Cell Biology and Biotechnology, and Virology. It will be a Moodle-based test of 30 questions (10 for each course): 27 with a variety of formats (multiple choice, true/false, filling in checklists) and three open questions. The optional midterm Multidisciplinary test will give rise to additional points to the final grade of final exam of each of the three courses, provided this will be passed in the first session (January-February 2016). Correspondence between Midterm Multidisciplinary Test vote and additional points for final exams is as follows: 22-23/32, 0.5 points; 24-25/32, 1 points; 26-27/32, 1.5 points; 28-30/32, 2 points. 

Multidisciplinary Research Essay (MRE, optional) – This at-home assignment will be in common with the courses of Advanced Cell Biology and Biotechnology, Cell Physiology, and Virology, and will refer to methodologies and technical approaches relevant to the three courses. The essay (up to 2000 characters + figures, tables and references) will be prepared by groups of normally three students and presented oraly by the end of the semester. The optional Multidisciplinary Research Essay will give rise to additional points to the final grade of final exam of each of the three courses, provided this will be passed in the first exam session (January-February 2016). Correspondence between vote to the Multidisciplinary Research Essay and additional points for final exams is as follows: 22-23, 0.5 points; 24-25, 1 points; 26-27, 1.5 points; 28-30, 2 points. 

Final exam – This exam will be a Moodle-based test of 20-30 questions in different formats : open question, multiple choice quizzes, true/false, short answers, open-ended questions; interpretation of experimental data and resolution of exercises . The maximum grade will be 33/30. Grading 31-33 will give rise to “ 30 cum laude”. Any additional points obtained by MMT and MRE will be added to the final exam of the first exam session (January-February 2017). 

Upon student’s request, an integrative final interview can be taken (written/oral: 3/1).

Academic conduct: The penality for course-related dishonesty (ei. cheating on exams, plagism, etc) will be failure for the entire course.


Support activities

Weekly homework sets will be assigned, and their solution will be posted and (if time allows) discussed in class.




The main objective of the course is to convey to the students the ability to

  1. critically analyze scientific papers on cell physiology topics;
  2. design integrative experimental protocols to address functional questions, taking into account the strengths and limitations of the different approaches.


  • Cell as a complex system
  • Structure-function redundancy
  • Diffusional processes
  • Membrane transports
  • Live fluorescence microscopy approaches to investigate intracellular signaling
  • Spatio-temporal features of calcium signaling
  • Molecular basis of sensory physiology
  • Multiscale bio-modeling 

Suggested readings and bibliography


Lessons, selected papers and websites are available on Moodle.

For some topics selected textbooks available at DBIOS library.


Class schedule

Notes: See the timetable at the Class Schedule Page

Last update: 05/07/2017 08:38
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