UTHSC Department of Physiology Ranks Fourth Nationwide

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The Physiology Department at UTHSC is ranked fourth in the nation for 2009 by the Association of Chairs of Departments of Physiology, an affiliate of the American Physiological Society.

The Physiology Department at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center (UTHSC) is ranked fourth in the nation for 2009 by the Association of Chairs of Departments of Physiology, an affiliate of the American Physiological Society. The department’s high ranking is the result of a survey based on data from 15 private and 36 public medical schools. This year’s survey is published in the June issue of The Physiologist.

The UTHSC Department of Physiology has consistently ranked in the top 15 among its competitors nationally, but this year, it moved up three rankings from seventh to fourth. “The new ranking is a testimony to the innovation in the department,” said Hershel P. Wall, MD, chancellor of UTHSC. “It is extremely gratifying that our Physiology Department is increasingly viewed by its peers as one of the top research and teaching programs in the country. The department is an important piece of a much larger and growing research enterprise.”

To keep the department competitive, Gabor Tigyi, MD, PhD, professor and chair of the UTHSC Department of Physiology, strives to generate an ongoing stream of outside funding sources. With a total budget of $14,072,936, the Physiology Department has produced $9,043,448 in research dollars through funded grant proposals. “Our high ranking is an awesome achievement for us, especially since federal grant funding levels are at a historic low and economic conditions at state-funded institutions are so challenging,” said Dr. Tigyi.

The department consists of an 18-member faculty who excel, not only in research, but also in teaching and service to the university. Major research areas include vascular biology, electrophysiology, corneal research, respiratory epithelial biology and gastrointestinal mucosal biology. The research combines whole animal studies with investigations conducted at cellular and sub-cellular levels using cutting-edge molecular techniques. Faculty, postdoctoral fellows, technicians, students and support staff bring the total department membership to about 100. During the summer, this number increases to more than 130 as the team is joined by high school and college students participating in several special programs, as well as by medical students conducting summer research projects. The UTHSC Department of Physiology (http://physio1.uthsc.edu) teaches programs of study in physiology to students enrolled in the UTHSC colleges of Medicine and Dentistry, and offers an interdisciplinary graduate curriculum to teach basic science courses such as cell biology. Additionally, the department maintains the Memphis Educational Computer Connectivity Alliance (MECCA) program, an effort to provide network infrastructure for high school summer science classes and senior citizen community centers. This successful program is supported by the National Science Foundation.