585.601.81 - Physiology for Applied Biomedical Engineering I

Applied Biomedical Engineering
Spring 2024


This course is the first semester of a two-semester sequence designed to provide the physiological background necessary for advanced work in biomedical engineering. A quantitative, model-oriented approach to physiology systems is stressed. using video lectures, virtual reality, readings, computer simulations, and literature-based research, students will learn about basic cell structure and function membrane transport mechanisms, electrical properties of excitable tissue, muscular tissue (skeletal, smooth, and cardiac), the cardiovascular system, and the respiratory system.


Profile photo of Caitlin Torgerson.

Caitlin Torgerson


Course Structure

The course materials are divided into weekly modules which can be accessed by clicking Modules on the left menu. A module will have several sections including the overview, readings, lectures, discussion, quiz, and assignments. You are encouraged to preview all sections of the module before starting. Each module runs for a period of seven (7) days.  You should regularly check the Announcements for updates regarding due dates, changes to the schedule, and reminders for upcoming events.

Course Topics

Course Goals

To develop a basic understanding of human physiology from an engineering perspective in order to facilitate work in biomedical engineering.

Course Learning Outcomes (CLOs)


Optional (not required), but recommended as a helpful resource:

Boron, W.F., & Boulpaep, E.L. (2021). Concise Medical Physiology.  Elsevier.  ISBN-13: 978-0323655309

Textbook information for this course is available online through the appropriate bookstore website.  For online courses, search the BNC bookstore (https://bncvirtual.com/vb_home.php?FVCUSNO=36172&url=jhu-ep.htm) or the EP website (https://ep.jhu.edu/courses/)

Student Coursework Requirements

It is expected that each module will take approximately 8-10 hours per week to complete. Here is an estimated breakdown: listening to the video lectures (~3 hours per week), participating in the discussion (~1 hour per week), taking the quiz (~15 min per week), completing assignments (2-3 hours per week), and working on research projects (2-3 hours per week).

This course will consist of the following basic student requirements:

Preparation: Quizzes (11% of Final Grade Calculation)

Each module will have a short, online quiz that you must complete as part of your grade.  The quizzes are designed to permit you to self-assess your knowledge on the topics that are covered and will help you prepare for the exams.  You are responsible for carefully for viewing the video lectures and being prepared for discussion and assignments; the quizzes are a tool to help evaluate your level of preparation.  Students must receive a score of 90% or better on the module quizzes before access will be granted to the assignment for the module.

Participation: Instructor Conference, Discussions (14% of Final Grade Calculation)

Instructor conference (3% of Final Grade Calculation): Early in the semester, you will be asked to sign-up for a one-on-one conference with the instructor (via Zoom) to ensure that you have appropriate expectations about time management and study strategies and organization.  This will prepare you for how to approach learning through the course and will help develop a line of communication with the instructor to foster future interactions.

Discussions (11% of Final Grade Calculation): You are required to participate in a discussion forum during each module, which includes writing an initial post in response to a discussion prompt AND commenting on postings by two (2) other classmates. Unless otherwise instructed, you will need to 1) post your initial response to the discussion prompt by the end of either day 3 or day 4 of that module week (specific deadline information is posted in each module), following any guidelines posted for that module’s discussion forum; and 2) post your comments on 2 other classmates’ responses by the end of day 7 of that module week.  In your comments to other students, please keep your tone collegial and civil.  It is fine to agree or disagree (or something else entirely), but please do so with professionalism and courtesy.  A great way to frame a comment on someone else’s post is to name something you found interesting or thought-provoking about their post and then ask a follow-up question.  The instructor will monitor module discussions and will respond to discussion threads as needed. Together, your initial posting and your comments on classmates’ postings help to drive an interactive discussion environment in what can otherwise become an isolating online course experience.

Discussions are the only formal opportunity for students to interact with each other in a semi-synchronous manner; late postings or comments miss the time window when other students will be tuned in and ready to exchange ideas.  Accordingly, there will be a 10% deduction for each day that an initial post is late; any discussion components that are posted after the end of day 7 of a given module will not receive any creditAt the end of the semester, the lowest discussion grade will be dropped before calculation of the final course grade.

Assignments (25% of Final Grade Calculation)

Assignments for each module will include a mix of qualitative assignments (e.g. essay questions, case study analysis, etc.) and quantitative problem sets.  Each problem should have all relevant assumptions, calculations, and conclusions clearly delineated. All figures and tables should be captioned and labeled appropriately. Assignments must be submitted in PDF format. Unless otherwise indicated, each assignment is due by 11:59 p.m. (Eastern time) on day 7 of the module.  On each assignment submission, your words & work must be your own.  Any violations will be treated as a breach of academic integrity.

If an assignment is submitted late, it will receive a late penalty of 1 letter grade (10%) deduction for each week late, up to 2 weeks late.  Any assignments submitted more than 2 weeks late will receive a zero (0) grade. At the end of the semester, the lowest assignment grade will be dropped before calculation of the final course grade.

