Collective and experimental research project for master's students on the pathophysiology of obesity

Adv Physiol Educ. 2017 Dec 1;41(4):505-513. doi: 10.1152/advan.00147.2016.


We describe here a collective and experimental research project-based learning (ERPBL) for master's students that can be used to illustrate some basic concepts on glucose/lipid homeostasis and renal function around a topical issue. The primary objective of this ERPBL was to strengthen students' knowledge and understanding of physiology and pathophysiology. The secondary objectives were to help students to develop technical/practical abilities and acquire transversal skills with real-world connections. Obesity is a worldwide public health problem that increases the risk for developing type 2 diabetes and nephropathies. To study the impact of western dietary habits, students evaluated the effects of a diet enriched with fat and cola [high-fat and cola diet (HFCD)] on metabolism and renal function in mice. Students mainly worked in tandem to prepare and perform experiments, but also collectively to compile, analyze, and discuss data. Students showed that HFCD-fed mice 1) developed obesity; 2) exhibited glucose homeostasis impairments associated to ectopic fat storage; and 3) displayed reduced glomerular filtration. The educational benefit of the program was estimated using three evaluation metrics: a conventional multicriteria assessment by teachers, a pre-/posttest, and a self-evaluation questionnaire. They showed that the current approach successfully strengthened scientific student knowledge and understanding of physiology/pathophysiology. In addition, it helped students develop new skills, such as technical and transversal skills. We concluded that this ERPBL dealing with the pathophysiology of obesity was strongly beneficial for master's students, thereby appearing as an efficient and performing educational tool.

Keywords: diabetes; education; nephropathies; obesity; teaching/learning strategies.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Biology / education*
  • Biomedical Research / methods*
  • Curriculum
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / complications
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / metabolism
  • Diet, Western / adverse effects*
  • Education, Graduate / methods*
  • Educational Measurement / methods
  • Humans
  • Mice
  • Obesity / complications
  • Obesity / metabolism
  • Obesity / physiopathology*
  • Physiology / education
  • Students*