Core Skills Assignment Instructions
These 3 assignments will be due on the Friday of weeks 4, 7 and 11, respectively, at 11:59pm Pacific
time. Please answer the questions below, using 750-1200 words for each question (excluding references
or other material). This means the total length of each Core Skills Assignment must be at least 1500
words (750 minimum per question x 2 questions) – length penalties specified in the rubric are applied on a
per-question basis, so writing more on one question does not make up for being under length on the
other. Use complete sentences throughout, adhering to scientific writing standards and communicating at
a professional level for an audience of clinicians.
Make sure to address all parts of each question. Citations are not required unless you are making
assertions that require outside evidence to substantiate (e.g. effect sizes from a nutritional intervention,
other items that are not assumed knowledge for graduates of this program). For each assignment (#1, #2,
#3), provide your answers in a single Word document (.doc or .docx) submitted to the file upload page
posted in the appropriate week in the course.
Note: the originality of your work will be carefully evaluated. Please make absolutely certain that you
have not taken phrases, sentence structure or whole sentences from any other source or author (or from
your own past work in other courses).
Assignment 1 (due Friday of week 4 at 11:59pm PT):
1. What are the major elements (nodes, aka core clinical imbalances) of the functional medicine
matrix? For each node, explain its importance to human health and disease. Describe a
disease/condition that arises primarily from an imbalance within that node: how does this
imbalance cause/contribute to the disease? For each disease/condition, describe a nutritionfocused treatment that targets that node: how does its mechanism of action connect with the
clinical imbalance/node that characterizes the disease?
2. Describe the underlying features and characteristics that health-promoting whole food diets tend
to have in common. Give three examples of health-promoting whole food diets, describing their
key features in detail. Explain how they are similar and how they are different from one another
using specific examples and descriptions. How would you select one of these diets to recommend
for a patient or client?
Assignment 2 (due Friday of week 7 at 11:59pm PT):
1. Define the term “mitochondrial dysfunction” and describe in detail the changes at the
mitochondrial, cellular and organism level that characterize this state. What factors contribute to
the development of mitochondrial dysfunction? Name two conditions or diseases that involve
mitochondrial dysfunction and explain the mitochondrial component of those conditions/diseases.
What diet, supplementation and lifestyle recommendations would you consider for a patient/client
with mitochondrial dysfunction and why?
2. Inflammation contributes to cardiometabolic diseases (including atherosclerosis, myocardial
infarction, obesity, and insulin resistance) and systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), but with
significantly different clinical manifestations. Select one of the cardiometabolic diseases listed
above and describe the pathways by which inflammation causes/perpetuates that disease versus
inflammation’s involvement in SLE, comparing and contrasting the involved physiological
processes. What anti-inflammatory strategies are appropriate to manage each of these
conditions? Include specific recommendations for both diet and supplementation, describing how
your strategies would differ for the cardiometabolic disease you selected versus SLE.
Assignment 3 (due Friday of week 11 at 11:59pm PT):
1. Describe a functional medicine approach to the assessment and management of hypothyroidism.
What laboratory evaluations would you rely on? What laboratory and clinical findings would
suggest subclinical versus overt hypothyroidism? What diet, supplementation and lifestyle
recommendations would you consider for a patient/client with hypothyroidism and why?
2. Describe the use of an elimination diet as a tool for addressing chronic health conditions,
including the following elements:
a. What is the general purpose of an elimination diet? What does it include and exclude?
b. How would you instruct a patient/client to implement this diet? What are the major
milestones and over what time periods do they occur?
c. What types of conditions benefit most from an elimination diet?
d. What physiological/biochemical changes are expected after an elimination diet program
is successfully completed?