Faculty of Medicine, Nursing and Health Sciences

Undergraduate - Unit

This unit entry is for students who completed this unit in 2012 only. For students planning to study the unit, please refer to the unit indexes in the the current edition of the Handbook. If you have any queries contact the managing faculty for your course or area of study.

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6 points, SCA Band 0 (NATIONAL PRIORITY), 0.125 EFTSL

Refer to the specific census and withdrawal dates for the semester(s) in which this unit is offered, or view unit timetables.

FacultyFaculty of Medicine, Nursing and Health Sciences
OfferedClayton First semester 2012 (Day)
Coordinator(s)Dr Nirma Samarwickremaand Dr Karen Walker (Nutrition and Dietetics)


This unit aims to provide a basic understanding of the metabolism of macro and micronutrients and of the role of nutrition in influencing cell growth, cancer development, blood formation and gene function. Emphasis will be on clinical relevance, the integration of biochemical pathways and how this is modulated by dietary change, and on techniques used to assess both normal dietary requirements and nutrient deficiencies. Students will be introduced to biochemical mechanisms of energy expenditure and storage, including metabolic adaptation to periods of fasting or food intake.


At the completion of the unit the students will have an understanding of:

  1. substrate partitioning and mechanisms of energy expenditure and storage;

  1. the metabolic role of the liver;

  1. substrate metabolism in the fasted and fed state;

  1. metabolism of nitrogenous compounds, digestible and non-digestible carbohydrates and lipids;

  1. the role of micronutrients and concepts of nutrient balance;

  1. nutritional influences on cell growth, differentiation, programmed cell death and the development of the cancerous cell;

  1. nutritional influences on the development of blood cells, blood coagulation and fibrinolysis;

  1. introductory concepts in the nutrient modulation of gene expression;

  1. in tutorials: to develop students' skills in integrating and relating new knowledge in Nutritional biochemistry to situations which they may encounter in a clinical setting; also to develop skills in research for additional information on questions arising in this process; and

  1. in practical classes: to develop students' skills in scientific observation, data presentation and analysis; to introduce students to the use of food composition databases and to develop skills in dietary analysis using computer based programs.


Examination: 40%
Mid semester test: 10%
Small group activities/ assignments: 50%

Chief examiner(s)

Dr Nirma Samarwickrema

Contact hours

6 hours per week (lectures and tutorials)


Completion of year 1 Bachelor of Nutrition and Dietetics


Must be enrolled in the Bachelor of Nutrition and Dietetics