CCMD 730 Syllabus

CCMD 730 - Human Function


A photo of Lisa Salati.

Lisa M. Salati, PhD

West Virginia University
Assistant Vice President for Graduate Education, Research & Graduate Education
Professor, Biochemistry
A photo of L Harris.

L A Harris

West Virginia University
Trades Specialist Lead I, Maintenance Engineering
A photo of Steven Frisch.

Steven M. Frisch, PhD

West Virginia University
Professor, Biochemistry
Program 1: Mechanisms of Metastasis & Therapeutic Response Program (MMTR), WVU Cancer Institute Research Programs
Mentor, Cancer Cell Biology Graduate Education
A photo of Brad Hillgartner.

Brad Hillgartner, PhD

West Virginia University
Professor, Biochemistry
A photo of Andrew Shiemke.

Andrew K Shiemke, PhD

West Virginia University
Associate Professor, Biochemistry
A photo of Mary Wimmer.

Mary J. Wimmer, PhD

West Virginia University
Professor Emeritus, Biochemistry

Course Description

The Human Function Course uses an integrated approach to teaching first year medical students. It combines the traditional subjects of biochemistry, human genetics and physiology in one course. Information is conveyed to students in several modes: lectures, problem solving exercises, clinical correlations and computer-aided instruction. In addition, problem based learning (PBL) is integrated with Human Function, such that clinical cases are covered that are related to the subject matter being presented in lectures. Hence, a considerable amount of instructional time will be devoted to self-learning activities. The overall goal of the Human Function Module is not only to teach medical students basic science information, but further, to allow them to develop the problem solving skills needed for the practice of medicine.

Required Textbooks

Textbook of Biochemistry with Clinical Correlations, Seventh Edition, Thomas M. Devlin, Editor, Wiley-Liss, Publ., NY (2006).

Genetics in Medicine, Seventh Edition. Thompson and Thompson, eds., Saunders (2007).

Recommended Text

"Medical Physiology", Walter Boron and Emile Boulpaep, Saunders College Publishing (2008).

The Human Function faculty in Physiology post material on the course website that is sufficient for their portions of the course. The faculty recommend the above text to students as a reference tool and to augment and extend course materials.

Grading policy

The grade in Human Function is based on performance on examinations, which are given at 3-week intervals, and will be composed of multiple-choice questions. In addition, a National Board Subject Examination in Biochemistry and a National Board Subject Examination in Physiology will be given as final comprehensive examinations. The overall grade in the course will be calculated as follows:

Section Examinations 1 through 5 = 80%

National Board Exam in Biochemistry = 10%

National Board Exam in Physiology = 10%

Performance in the Physiology component and the Biochemistry/Genetics component of Human Function will also be graded separately for each student and students will be required to pass both components (score of greater than 75.0%) in order to pass Human Function. The separate component scores will be based on the questions from each component on the five section exams (80%) and the score on the National Board Subject exam (20%).

The grading scale is as follows:

Honors (H) Not more than the top 15% of class
Pass (P) 75.0% and greater overall AND 75.0% or greater in both the Physiology and Biochemistry/Genetics components
Fail (F) Less than 75.0% overall, OR less than 75.0% in either the Physiology, or the Biochemistry/Genetics components

The Course Director reports the overall performance of each student to the Committee on Academic and Professional Standards, including overall grade, performance in the Biochemistry/Genetics and Physiology components of the course, NBME subject exam results, comments on overall performance and small-group effort, and any other relevant descriptors of performance. Passing scores on the NBME subject exams will be at the 12th percentile or greater. Students are NOT required to pass the NBME subject exams in order to pass the course, but failing scores will be reported to the Committee on Academic and Professional Standards at the end of the semester. Remediation of a failing score on any component of Human Function will be at the discretion of the Committee on Academic and Professional Standards.

Please note that in rare instances questions may be mis-keyed or errors may occur in our examinations. In such cases, the Course Director will make the appropriate grading corrections.

