Red X iconGreen tick iconYellow tick icon


    The cellular and molecular basis of the mechanisms and regulation of epithelial transport and the effect of representative diseases on these processes.

    Epithelia form remarkable barrier structures that regulate the entry and exit of substances into and out of the body. Control of these transport processes needs to be exquisite to avoid severe pathophysiology. Lecture modules will be based around pressing physiological problems, such as: How does too little chloride secretion cause cystic fibrosis? How does too much sodium uptake cause high blood pressure? How does gout develop, and what are the molecular mechanisms and pathways to the treatment of gout or the development of diseases such as type 2 diabetes mellitus and cancer due to hyperuricemia? Understanding the abnormalities at the genetic, cell, and tissue level is an essential prelude to the development of effective treatments for all population groups including Māori and Pacific peoples.

    Cell biology and physiology of diseases such as cystic fibrosis, Liddle's Syndrome, Nephrogenic Diabetes Insipidus, Type 2 Diabetes mellitus, Chronic Kidney Disease, gout, and epithelial cancers will be discussed.

    About this paper

    Paper title Cellular and Epithelial Physiology
    Subject Physiology
    EFTS 0.15
    Points 18 points
    Teaching period Semester 2 (On campus)
    Domestic Tuition Fees ( NZD ) $1,173.30
    International Tuition Fees Tuition Fees for international students are elsewhere on this website.
    PHSL 233
    Schedule C

    One of five 300-level papers for Physiology majors.
    One of PHSL343 or PHSL344 is essential for Functional Human Biology majors from 2024.
    Optional paper for Drugs and Human Health, Infection and Immunity, Molecular Basis of Health and Disease, and Nutrition and Metabolism in Human Health majors.


    Teaching staff

    Convener: Professor Fiona McDonald

    Lecturers: Professor Fiona McDonald

    Dr Andrew Bahn

    Dr Megan Leask

    Please note: Teaching staff maybe subject to change.

    Paper Structure

    The paper will be taught as several modules, each including both lecture and laboratory sessions. Lecture topics include:

    • Recent advances in our understanding of the cellular and molecular basis of absorption and secretion of fluid and electrolytes by epithelia
    • Cell biology and physiology of diseases such as cystic fibrosis, Liddle's Syndrome, Nephrogenic Diabetes Insipidus, gout, chronic kidney disease and epithelial cancers.

    In the laboratory course you will design, perform, interpret and present your own experiment in a guided process over the entire semester.

    Assessment consists of internal assessment (including the presentation of a research poster and a written research proposal) and a 3-hour final exam. A mark of at least 45% in the final exam must be attained to pass the paper as a whole.

    For further detail please refer to the undergraduate handbooks BSc PHSL or BBiomedSc FUHB, available to download.

    Teaching Arrangements

    You will attend two lectures each week and two 4-hour laboratory sessions every second week (alternating with PHSL 344).


    Original research articles.

    Graduate Attributes Emphasised
    Lifelong learning, Scholarship, Communication, Critical thinking, Ethics, Research, Self-motivation, Teamwork.
    View more information about Otago's graduate attributes.
    Learning Outcomes

    Students who successfully complete this paper will:

    • Acquire deep knowledge and understanding of the physiology of epithelial body systems in normal and dysfunctional situations
    • Develop skills in physiological techniques
    • Develop oral and written scientific communication skills


    Semester 2

    Teaching method
    This paper is taught On Campus
    Learning management system


    Stream Days Times Weeks
    A1 Wednesday 09:00-09:50 29-35, 37-42
    Thursday 09:00-09:50 29-35, 37-42


    Stream Days Times Weeks
    A1 Tuesday 14:00-17:50 32, 34, 37, 39, 41
    Wednesday 14:00-17:50 32, 34, 37, 39, 41


    Stream Days Times Weeks
    A1 Tuesday 14:00-16:50 30
    Wednesday 14:00-16:50 30
    Back to top