HNE-23306 Pharmacology and Nutrition


Credits 6.00

Teaching methodContact hours
Individual Paper
Group work6
Course coordinator(s)prof. dr. RF Witkamp
Lecturer(s)prof. dr. RF Witkamp
Examiner(s)prof. dr. RF Witkamp
dr. J Meijerink

Language of instruction:


Assumed knowledge on:

HAP-10306 Principles of Human Physiology; HAP-21303 Integrated Human Physiology.

Continuation courses:

HNE-34806 Applied Nutrigenomics and HNE-39306 Pharmacological Aspects of Nutrition.


Traditionally, nutrition has been dealing with maintaining health and the prevention of deficiencies. Pharmacotherapy on the other hand usually starts with some form of disease, trauma, or at least a medical complaint. However, the borders between both disciplines are not always clear, and even tend to dissolve. Functional foods and medicines can both be applied to prevent diseases, and medical treatment may involve dietary intervention. This course will introduce the basic concepts of pharmacology and the different classes of medicinal compounds that are in use. Differences and similarities between drugs, nutrients and dietary supplements will be addressed, as well as the way these are discovered and developed into products. Attention will also be given to the consequences of drug formulation for the dose-regimen and effect(s). Examples from clinical therapy will be used to illustrate pharmacotherapy. Finally, the interaction between nutrients and drugs will be studied.

Learning outcomes:

After this course the student is expected:
- to understand the basic principles of pharmacology and to explain the general mechanisms of action of the most important classes of medicines;
- to be able to perform basic calculations on the behaviour of drugs in the body (pharmacokinetics) and to estimate dosing schedules based on these calculations;
- to understand and explain how the formulation of an active compound can influence its effects and side-effects;
- to be able to explain the differences and similarities between drugs (medicines), dietary supplements and functional foods in terms of their legal status and use;
- to have a basic knowledge on pharmacological methods and the way medicines are being discovered and developed;
- to understand how molecular nutrition research can benefit from the principles of target identification as developed in pharmacological research;
- to understand and explain the major mechanisms of food-drug interactions;
- to be able to interpret a drug package leaflet;
- to be able to form an opinion on a food supplement or dietary intervention strategy with a health claim, and to evaluate its role in the prevention or treatment of a disease from a nutritional and pharmacological point of view;
- to use and evaluate (sources of-) information on medicines and food supplements that are made available through the internet.


The course will contain several parts:
- 24 lectures;
- 4 tutorials (of half a day each);
- 1 E-learning module on immunopharmacology;
- 2 group assignments about a food-supplement and a drug, respectively;
- organised feed-back and self-assessment sessions.


Final mark is based on individual written exam with open and multiple choice questions. In addition, active participation in 2 group reports plus presentations needs to be of at least sufficient level.
If the judgment on the food supplement case study is excellent 4% extra points can be earned on top of the written exam result. Presence during some course activities indicated as compulsory in the detailed course schedule published on Blackboard required.


Course reader will be available at the WUR-shop, Forum.
Rang, H.P. ; Ritter; Flower and Henderson (2015). Rang & Dales Pharmacology. 8th edition . Churchill Livingstoner. Book ISBN : 978070205362 .

Compulsory for: BVGNutrition and HealthBSc3WD
Restricted Optional for: MBTBiotechnologyMScC: Medical Biotechnology3WD
Restricted Optional for: WUNHEBSc Minor Nutrition and Health3WD
WUHAHBSc Minor Healthy Aging in Humans and Model Species3WD
WUCHMBSc Minor Chemical Sciences3WD