Qualitative assignments

Qualitative assignments are evaluated by the following grading elements:

Qualitative assignments are graded as follows:

Quantitative assignments

Quantitative assignments are evaluated by the following grading elements:

Quantitative assignments are graded as follows:

Research Projects (25% of Final Grade Calculation)

Students will complete 2 research projects in this course.  For Research Project 1 (runs Modules 1-6), students will work independently to research a clinical condition of their choosing that relates to a system or topic that is covered during the semester.  Students will submit 3 deliverables: an introduction of and background on the condition, a summary of current pharmacological and device-oriented interventions employed to treat the condition, and an analysis of the shortcomings of current treatment modalities.  For Research Project 2 (runs Modules 7-12), students will work collaboratively (in groups) to research a device intervention of their choosing that relates to a clinical condition of a physiological system that is covered during the semester.  Students will submit 3 deliverables: an introduction to and background on the device, a brief history of the device’s development and application up to the present day, and an analysis of the device’s shortcomings where there is room for future development and improvement.  The grades from all 6 submitted deliverables will cumulatively account for 25% of the Final Grade Calculation.  For more details on the scope, requirements, expectations, grading, deadlines, and formatting required for individual project deliverables, please consult the weekly research project specifics (posted in each module) as well as the overview documents for Course Project 1 and Course Project 2 (posted in Course Information).  Research deliverables must be submitted in PDF format.  Although these are research projects and thus involve reading other people’s writing, your words & work must be your own.  Any violations will be treated as a breach of academic integrity.

Exams (25% of Final Grade Calculation, average of 3 exams)

You will take 3 exams in this course.  Exam 1 covers material from Modules 1-4 and will be administered in Module 5; Exam 2 covers material from Modules 6-9 and will be administered in Module 10; and Exam 3 covers material from Modules 11-13 and will be administered in Module 14.  Each exam will be made available in Canvas to students from day 3 to day 7 of the exam module.  You will have 2 hours to complete each exam, which will consist of a combination of objective questions (multiple choice, matching, etc.) and problem-solving/short answer questions.  Any additional details will be sent out during the semester prior to each exam.

You must not receive any outside help on any of the exams, and your words & work must be your own.  Any violations will be treated as a breach of academic integrity. 

Exams are evaluated by the following grading elements:

Exams are graded as follows: 

Grading Policy

EP uses a +/- grading system (see “Grading System”, Graduate Programs catalog, p. 10).

Score RangeLetter Grade
100-97= A+
96-93= A
92-90= A−
89-87= B+
86-83= B
82-80= B−
79-77= C+
76-73= C
72-70= C−
69-67= D+
66-63= D
<63= F

Academic Policies

Deadlines for Adding, Dropping and Withdrawing from Courses

Students may add a course up to one week after the start of the term for that particular course. Students may drop courses according to the drop deadlines outlined in the EP academic calendar (https://ep.jhu.edu/student-services/academic-calendar/). Between the 6th week of the class and prior to the final withdrawal deadline, a student may withdraw from a course with a W on their academic record. A record of the course will remain on the academic record with a W appearing in the grade column to indicate that the student registered and withdrew from the course.

Academic Misconduct Policy

All students are required to read, know, and comply with the Johns Hopkins University Krieger School of Arts and Sciences (KSAS) / Whiting School of Engineering (WSE) Procedures for Handling Allegations of Misconduct by Full-Time and Part-Time Graduate Students.

This policy prohibits academic misconduct, including but not limited to the following: cheating or facilitating cheating; plagiarism; reuse of assignments; unauthorized collaboration; alteration of graded assignments; and unfair competition. Course materials (old assignments, texts, or examinations, etc.) should not be shared unless authorized by the course instructor. Any questions related to this policy should be directed to EP’s academic integrity officer at ep-academic-integrity@jhu.edu.

Students with Disabilities - Accommodations and Accessibility

Johns Hopkins University values diversity and inclusion. We are committed to providing welcoming, equitable, and accessible educational experiences for all students. Students with disabilities (including those with psychological conditions, medical conditions and temporary disabilities) can request accommodations for this course by providing an Accommodation Letter issued by Student Disability Services (SDS). Please request accommodations for this course as early as possible to provide time for effective communication and arrangements.

For further information or to start the process of requesting accommodations, please contact Student Disability Services at Engineering for Professionals, ep-disability-svcs@jhu.edu.

Student Conduct Code

The fundamental purpose of the JHU regulation of student conduct is to promote and to protect the health, safety, welfare, property, and rights of all members of the University community as well as to promote the orderly operation of the University and to safeguard its property and facilities. As members of the University community, students accept certain responsibilities which support the educational mission and create an environment in which all students are afforded the same opportunity to succeed academically. 

For a full description of the code please visit the following website: https://studentaffairs.jhu.edu/policies-guidelines/student-code/

Classroom Climate

JHU is committed to creating a classroom environment that values the diversity of experiences and perspectives that all students bring. Everyone has the right to be treated with dignity and respect. Fostering an inclusive climate is important. Research and experience show that students who interact with peers who are different from themselves learn new things and experience tangible educational outcomes. At no time in this learning process should someone be singled out or treated unequally on the basis of any seen or unseen part of their identity. 
If you have concerns in this course about harassment, discrimination, or any unequal treatment, or if you seek accommodations or resources, please reach out to the course instructor directly. Reporting will never impact your course grade. You may also share concerns with your program chair, the Assistant Dean for Diversity and Inclusion, or the Office of Institutional Equity. In handling reports, people will protect your privacy as much as possible, but faculty and staff are required to officially report information for some cases (e.g. sexual harassment).

Course Auditing

When a student enrolls in an EP course with “audit” status, the student must reach an understanding with the instructor as to what is required to earn the “audit.” If the student does not meet those expectations, the instructor must notify the EP Registration Team [EP-Registration@exchange.johnshopkins.edu] in order for the student to be retroactively dropped or withdrawn from the course (depending on when the "audit" was requested and in accordance with EP registration deadlines). All lecture content will remain accessible to auditing students, but access to all other course material is left to the discretion of the instructor.