Active Learning & Integration Sessions

There will be two review sessions per week on Thursday and Friday from 11:00 to 11:50. Attendance at these sessions is voluntary. In general, the instructors for the Thursday session will be those faculty who lectured on the previous Friday, Monday & Tuesday. Instructors for the Friday session will be those faculty who lectured on the previous Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. Instructors will present students with questions similar to what will appear on exams. Audience response software (Turning Point) will be used to allow students to respond to the questions. The questions will not be posted beforehand, and the answers will not be posted afterward. Student’s responses will be anonymous and the goal is to provide a venue for students to explore the depth of their knowledge and engage the instructors in discussion.

Small Groups

There will be mandatory small group review sessions for those students who perform at a failing level (<75%) on either the Biochemistry/Genetics or Physiology component of the first exam. These sessions will be led by a faculty member and will meet once a week for Biochemistry review and once a week for Physiology review. Students will be given questions covering the previous weeks lecture material that they will discuss. Once the student's average grade exceeds 75.0%, attendance at the weekly small-group sessions will be voluntary.

Recording of Lectures

The School of Medicine supports the use of the Camtasia system for recording the audio portion of lectures. The lectures in Human Function may be recorded using Camtasia, but this will be done only at the discretion of each lecturer. Lectures may also not be recorded due to technical difficulties. Because there is no guarantee that a Camtasia recording will be available for each and every lecture, students should use these recordings as a study aid and a convenience to the student, not as a substitute for attendance at the lectures.


The School of Medicine has adopted the six core competencies endorsed by the ACGME that all medical students should meet by graduation (see Human Function website for a link to all the competencies). The Human Function Module is primarily a knowledge- based experience, and the following list illustrates how the course goals relate to these competencies.

Patient Care

  1. Evaluate biochemical, physiological, and genetic information from diagnostic tests in order to determine the processes and structures that are responsible for various disease states.
  2. Reason deductively to prioritize and solve clinical problems in settings of complexity and uncertainty.
  3. Describe the biochemical, genetic, and physiological basis of prevention strategies, diagnostic tests, treatment options and prescriptions in order to be able to educate patients and their families.

Medical Knowledge

  1. Know the normal function and structure of the human body, with appreciation of the cellular, molecular, biochemical, and physiological role of the various organ systems and their role in homeostasis.
  2. Describe molecular, cellular and biochemical mechanisms of homeostasis.
  3. Know the various causes of disease (pathogenesis) including altered function and structure of the body and major organ systems and the ways in which they operate on the body (pathophysiology).
  4. Describe the biochemical and physiological foundations of diagnostic methods, therapeutic interventions, outcomes, and prevention with respect to specific disease processes in individuals and populations.
  5. Describe the genetic, biochemical, and physiological basis of patient response to drugs.
  6. Explain the effects of health behaviors and preventative measures on the biochemical and physiological basis of disease.
  7. Understand the role of the scientific method and critical evaluation of scientific literature in establishing causes of, and therapy for, disease.

Practice Based Learning and Improvement

  1. Retrieve, manage, and critically appraise sources of medical information and research to stay abreast of advances in medical sciences.
  2. Apply knowledge of biochemistry, genetics, and physiology to appraise the value and validity of scientific studies.
  3. Demonstrate self-directed study, as elicited by integrating the clinical problems discussed in clinical correlation lectures with the information on normal function and structure of the human body presented in the didactic lectures.
  4. Elicit and receive feedback from colleagues and other health professionals to further earning and development.

Interpersonal and Communication Skills

  1. Demonstrate effective listening skills.
  2. Demonstrate effective verbal, non-verbal and written communication and reading skills.


  1. Demonstrate professionalism, as evidenced by attending all clinical correlation sessions and provide a respectful and courteous atmosphere for the visiting clinicians and patients.

Academic Integrity

Medical students sign an oath upon entering WVU that signifies that they will conduct themselves in an honest and professional manner. With regard to the Human Function Course, this includes honesty during all examinations, the obligation to report others engaged in dishonest behavior, and professional behavior when dealing with faculty and classmates. During examinations, talking or sharing information is not tolerated, nor is reference to notes or books. If a proctor observes such behavior, the involved student(s) will be asked to hand in the examinations and will receive the grade of zero. The proctor will also inform the Course Director of this behavior, which will later be recorded in the narrative evaluation.

