Gut and Nutrient Metabolism (BMED2405)


This unit of study examines in detail the anatomy of the gastrointestinal tract, from the oral cavity to anal canal, and includes the liver, gallbladder and pancreas. This is complemented by description of the specialised cells in the gastrointestinal tract. This is followed by discussion of the transport mechanisms employed to absorb nutrients, and consideration of control systems used to regulate activity of the digestive process. The role of intestinal microflora in the gastrointestinal tract, contributing to both beneficial digestion and absorption of nutrients, as well as to pathogenic disruption, is also discussed. The pharmacokinetic perspective is explored with discussion of the metabolism and absorption of drugs including detoxification and excretion of xenobiotic compounds. The fate of the macronutrients (carbohydrate, fat and protein) is then considered in terms of their uptake, disposal and reassembly into storage fuels and cellular structures. The biochemical pathways involved in the extraction of energy from the macronutrient fuels are then covered. Examples of these metabolic processes are provided by considering fuel selection during starvation and in diabetes. Practical classes give students extensive experience with inspection of the gastrointestinal system at both the cellular and gross anatomical levels, and in theassay of biochemicals such as glucose. These sessions are designed to nurture observation, data analysis, record keeping and report writing skills.

Our courses that offer this unit of study

Further unit of study information


2 lectures plus 1 tutorial or 1 practical session/wk


One 2hr theory exam (60%), five in-semester assignments/assessments (40%)


Human Physiology: An integrated approach Silverthorn D Pearson/Benjamin Cummings, 6th Edition, 2013; Prescott's Microbiology Willey JM, Sherwood LM and Woolverton CJ McGraw-Hill, 9th Edition, 2014; The Anatomy Coloring Book Kapit W and Elson LM Benjamin Cummings, 3rd Edition, 2002; Histology: A text and Atlas Ross MH and Pawlina W Lippincott, Williams and Wilkins, 6th Edition, 2010; Medical Pharmacology at a Glance Neal MJ Blackwell Science, 7th Edition, 2012; Textbook of Biochemistry with Clinical Correlations Devlin TM John Wiley and Sons Inc., 7th Edition, 2011

Faculty/department permission required?


Unit of study rules

Prerequisites and assumed knowledge

42 credit points of Junior Bachelor of Medical Science units of study


BIOL2916 or BIOL2906 or PHSI2906 or BCHM2072 or PCOL2011 or MICR2922 or MICR2921 or ANAT2010 or ANAT2910 or MICR2022 or BIOL2016 or PHSI2905 or BMED2807 or BMED2904 or PHSI2005 or IMMU2101 or NUTR2911 or BCHM2972 or BIOL2006 or PHSI2006 or NUTR2912 or ANAT2008 or MICR2021 

Study this unit outside a degree

Non-award/non-degree study

If you wish to undertake one or more units of study (subjects) for your own interest but not towards a degree, you may enrol in single units as a non-award student.

Cross-institutional study

If you are from another Australian tertiary institution you may be permitted to underake cross-institutional study in one or more units of study at the University of Sydney.