Course Descriptions

Elective Physiology Courses offered at Meharry Medical College:
PHYS 702 Human Physiology (will be replaced by Physiology I & II)
PHYS 707 Endocrinology/Gastrointestinal Physiology
PHYS 720 Readings in Physiology
PHYS 710 Cardiovascular Physiology
PHYS (TBA) Cell Signaling (in development)
PHYS (TBA) Central Regulation of Autonomic Function (in development)
PHYS (TBA) Ion Channels in Excitable Cell Membranes (in development)
PHYS (TBA) Tutorials in Scientific Development (in development)


PHYS (TBA) PHYSIOLOGY I.   This course will cover cell physiology including excitable cells, the autonomic nervous system, muscle, and cardiovascular, pulmonary, and renal organ systems. The format of the course will include lectures, discussion sessions, and student presentations. Grades will be assigned based on student participation, presentations, and performances on examinations. 3 credit hours, FALL.

PHYS (TBA) PHYSIOLOGY II.   This course will cover the gastrointestinal, endocrinology, and reproductive system. The format of the course will include lectures, discussion sessions, and student presentations. Grades will be assigned based on student participation, presentations, and performances on examinations.
3 credit hours, SPRING.

PHYS (TBA) CELLULAR SIGNALING.  This course discusses various receptor systems, protein kinases, signaling through G-proteins and cyclic nucleotides, calcium and lipid-derived second messengers, signaling by transcription factors, and redox-dependent signaling. Contemporary research activities that provide fundamental understanding of cell signaling are highlighted, using the primary literature as course material. With paradigms such as angiogenesis, cell-cycle function, oncogenesis, gene expression, etc., the course also discusses cellular signaling in the context of disease and/or therapeutic approaches to resolution of disease processes. 3 credits, SPRING. Prerequisite: CORE CURRICULUM or consent of instructor.

PHYS (TBA) TUTORIALS IN SCIENTIFIC DEVELOPMENT. Programmed professional development skills courses/workshops designed to provide students opportunity for developing skills in such areas as scientific presentations for in-house and national conferences, fellowship/grant applications writing, writing and critiquing manuscripts. This course will also provide opportunities to expose students to scientific career options. Students must register for this course every semester beginning in year 02. 1 credit hour, SUMMER.

PHYS 712 SEMINARS IN PHYSIOLOGY.  Topics relevant to physiology will be presented by faculty, visiting scholars, and graduate students. Participating graduate students who have achieved candidacy status will present one seminar per year.  This course is required for all graduate students studying for the Ph.D. degree in physiology. Attendance is mandatory to receive a satisfactory grade. FALL and SPRING Semesters (Satisfactory/Unsatisfactory). 

PHYS 714 RESEARCH IN PHYSIOLOGY.  Research opportunities are available from the molecular to systems level physiology on contemporary problems in cardiovascular disease, endocrine, and neuroscience. Students will participate in experimental design, research, data analysis, and data reporting. Prior approval of supervising faculty member and department chairperson is required. Students will receive satisfactory or unsatisfactory grades until degree requirements have been fulfilled.  FALL/SPRING/SUMMER (Satisfactory/Unsatisfactory).

PHYS 721  DISSERTATION RESEARCH.  This is a practical course in assembling, analyzing, and presenting large quantities of experimental data. Students are expected to register for this course in their last semester of residence. Course is completed with the approval of the written dissertation by the COI. Last semester of residence (3 credit hours). 

PHYS (TBA) CENTRAL REGULATION OF AUTONOMIC FUNCTION. This course will allow students to explore contemporary findings in how the central nervous system participates in regulating homeostasis including its interactions with the endocrine system.  Discussions will also focus on methods used to interrogate this complex system. Textbook readings are supplemented by assigned readings from primary literature. 3 credits.

PHYS 702 HUMAN PHYSIOLOGY. This course covers the function and regulation of the major organ systems of the body. The format of the course will include lectures, discussion sessions, and student presentations. Grades will be assigned based on student participation, presentations, and performances on examinations.  4 credits.

PHYS (TBA) ION CHANNELS IN EXCITABLE CELL MEMBRANES. In this course, students will be introduced to excitable membranes, which are membranes that carry information via electrical means. All neurons of the central, somatic, autonomic, and enteric nervous systems, and all muscle cell types (skeletal, cardiac, and smooth) contain excitable membranes. Ion channels are pores in the cell membrane and are the most fundamental elements in the excitable membrane. This course has three major parts. The first part introduces the general principles and properties of the excitable membranes. The second part inquires into the underlying mechanism of channel function and shows how physical theory can be applied. The third part presents an overview of main channel families and their role in cell biology. 3 credit hours.

PHYS 707 ENDOCRINOLOGY/GASTROINTESTINAL PHYSIOLOGY. This course extends the knowledge base of Endocrine and Gastrointestinal Physiology gained in Human Physiology (PHYS 702).  Thus, it will explore the historical and current literature to provide a solid base of knowledge and enable the students to interpret scientific data and critique experimental design as it relates to endocrine and gastrointestinal physiology. In addition, there will be a number of laboratories in which the structure and microanatomy of the endocrine and gastrointestinal tissues are examined in relationship to function. Advanced concepts and the impact of current research will be emphasized. Grades will be determined by student participation, examinations, and a review paper. 4 credit hours.

PHYS 720 READINGS IN PHYSIOLOGY AND BIOLOGY.  In this course, the student should complete a comprehensive reading list of subjects specifically associated with his/her area of research. There will be no formal meetings or exam but a review article may be required. This course may be taken only once for credit. 3 credit hours, ALL SEMESTERS.

PHYS 710 CARDIOVASCULAR PHYSIOLOGY. This course will start out with basic biophysics of ion channels in cardiac muscle, discuss the role of calcium in contraction, and describe the heart as a pump in determining the general dynamics of cardiac function. Hemodynamics of flow and microcirculation will be dealt with in a manner that takes into account the vascular reactivity. The interplay of various regulatory mechanisms in blood flow and pressure control and interplay of regional circulatory beds and local vascular reactivity in such control will be discussed. The second half of the course will introduce the contractile mechanisms of vascular smooth muscle cells, their neuro-hormonal regulation, endothelial cell control of vascular tone, oxidative stress, and vascular functions. Separately, molecular studies in hypo, hyper, and normotensive mice (the implications in human), ischemic heart disease and congestive heart failure, implications in diabetes, endocrine disorders (risk factors in African-American population), and the role of nutrition and behavior in such diseases will constitute an important part of this segment. Student presentations of recent and important literatures on these subjects, a mid-term examination, and a final paper will determine the grade. 3 credit hours.