Standards of Behavior

The classroom role of the medical student involves demonstrating attitudes, values, and behaviors consistent with professional behavior. In the classroom setting, an environment conducive to learning is fostered through mutual respect among students, staff, and faculty.

To ensure an environment that is conductive to learning, we are asking that personal communication devices (cell phones and pagers) be turned off, or to silent mode, during our learning experiences. Other distracting behaviors such as loud talking between students, playing of computer games, listening to music or reading of newspapers are regarded as nonprofessional behavior.

Days of Special Concern

WVU recognizes the diversity of its students and the needs of those who wish to be absent from class to participate in Days of Special Concern, which are listed in the Schedule of Courses. Students should notify their instructors by the end of the second week of classes or prior to the first Day of Special Concern, whichever is earlier, regarding Days of Special Concern observances that will affect their attendance.

Problem-Based Learning

The primary small group experience during the first-year of medical school involves the study of clinical cases using the Problem-Based Learning (PBL) method described on the PBL Home Page in SOLE. This experience is designed to enhance teamwork, communication and self-directed learning skills of students as they use basic science principles to explain clinical problems. Groups of 8 students meet on a weekly basis with a faculty facilitator to discuss cases. The PBL method is student-directed as the students consider the details of each case and identify relevant basic science learning issues with which they are unfamiliar. Each student is expected to research these issues during the ensuing week and come to the next session prepared for discussion. PBL groups will meet throughout the entire first year, and facilitators will evaluate the performance of each student at the end of the Human Function Module (and the Human Structure/Neurobiology modules). This evaluation will be in narrative form and will be sent to the Dean to become part of the student’s permanent record. While there is no formal examination in PBL, the basic science subject matter often complements that presented in other sections of the course. Hence, students may encounter questions on examinations that relate to material discussed in PBL sessions.

Important Policies

Common policies, procedures and the Social Justice Statement can be found here. Please review and become familiar with this important information. * Note: All School of Medicine Policies may be located in the WVU Medical Student Handbook and the SOM Course and Clerkship Manual SOLE sites.

Policies that You Should Pay Particular Attention to:

The date and time of all examinations will be listed on the course schedule in SOLE. Examinees should check email on the day before and early on the day of the examination for last minute instructor notices or changes that result from a weather or facility emergency.

Students shall not do the following in an examination:

  • Communicate with others, except proctors
  • Obtain unauthorized help from another person
  • Give help to another student
  • Take an examination in place of another student
  • Gain access to unauthorized material in connection with an examination
  • Make use of unauthorized material in connection with an examination
  • Obtain impermissible advance knowledge of the contents of examination

Students must bring their computers, Ethernet cables, and power supply/cable to the examination room, along with a pencil. Students may not bring backpacks, briefcases, luggage, reference materials (books, notes, papers), mobile telephones, personal digital assistants, paging devices, radios, calculators, recording/filming devices, and/or watches with alarms, computer, or memory capability into the testing room.

All examinees are to arrive on time for the examination. Examinees are expected to start promptly at the examination start time. Examinees may enter the examination room up to 20 minutes prior to the exam start time, ensuring that they can login to the examination. Admission to the exam for late arrivals will be at the discretion of the Dean-on-Call. "Late" is defined as arriving at the classroom any time after the published exam start time.

A student who arrives late for an examination will not be admitted to the exam and must report to the Dean-on-Call at the Office of Student Services. The Dean-on-Call will determine whether the student will be allowed admission to the exam and will determine the conditions under which the exam can be taken. The student must present written documentation of this decision to the course director or chief proctor in order to be admitted to the exam.

It is an expectation that students will take examinations when they are offered. However, it is recognized that occasionally a student may experience a substantial reason (e.g. illness or death in the family) to be absent. If an examination is missed, students must request and obtain permission from the Dean-on-Call at the Office of Student Services to take a make-up examination. Once this approval has been obtained, arrangements will be made to administer the examination as soon as possible.

NBME Subject examinations have their own distinct schedules regarding absence from an examination and course directors will follow NBME guidelines for those examinations. Students will incur any costs associated with makeup of NBME subject examinations.