Universitat Internacional de Catalunya

Fundamentals of Physiopathology

Fundamentals of Physiopathology
Second semester
Main language of instruction: English

Other languages of instruction: Catalan, Spanish

Teaching staff

Dr. Mariano Fernández Fairen mfernandezfa@uic.es


This is a basic discipline for all sciences involved directly or indirectly with healthcare. It emerges from the convergence between physiology and pathology. Physiology is the branch of biology that studies the processes and mechanisms which operate within an organism. Pathology is the part of medicine that aims to describe the conditions that may be observed during illness. 

This discipline is therefore dedicated to the study of the biological, biochemical, genetic and immunological phenomena, among others, which take place at organic, tissue, cell and molecular levels and the alterations and mechanisms from which the various illnesses originate. This makes it possible to identify the origin and importance of the harmful agent, why the symptoms occur, the range of accompanying manifestations and ways to potentially remedy or offset these alterations. 

It is a fundamental discipline for all bioengineers, as they must be familiar with and understand everything mentioned above in order to properly approach the problems they will need to resolve. 

Pre-course requirements

Students must have completed year-one subjects Anatomy and Physiology, Chemistry/Biochemistry and Cell and Molecular Biology, as well as year-two subjects Applied Physiopathology and Cell and Molecular Biology 2.


  • To become familiar with and understand the pathophysiological process in all phases of the life cycle, identifying the problems and preventive and clinical aspects of the person, both in terms of health and illness.
  • To acquire the medical knowledge of both healthy and sick persons in all phases of the life cycle, from childhood to old age, necessary to evaluate, synthesise and apply the resources and solutions available in the field of Bioengineering for these situations.
  • Content synthesis: To develop an in-depth understanding of why the functions and mechanisms of living beings become altered, it is necessary to understand the physical, chemical and biological principles of these processes, combining approaches at atomic, molecular, cell, genetic and immunological levels.


  • CB1 - Students must demonstrate that they have and understand knowledge in an area of study based on general secondary education. This knowledge should be of a level that, although based on advanced textbooks, also includes some of the cutting-edge elements from their field of study.
  • CB2 - Students must know how to apply their knowledge to their work or vocation in a professional way and have the competences that are demonstrated through the creation and defence of arguments and the resolution of problems within their field of study.
  • CB3 - Students must have the ability to bring together and interpret significant data (normally within their area of study) and to issue judgements that include a reflection on important issues that are social, scientific or ethical in nature.
  • CB4 - Students can transmit information, ideas, problems and solutions to specialist and non-specialist audiences.
  • CB5 - Students have developed the necessary learning skills to undertake subsequent studies with a high degree of autonomy.
  • CE15 - The ability to undertake a project through the use of data sources, the application of methodologies, research techniques and tools specific to Bioengineering, give a presentation and publicly defend it to a specialist audience in a way that demonstrates the acquisition of the competences and knowledge that are specific to this degree programme.
  • CE16 - To apply specific Bioengineering terminology both verbally and in writing in a foreign language.
  • CE17 - To be able to identify the engineering concepts that can be applied in the fields of biology and health.
  • CE8 - To hold a dialogue based on critical thinking on ideas connected to the main dimensions of the human being
  • CG10 - To know how to work in a multilingual and multidisciplinary environment.
  • CG2 - To promote the values that are specific to a peaceful culture, thus contributing to democratic coexistence, respect for human rights and fundamental principles such as equality and non-discrimination.
  • CG3 - To be able to learn new methods and theories and be versatile so as to adapt to new situations.
  • CG4 - To resolve problems based on initiative, be good at decision-making, creativity, critical reasoning and communication, as well as the transmission of knowledge, skills and prowess in the field of Bioengineering
  • CG7 - To analyse and evaluate the social and environmental impact of technical solutions
  • CG8 - To apply quality principles and methods.
  • CT2 - The ability to link welfare with globalisation and sustainability; to acquire the ability to use skills, technology, the economy and sustainability in a balanced and compatible manner.
  • CT3 - To know how to communicate learning results to other people both verbally and in writing, and well as thought processes and decision-making; to participate in debates in each particular specialist areas.
  • CT4 - To be able to work as a member of an interdisciplinary team, whether as a member or by management tasks, with the aim of contributing to undertaking projects based on pragmatism and a feeling of responsibility, taking on commitment while bearing the resources available in mind.
  • CT5 - To use information sources in a reliable manner. To manage the acquisition, structuring, analysis and visualisation of data and information in your specialist area and critically evaluate the results of this management.
  • CT6 - To detect gaps in your own knowledge and overcome this through critical reflection and choosing better actions to broaden your knowledge.
  • CT7 - To be fluent in a third language, usually English, with a suitable verbal and written level that is in line with graduate requirements.

Learning outcomes

  • To become familiar with the function of the body, tissues and cells in healthy humans


  • To understand the genetic, biochemical, metabolic, immunological, traumatic, infectious and environmental reasons for disorders that compromise health
  • To become familiar with the mechanisms of illness at a molecular, cell and tissue level
  • To become familiar with the organic, tissue, cellular and molecular alterations underlying illness
  • To become familiar with the mechanisms of illness at a molecular, cell and tissue level 
  • To become familiar with the manifestations or symptoms of the different illnesses
  • To become familiar with and be able to assess the complementary means of diagnosis
  • To become familiar with and be able to assess the therapeutic means and possible solutions for organic alterations
  • To reason the principles and fundamentals of Bioengineering based on this knowledge



1.- Biology

2.- Biochemistry

3.- The cell

4.- Metabolism

5.- Cell reproduction

6.- Cell death

7.- Microbiota and microbiome

8.- Tissues

9.- Organs and systems

10.- Genetics

11.- Nutrition

12.- Metabolic syndrome

13.- Immunity

14.- Inflammation

15.- Infection

16.- Shock

17.- Multiple organ dysfunction syndrome

18.- Sensory disorders

19.- Pain

20.- Motor disorders

21.- Cancer

22.- Involution

23.- The environment

Teaching and learning activities

In person

Lectures: Transmitting knowledge and activating the students’ cognitive processes, engaging them with lectures on all topics.

Cooperative learning: Using cooperative work strategies between students to develop active learning and fostering shared responsibility to achieve groups goals. 

Problem-based learning: 

  • Based on the question, analyse, process and provide solutions to real problems

  • Make students responsible for their own learning process

  • Develop a relevant knowledge base 

  • Develop the ability to critically evaluate and acquire new knowledge

  • Develop the ability to pose complex problems and potential solutions

  • Develop interpersonal skills

  • Engage the students and increase their initiative and enthusiasm

  • Develop cognitive, integrative, expression and communication skills


Evaluation systems and criteria

In person

The following items are each worth 50% of the final mark:

a) Written work on a subject chosen by the student

b) Oral exam about the program


Important considerations:

  1. Plagiarism, copying or any other action that may be considered cheating will be zero in that evaluation section. Besides, plagiarism during exams will mean the immediate failing of the whole subject.
  2. In the second-sitting exams, the maximum grade students will be able to obtain is "Excellent" (grade with honors distinction will not be posible).
  3. Changes of the calendar, exam dates or the evaluation system will not be accepted.
  4. Exchange students (Erasmus and others) or repeaters will be subjected to the same conditions as the rest of the students.

Bibliography and resources

Bibliographic resources of images and videos are on the course webpage

Complementary bibliography: 

  • Verbruggen SW: Mechanobiology in Health and Disease. Academic Press, Elsevier, 2018.
  • Copstead-Kirkhorn LE, Banasik JL: Pathophysiology. Elsevier, 2014.