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Introduction to Nutrition and Metabolism


  • Credit value: 15 credits at Level 4
  • Convenor: Dr Richard Rayne
  • TutorsDr Richard Rayne and others from the school
  • Assessment: computer-based (MCQ) tests and online short-answer tests (100%)

Module description

This is the third module in a three-module sequence at Level 4 designed to develop your knowledge and understanding of foundational principles underpinning the functioning of cells in higher organisms. A sound background in this subject matter is required by biomedical scientists and molecular biologists and is preparatory for modules in later years of the programme.

The module provides a broad overview of macronutrient (carbohydrates, fats, proteins) metabolism in the human, focusing on central pathways of energy metabolism and how these are regulated.

Indicative syllabus

  • Pathway design principles: how are the catalytic activities of key enzymes controlled to determine branch point selection and/or direction?
  • Pathway design principles: what factors contribute to unidirectional metabolite flux through a pathway?
  • Macronutrients: chemical features; digestion; absorption and distribution through the body; cellular uptake; utilisation as metabolic fuels

Learning objectives

By the end of this module, you will be able to:

  • outline key factors affecting metabolite flux through a pathway, using glycolysis as an example
  • explain how a combination of intrinsic factors (e.g. adenine nucleotides and other metabolites) and extrinsic factors (primarily, hormones) establish net glycolysis vs. net gluconeogenesis in hepatocytes
  • outline the major ATP-generating pathways in animal cells, starting from macronutrient fuels (carbohydrate, fat, protein) and leading to ATP production
  • compare and contrast digestion and absorption of carbohydrates, fats and proteins
  • for the key metabolic fuels (glucose, fatty acids, amino acids), summarise how these are delivered to cells, how they enter cells, and how their catabolism is initiated
  • with the aid of appropriate diagrams, explain how macronutrient overnutrition typically leads to the excess being stored as fat.