College of Veterinary Medicine


VCM 507 - Veterinary Form and Function

Contact Information

Instructor: Dr. Antonio Leonardi and Dr. Suzanna Storms
Phone: 217-333-0418

Course Description

The course includes an overview of relevant veterinary microbiology and the interaction between microbes and their hosts. The course will build upon knowledge acquired in VCM 506, and relevant physiology pertaining to disease prevalence, prevention, and pathology will be discussed. The host immune system will be highlighted, and important bacteria, viruses and fungi will be studied. Current and emerging pathogens, and the relevance of potential zoonotic spillovers into human populations will be discussion points. Discussion boards will be posted each week to integrate concepts and drive discussion based on the weekly topic.

Weekly quizzes, discussion boards, exams, and one final exam will be assessed for a final grade in the class.

Course Goals

Students will have the foundational knowledge in anatomy and physiology, with an introduction to case-based thinking to apply when assessing herd health at the systems level as required in approved courses for the Master of Veterinary Science degree and the Animal Health Science Graduate Certificate.

Learning Objectives

Upon successful completion of this course, students will be able to:

  • Identify anatomical structures in different body systems, and summarize similarities and differences between species.
  • Identify and explain normal physiological systems in domestic animal species.
  • Predict which body systems are abnormal with case-based discussions.

Course Topics

  • Module 1 - Cardiovascular/Pulmonary Systems
    • Respiratory System Structure and Organization
    • Cardiovascular Structure and Organization
    • Respiratory Physiology
    • Cardiovascular Physiology and Accessory Organs
    • Comparative Cardiovascular Physiology 
    • Comparative Pulmonary Physiology
  • Module 2 - Gastrointestinal Systems
    • Introduction to Gastrointestinal Tract Structure and Function
    • Regulation of Gastrointestinal Function
    • Functions and Motility of Organs of the Upper Gastrointestinal Tract 
    • Lower Gastrointestinal Function and Secretion
    • Comparative Gastrointestinal  Physiology
  • Module 3 - Renal
    • Renal Structure and Organization
    • Glomerular Filtration Rate and Reabsorption
    • The Regulation of NaCl and Water Reabsorption
    • Comparative Renal  Physiology
  • Module 4 - Nervous/Brain Anatomy
    • Introduction to the Nervous System
    • The Neuron and Its Support 
    • Forebrain Structure and Function
    • Midbrain Structure and Function
    • Hindbrain Structure and Function
    • Parasympathetic Divisions of the Autonomic Nervous System
    • Reflexes, Balance, and Movement
    • Comparative Neuroanatomy and Physiology
  • Module 5 - Reproductive
    • Overview of the Structure of the Reproductive Tracts
    • The Male Reproductive Tract
    • Reproductive Cyclicity 
    • Female Reproductive Tract
    • Hormones of the Reproductive System
    • Comparative Reproductive Biology
  • Module 6 - Integumentary
    • Integumentary Form and Function
    • Integumentary Structures
    • Integumentary Comparative Anatomy and Physiology
  • Module 7 - Metabolism and Endocrine
    • Introduction to Endocrine Homeostasis 
    • Energy and Electrolytes
    • Endocrine Glands - Thyroid, Parathyroid, and Pancreas
  • Module 8 - Clinical Case and Course Review

Mode of Teaching

This course is fully online using Canvas ( ). The content will be presented as text, videos, and other media. The course covers the same amount of material that would be expected if the class were a traditional campus-based course. Due to the nature of online learning, students must be diligent about their learning, engaging often and actively.

We use a software solution called ZOOM for online meetings. Students may join from PC, Mac, Linux, iOS or Android or call by telephone. The meeting link or telephone number will be provided after the meeting is scheduled (International numbers available at this link to join a meeting. A webcam is preferred for easier communication.

Course Requirements

Required Textbooks

  • There is no required textbook. Reading assignments will come from journal articles, international organization standards and guidelines (e.g., World Organization for Animal Health, World Health Organization), University of Illinois Library access e-books, and technical documents.

Technical Requirements

Knowledge of and operation of a computer is the students’ personal responsibility. You will need:

  • A Reliable Device.
  • High-Speed Internet Connection: e.g. DSL or Cable.
  • Supported Web Browser: e.g. a recent version of Google Chrome, Firefox, or Safari. 
  • Access Microsoft Office 365 (Net ID and password needed) & have Adobe Acrobat Reader installed.
  • Minimum Technical Skills: At a minimum, students must possess the ability to navigate Blackboard. This includes accessing course content, posting to a discussion board, and completing online assignments, quizzes, self-assessments, and exams.
  • More information on the hardware and software requirements can be found at