Graduate degrees: M.S. in molecular physiology and biophysics; Ph.D. in molecular physiology and biophysics

The Department of Molecular Physiology and Biophysics offers graduate study leading to the Master of Science and Doctor of Philosophy degrees. It participates in interdisciplinary graduate programs, including the Medical Scientist Training Program, a joint M.D./Ph.D. program offered by the Graduate College and the Carver College of Medicine, and it provides instruction in molecular physiology and biophysics for M.D., D.D.S., and other health professions students. The department also conducts a co-op exchange, a vigorous training program that gives undergraduate students the opportunity to develop as independent researchers in preparation for graduate studies.

The department's principal research areas include cell biology, genetics, endocrinology, neuroscience, and membrane physiology and biophysics. The unifying theme is the understanding of signal transduction mechanisms involved in regulating function at the cellular and molecular levels.


Faculty research interests in the Department of Molecular Physiology and Biophysics encompass molecular and cellular endocrinology, cellular and developmental neurophysiology, and membrane structure and function. Within these, there are multiple areas of interest, including hormone receptors, reproductive endocrinology, signal transduction, regulation of gene expression, synaptic transmission, neuronal differentiation, membrane ion channels, regulation of excitability, and cardiovascular electrophysiology and regulation. Experimental models currently being investigated include rodents, yeast, Drosophila, and cultured cell lines from a variety of species.

Two floors of the Bowen Science Building are devoted to research and teaching in the Department of Molecular Physiology and Biophysics. Department faculty members also occupy laboratory facilities in the Medical Education Research Facility, Pappajohn Biomedical Discovery Building, and the Carver Biomedical Research Building. In addition to specialized equipment in faculty research laboratories, the department provides equipment for fluorescence microscopy, isotope analysis, cell culture, and molecular biology. It also has access to the University network and the multimedia education facilities. Additional resources are available at the Hardin Library for the Health Sciences.

Molecular Physiology and Biophysics Courses

MPB:4199 Research, Independent Studyarr.

Recommendations: closed to molecular physiology and biophysics graduate students.

MPB:4753 Developmental Neurobiology3 s.h.

Neural induction and nervous system patterning; neurogenesis, axon and dendrite outgrowth and targeting; synapse formation, specificity, refinement; mechanisms of neuronal cell death; myelination; neural stem cells; introduction to cellular, molecular, and genetic techniques in studies of neural development. Prerequisites: BIOL:2753 with a minimum grade of C-. Corequisites: BIOL:3253. Same as BIOL:4753, NSCI:4753.

MPB:5153 Graduate Physiology4 s.h.

Principles of human physiology, organ systems, cell function. Offered fall semesters. Requirements: grades of C- or higher in BIOL:1411 and CHEM:2210 and CHEM:2220, and graduate standing.

MPB:5180 How the Brain Works1 s.h.

Brief, integrated look at how the brain works, based on recent neuroscience research; how the brain's biochemistry, anatomy, and physiology change constantly due to interaction with physical, emotional, and social environments; does the world we see around us exist outside the brain; does the mind exist; is emotion necessary for learning and memory; are we born with pre-existing circuits and codes in the brain for language, recognition of faces, and other complex behaviors; can aging of the brain be delayed; approach relevant for sciences, humanities.

MPB:5200 Medical Physiology Online5 s.h.

Fundamental principles of cellular membranes, muscle, sensory organs, motor neurological systems, autonomic nervous systems, cardiovascular, pulmonary, renal, gastrointestinal, endocrine, and reproductive systems; interdependence of organ systems to maintain a normal physiological state using clinical correlates as applied to humans; basic physiological principles that establish a solid foundation for future pathophysiological and pharmacological concepts. Recommendations: medical, dental, physician assistant, nurse anesthesia, physical therapy, or graduate standing.

MPB:5211 Biophysics of Excitable Membranes3 s.h.

Selected electrophysiological and biophysical topics from published research. Prerequisites: HHP:3500.

MPB:5240 Physiology Workshop1 s.h.

Presentations by faculty, postdoctoral fellows, graduate students, and scientists.

MPB:5241 Neuromuscular Diseases: Case-Based Seminar1 s.h.

MPB:6209 Steroid Receptor Signaling1 s.h.

Structure-function relationship and genomic and nongenomic actions of the steroid hormone receptor family; basis for actions of novel new ligands on these receptors. Offered spring semesters. Same as NSCI:6209, PCOL:6209.

MPB:6220 Mechanisms of Cellular Organization3 s.h.

Current understanding of basic cell biological processes; key experiments that led to guiding insights; mechanisms that cells use for compartmentalization and how those mechanisms are regulated; biogenesis of major organelles (e.g., mitochondria, peroxisomes, nucleus, secretory/endocytic membrane system); functions of cytoskeleton in cell motility, organelle motility, and cell division. Prerequisites: BIOC:3130. Same as ACB:6220, MCB:6220.

MPB:6225 Growth Factor Receptor Signaling1 s.h.

Mechanisms of signaling by growth factors; cytokines and related molecules that regulate cell proliferation, development, differentiation, and survival; emphasis on molecular mechanisms of signaling, relevance of these signaling processes to various human diseases. Recommendations: BISC:5201 and BISC:5203. Same as ACB:6225, MCB:6225.

MPB:6226 Cell Cycle Control1 s.h.

Cell cycle regulation, DNA damage-dependent cell cycle regulation, redox-dependent cell cycle regulation, cellular senescence. Recommendations: BISC:5201 and BISC:5203. Same as ACB:6226, MCB:6226.

MPB:6227 Cell Fate Decisions1 s.h.

Cellular fate decisions, including signal integration, terminal differentiation in development, mechanisms of embryonic stem cell gene regulation/cellular reprogramming, cell death paradigms, and cell death in development and cancer. Recommendations: BISC:5201 and BISC:5203. Same as ACB:6227, MCB:6227.

MPB:6265 Neuroscience Seminar0-1 s.h.

Research presentations. Offered fall and spring semesters. Same as ACB:6265, BIOL:6265, NSCI:6265, PSY:6265.

MPB:6302 Research Physiology and Biophysicsarr.

Requirements: molecular physiology and biophysics graduate standing.

MPB:7402 Thesisarr.

Requirements: molecular physiology and biophysics Ph.D. candidacy.

MPB:8115 Human Physiology for Dental Students4 s.h.

Principles of human physiology, organ systems, cell function. Offered fall semesters. Requirements: grades of C- or higher in BIOL:1411, CHEM:2210, and CHEM:2220; and D.D.S. enrollment.