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FNH 451 Nutrient Metabolism and Implications for Health
Winter Session, Term 2, 2015/2016
FNH 451
Section: TBA
Instructor: Dr. Zhaoming Xu
Phone: (604) 822-6253
Office: FNH 219
Office Hours: Tuesdays 12:00pm - 1:30pm
Class Schedule: Tuesdays and Thursdays, 9:30 a.m. - 11:00 a.m.
Classroom: Class activities and group presentations (FNH 60)
Group activities: FNH 20 (group 1),
50 (group 2 and 3) and 60 (group 4 - 7)

Course Descriptions and Objectives

Regulation of nutrient metabolism is a core concept in nutrition, and a balanced regulation is critical to human health. As a capstone course, the focus of this course is on applying knowledge learned in basic nutrition, physiology, genetics, and biochemistry to developing a comprehensive understanding of the metabolic basis of the interactions of nutrients under various physiological and pathological states.

Guided by this focus, the objectives of this course are to develop and strengthen students' understanding of metabolic regulation and nutrient-nutrient interactions, and to provide students with research experience through addressing nutritional questions using current scientific literature. To achieve these objectives, this course has adopted project-based learning as the mode of delivery. Students, working in groups, conduct an in-depth research on a given topic and report their research findings through a formal research report and oral presentation.

Learning Outcomes

Upon the completion of this course, students should be able to:

  • Discuss new advances in the area of nutrient metabolism with examples;
  • Engage in scientific discussion on the importance of metabolic regulation in maintaining and promoting health, and the metabolic impact of diseases with examples;
  • Explain nutrient-gene interactions and its impact on nutrient metabolism with examples;
  • Discuss metabolic and health implications of nutrient intakes with examples;
  • Integrate knowledge from nutrition, physiology, and biochemistry to address issues in the area of nutrient metabolism under physiological and physiopathological states;
  • Critique original research papers published in peer-reviewed scientific journals in the area of nutrient metabolism and related areas with a higher level of confidence; and
  • Strengthen scientific writing and oral presentation skills.


BIOC 302, PHYL 301 or equivalent, and FNH 350.

Assistance Available to Students

The FNH 451 Connect site will be an important learning and communication resource for the course. You are strongly encouraged to use the discussion board as a means of communication for your group research projects. During the class, I will join your group discussions to provide guidance and feedback on your research, and to answer any questions arising from your research.
I am also available to help with your research during my office hours: 12:00 p.m. - 1:30 p.m. on Tuesdays. You are strongly encouraged to take advantage of this designated time to discuss your research projects on a first-come, first-served basis.

Course Evaluation

Research Project:
Letter of intent 10%
Oral presentation 30%
Written research report 50%
Participation in group presentations (attendance 4% and participation of Q&A 3%) 7%
Providing feedback to group members 3%

Research Project

Students will work in assigned groups on a current topic in the general area of nutrient metabolism and metabolic regulation. Each group will be given a topic by the instructor. The topic provides a general framework for each group to develop an appropriate research question, for which each group will prepare a letter of intent, oral presentation to the class, and written report. Your individual grade on the letter of intent, oral presentation, and written report will be calculated by multiplying your group mark by your peer-evaluation-factor (PEF) assigned to you by your group members. The Guideline for Group Research Projects provides information on evaluation criteria, weighting, and format requirements for the letter of intent, oral presentation and written report, further information on the PEF, and due dates. The Guideline is available on the course Connect site.


You are required to attend and be on time for all student presentations (Mar 29 - April 7). Attendance at each of the group presentation classes is worth 1% of your final grade, for a total of 4%. Attendance will be taken within the first 10 minutes of the class. If you have a valid reason for missing class, please contact the instructor BEFORE the class. In the case of illness, a doctor’s note is required. You are encouraged to actively listen and participate in the discussion following the presentations. To encourage participation, 3% of your final mark will be based on your participation in the discussion period following the student presentations.

Providing feedback to group members

Throughout the term you will be working in groups. To encourage communication within groups, you will be asked to evaluate and provide feedback for yourself, your group and your group members using the S (strength) - I (opportunity for improvement) - R (remedy) approach. Your feedback should be posted on your group’s discussion board on the course Connect site. Your instructor will check to ensure that you have posted feedback, but will not comment on your discussion board. You will be asked to post feedback six times throughout the term, once during each of the following periods: Jan 4 - 15, Jan 18 - 29, Feb 1 - 12, Feb 22 - Mar 4, Mar 7 - 18, Mar 21 - April 7. Each post will be worth 0.5% of your final grade for a total of 3%. Late or incomplete postings will not be counted.

Academic Misconduct

The integrity of academic work depends on the honesty of all those who work in this environment and the observance of accepted conventions such as acknowledging the work of others through careful citation of all sources used in your work. Plagiarism of all forms is treated as a serious offence at UBC. You should be aware of the sections of the University Calendar that address academic integrity ( and plagiarism ( The UBC Library also has a useful web-based Plagiarism Resource Centre that explains what plagiarism is and how to avoid it ( If you have questions or concerns about any of these policies or conventions in relation to how they apply to the work you do in this course, please discuss them with me.

Activities (Tentative)

Date Location Activities
01/05 FNH 60 Introduction to the course
Tips for conducting an effective literature research
01/07 - 03/24 FNH 20,
50 & 60
Group research (in-class; all groups)
Letter of intent and the peer evaluation form for the letter of intent are due on Friday, January 29 (all groups)
02/16 & 18 Mid-term break (no class)
03/29 FNH 60 Group presentations:
Group 3: Glycemic variability and diabetes management
Group 6: Fructose and metabolic syndrome
Summary and slides are due on 11:59 pm on March 21
03/31 FNH 60 Group presentations:
Group 2: Metabolic basis of iron-copper interactions
Group 5: Regulation of selenium metabolism and transport
Summary and slides are due on 11:59 pm on March 23
04/05 FNH 60 Group presentations:
Group 1: Gut microbiota and the brain/neurological health
Group 7: Gut microbiota and programming health and disease
Summary and slides are due on 11:59 pm on March 28
04/07 FNH 60 Group presentations:
Group 4: mTOR and lipid metabolism and regulation
Course wrap up
Summary and slides are due on 11:59 pm on March 30
04/08 Due for the written report, and peer evaluation form for oral presentation and written report (all groups)