PHYS30110 Adaptation to hypoxia: high altitude and lessons for disease

Academic Year 2023/2024

When individuals move to high altitude, whether for recreational (climbing, skiing, flying) or commercial purposes, the supply of oxygen to the vital organs of the body is challenged. The circulation faces particular challenges in this circumstance in order to ensure adequate oxygen delivery to the tissues. Similar challenges face the heart, lungs and circulation in many common diseases. Much has been learnt about disease processes from studies of humans and animals who migrate to high altitude and from research in high altitude adapted populations. In this module the adaptive responses of the cardiovascular and respiratory systems to sustained hypoxia will be examined. There will be a particular focus on the control of blood flow, the role of the endothelium, nitric oxide and cyclic nucleotide signaling. These will be considered in the light of the whole body integrated responses to hypoxia. Many aspects of the hypoxic response are also activated in chronic cardiovascular and lung diseases e.g. thrombosis and embolism. Important lessons from high altitude and hypoxic studies that contribute to our understanding and treatment of these diseases will be highlighted. The potentially beneficial and adverse consequences of these responses will examined by reference to original research papers on this topic.This module is intended mainly for students in stage 4 of the Science degree programme, the Biomedical Health and Life Science programme and medical students who have completed stage 2 of their degree. Other students with an appropriate learning background are also welcome but should discuss this with the module coordinator before enrolling.

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Curricular information is subject to change

Learning Outcomes:

On successful completion of this module students will be able to:

Describe the cardiovascular and pulmonary responses that are observed following exposure to hypoxia (high altitude)

Describe and understand the potential beneficial and adverse effects of these responses

Understand and critically evaluate original research studies used to elucidate the responses to hypoxia.

Understand the important lessons learnt from this research for our understanding of cardiovascular and lung diseases.

Indicative Module Content:

The key topics covered in the course are as follows:

How do healthy sea level natives deal with the challenge hypoxia on moving to high altitude?

How have high altitude populations, including Tibetan, South American Andean and Ethiopian populations, adapted to deal with the challenge of hypoxia?

What physiological mechanisms allow the body to detect sudden onset hypoxia quickly (within seconds and minutes) so that rapid responses may be implemented to deal with the challenge?

What physiological mechanisms allow the body to acclimatise to hypoxia over the longer terms (weeks, months and years)?

What are the consequences of hypoxia in diseases and how can we use knowledge of hypoxic responses to develop new disease treatments?

Student Effort Hours: 
Student Effort Type Hours
Lectures

12

Tutorial

6

Specified Learning Activities

35

Autonomous Student Learning

50

Total

103

Approaches to Teaching and Learning:
The course includes a series of lectures that provide the knowledge required. In addition there are interactive tutorials that support preparation of the two review essays that form the in-course assessment. Some of these are debates on the topic under review while others are presentations on the topic followed by discussion. The tutorials are designed to help with preparation and submission of the essays. 
Requirements, Exclusions and Recommendations
Learning Requirements:

Other suitable prior learning that has outcomes similar to those of PHYS30020 or MDSA10100/MDSA20200 or PHYS20150/MDSA20150 may substitute. Please discuss with module coordinator for further information.

Learning Recommendations:

PHYS30020 or MDSA10100/MDSA20200 or PHYS20150/MDSA20150


Module Requisites and Incompatibles
Pre-requisite:
MDSA10100 - Respiratory Biology, MDSA20150 - Cardiorespiratory Physiology, MDSA20200 - Respiratory Biology, PHYS20150 - Cardiorespiratory Physiology, PHYS30020 - Respiratory Physiology

Additional Information:
Other basic courses in respiratory and cardiovascular physiology (similar to PHYS30020 Respiratory Physiology or MDSA10100/20200 Respiratory Biology or MDSA20150/PHYS20150 Cardiorespiratory Physiology). Please discuss with module coordinator.


 
Assessment Strategy  
Description Timing Open Book Exam Component Scale Must Pass Component % of Final Grade In Module Component Repeat Offered
Attendance: Attendance and participation in tutorial. The background content of the tutorial is provided through lectures and specific reading materials that you must review in advance of the tutorial. Throughout the Trimester n/a Graded No

8

No
Examination: Section 1. The final examination paper is an essay paper during the end of trimester assessment period. There are 3 Sections in the paper and 1 essay question from each Section must be attempted. 2 hour End of Trimester Exam No Graded No

23

No
Examination: Section 3. The final examination paper is an essay paper during the end of trimester assessment period. There are 3 Sections in the paper and 1 essay question from each Section must be attempted. 2 hour End of Trimester Exam No Graded No

23

No
Assignment: One essay based on the lectures, tutorials and selected original research publications. Preparation of thes essay assignment will be supported during the tutorials. Percentage final grade 15% each Varies over the Trimester n/a Graded No

15

Yes
Attendance: Attendance and participation in tutorial. The background content of the tutorial is provided through lectures and specific reading materials that you must review in advance of the tutorial. Throughout the Trimester n/a Graded No

8

No
Examination: Section 2. The final examination paper is an essay paper during the end of trimester assessment period. There are 3 Sections in the paper and 1 essay question from each Section must be attempted. 2 hour End of Trimester Exam No Graded No

23

No

Carry forward of passed components
Yes
 
Resit In Terminal Exam
Spring Yes - 2 Hour
Please see Student Jargon Buster for more information about remediation types and timing. 
Feedback Strategy/Strategies

• Feedback individually to students, on an activity or draft prior to summative assessment
• Feedback individually to students, post-assessment
• Group/class feedback, post-assessment

How will my Feedback be Delivered?

Student will receive individual feedback on the essay undertaken during the trimester, as written comments and as feedback in individual meetings where requested.

1. "Respiratory Physiology, the essentials" by John West and Andrew M Luks.
Publishers: Lippincott, Williams and Wilkins.
(Latest edition ISBN 9781975139261).

2. Articles in peer reviewed journals recommended during the course, all currently available through UCD Library.
Name Role
Dr Julie Freeman Tutor