University of Wisconsin–Madison

Welcome to the Physiology Training Program!

Be a Part of Our Research Success

Physiology has been a degree on the UW-Madison campus since 1923 and became an interdisciplinary program in 2011. Our program is interdisciplinary in its approach to scientific research. Powerful new tools in modern biology make it possible to link the cellular and molecular with integrative levels in physiological systems, the cardiovascular, respiratory, renal, endocrine, neurophysiological, gastrointestinal, musculoskeletal and metabolic systems. This program provides doctoral training in mechanistic studies that use these new tools to study the functions of molecules, cells, tissues, and organ systems in preparation for careers in biomedical research, biotechnology, and academic teaching. By encompassing a broad range of research areas, students gain an appreciation of how organ systems work together while focusing on a specific topic of research. Current areas of study, represented by our student research, include:

Cellular Neurophysiology: voltage-gated ion channels, ligand-gated ion channels, mechanoelectrical transduction, synaptic transmission, neuronal circuits

Central Nervous System: vision, balance, and multisensory integration in awake behaving animals and humans, motivation and reward in feeding behavior

Cardio-Pulmonary, Muscle, and Gut: basis of cardiac hypertrophy, long-term physiological consequences of premature birth, consequences of exercise on muscle function in aging, molecular signals in intestinal atresias.

Cancer Biology & Mitosis: DNA repair and checkpoint regulation, role of herpes viruses in cancers

Students learn through lecture courses, seminar courses, seminars by speakers from campus and from other institutions, journal clubs and, most importantly, from their research mentors. Students in this program are encouraged to interact with other training programs and research centers to broaden their knowledge and experience. Gaining expertise in public speaking is an important component of the program.

Students enter the program in the fall and rotate through three laboratories to identify a research mentor. In the first two years they conduct research while completing classwork. A preliminary exam that comprises two parts assures that students are ready to become dissertators. Over the following two to three years students are intensively involved in research. They learn to present their results orally in local seminars and at out of town meetings, and to write and publish research papers. When students have accomplished significant research they are encouraged to write a thesis and to defend their work. This training prepares students for careers in biomedical research, biotechnology, and academic teaching.