PSL1086H - Comparative Systems Approach to Diving Physiology

Course Coordinator: C. Wittnich

Teaching Faculty: M. Belanger; C.Wittnich

This specialized course will compare and contrast the physiologic and anatomical adaptations experienced by the different species of marine mammals in contrast to humans. In order to accomplish this the following areas will be explored in depth using key published scientific articles: physiologic and anatomic adaptations of the skeleton/musculature that facilitates swimming, overview of diving and its effects in humans; diving and marine mammals - what makes them so special; overview of human vs marine mammal cardiac and vascular physiology; their structural adaptations to facilitate diving; comparative lung physiology adapted to diving; blood and tissue oxygen carrying capacity; feeding & reproduction; renal homeostasis during diving, role of the neuro-endocrine system and comparative deep diving systemic effects. Where relevant the application of this knowledge to human health issues will also be discussed.

General course topics will include:

  • Human Diving Principals
  • Overview of Systems Responses to Diving
  • Cardiovascular Modification and Responses to Diving
  • ADL vs cADL as a Determinant of all Diving Behaviors
  • Adaptations of the Respiratory System and Role in Diving
  • Skeletal Muscle Metabolic Role in Successful Diving
  • Apply Theoretical Diving Physiology
  • Mechanisms for Pathologies Resulting from Diving
  • Physiological Impact of Feeding and Reproduction on Diving

20% - Debates
  5% - Seminar participation
10% - Mini weekly assignments for journal club *
  5% - Essay Outline  
20% - Oral Presentation on Essay
40% - Final Essay-subject dealing with one of the lecture topics     

* for 2019 this mark will be evenly redistributed to essay outline and oral presentation           

There will be 2 major debates – each one focused on a different topic with protagonists and antagonists. Students will be assigned to either one view or the other for each topic and then prepare presentations summarizing their view and the literature supporting it.  There will be a grade out of 20 assigned in total with 10 for the first and 10 for the second topic.

Students are encouraged to either attend the optional lectures or review literature to prepare for each seminar. Individual contribution to the seminars will form this component of the marking scheme.                                                           

The outline for the essay is to be no longer than 2 single spaced typed pages, 12 font and consist of enough information to assess the future content of the essay and what length will be dedicated to the various sections/components. No references are needed at this point.

This outline will be evaluated on a 1- 5 point score for each of the following:

Adherence to 2 pages (single spaced); Relevance of topic selected; Appropriateness of critical review of literature; Organization and flow of review; Usefulness of review to clarify literature in the field; Focus of outline; Originality of review; Clarity & Ease of interpretation.

The presentation will be graded on a 1- 5 point scale on each of the following categories:

Verbal component: Adherence to time allotted; Grasp of field around topic; Background and rationale of subject indicated; Quality of presentation; Originality; Coherence and effectiveness of presentation; Ability to answer questions; Overall impression.  AV component: Clarity of slides or overheads; Ease of interpretation; Use of audiovisual aids.  

Provide a clear, concise review of the topic selected with 15 double spaced pages (not including diagrams) and 5 pages of references. Topic selected must not be your thesis work, nor can it be identical to any lectures. It should include the current state of knowledge in a logical and clear manner, a good and thorough review of the literature, and identification of areas of potential investigation. Assignments will be graded according to readability, organization, interpretation of the literature, clarity and identification of appropriate areas for future study.

The written assignment will be graded on a 1- 5 point scale on each component listed:

Adherence to review guidelines (max 15 pgs, double-spaced, 5 pgs references); Relevance of topic selected; Appropriateness of critical review of literature; Organization of review; Flow of manuscript; Usefulness of review article to clarify literature in the field; Student’s grasp of field around review topic; Background and rationale of review; Quality of review and proposal; Originality of review; Clarity & Ease of interpretation.

Graduate students are expected to attend the lectures on the topics being given by the faculty as part of the undergraduate PSL480H series if they feel it would be of help. Location: Medical Sciences Building, Room 3278, Thursdays 9-11 a.m.

Last updated: 10-Sep-2019