Cellular and Integrative Physiology



Degrees Offered

  • Doctor of Philosophy
  • Joint Doctor of Medicine and Doctor of Philosophy

Physiology is a dynamic life science that focuses on the study of biological systems at many levels of complexity, ranging from genes and molecules to cells and organisms. Thus, training in physiology has the ultimate goal of linking molecular and cellular information to functional outcomes. Currently, groundbreaking research and discovery in the life sciences are more interdisciplinary than ever, and students studying within the realm of physiology can expect to work with a wide range of scientists, including pharmacologists who are focused in a complementary field: namely, the study of how drugs affect biological systems and how biological systems affect drugs.

The goal of the doctoral program in Cellular and Integrative Physiology is to engage students in creating a new approach to the life sciences, with the aim of explaining how the higher-level properties of complex systems appear from the interactions amongst their parts and environmental inputs. Our program provides a multidisciplinary approach to modern life sciences, drawing on faculty expertise from several departments and centers in the Schools of Medicine and Pharmacy.

Completion of the Ph.D. degree is realized when the student publishes at least one original, peer-reviewed manuscript in the biomedical research literature and successfully presents this original research to faculty of the graduate dissertation committee and the program/department. Typically, four to five years are required to realize this goal.

The program’s participating research faculty consists of scientists from the Department of Physiology & Pharmacology, NIOSH/CDC, and the Rockefeller Neurosciences Institute. As a result, this multidimensional program includes activities in the following:

  • Pharmacology
  • Integrative and systems physiology
  • Pathophysiology
  • Translational research
  • Small animal physiology
  • Biophysics

It also integrates information from genetics, functional genomics, and proteomics into whole animal and human physiology.

This interactive and cross-disciplinary environment, together with an atmosphere filled with enthusiasm and passion for scientific discovery, makes our program a uniquely exciting place for doing research and the training of students. Specific topics of research emphasis include the following:

  • Protein Regulators of Hormone and Neurotransmitter Signal Transduction
  • Hemodynamics and Cardiovascular Control in Health and Disease
  • Microcirculation and Cellular Biophysics
  • Respiratory Function and Control in Health and Disease
  • Neuroendocrine Control of Reproduction
  • Neural Control of Sensory Physiology

Students will leave our program better able to identify important unsolved scientific problems and with an appreciation of how to select problems for which quantitative and theoretical approaches will be most productive.

Doctor of Philosophy

Major Requirements 

Scientific Integrity2
Scientific Integrity
BMS 706Cellular Methods1
BMS 707Experiential Learning for Biomedical Trainees2
BMS 720Scientific Writing2
Graduate Seminar4
Graduate Seminar
PSIO 750Graduate Physiology and Pharmacology 13
PSIO 751Graduate Physiology and Pharmacology 23
BMS 702Biomedical Lab Experience2
BMS 747Foundations for Contemporary Biomedical Research I4
BMS 777Foundations for Contemporary Biomedical Research 24
Graduate Colloquium7
Graduate Colloquium
Molecular Genetics
Cancer Cell Biology
Drug Discovery
Special Problems in Microbiology
Special Problems in Microbiology
Teaching Practicum
PSIO 791
ADTP:Physiology Issues
Directed Study
Special Topics
Independent Study
Qualifying Exam
Candidacy Exam
Dissertation Defense
Total Hours89

Seminars and Research Forum

Students register for one credit of seminar each academic year while in residence.

Journal Club

Students are required to enroll in Journal Club each semester. The course involves the presentation and discussion of current research papers and will help acquaint students with the variety of methods used in scientific research.

Doctoral Research

Students will conduct research with a dissertation mentor during time in the program. Students register for research credits each semester, and their performance is graded by their dissertation mentor.

Qualifying and Dissertation Proposal/Ph.D. Candidacy

The oral qualifying exam is given at the end of the second year of study. The candidacy exam is completed in the third year of study. Admission to Ph.D. candidacy occurs following the successful defense of the dissertation proposal.

Dissertation Defense and First-Author Paper Requirement

Students are allowed to defend their dissertation when a minimum of one manuscript with student as the first author, based on dissertation research, is accepted in a peer-reviewed journal. The final examination for the Ph.D. degree consists of orally defending a written dissertation in a public seminar and then in private to the dissertation committee.  An external examiner, a distinguished scientist external to WVU, is required to participate at the dissertation defense. Satisfactory performance in the oral defense will result in recommendation for granting of the Ph.D. degree.

Suggested Plan of Study*

First Year
BMS 7001Electives 3PSIO 7973
BMS 7061BMS 7001 
BMS 7022PSIO 7441 
BMS 7474PSIO 750 or 7513 
BMS 7774PSIO 7972 
 PSIO 7991 
 12 11 3
Second Year
PSIO 750 or 7513Electives 6BMS 7202
PSIO 7972PSIO 7441PSIO 7971
Electives3PSIO 7971 
PSIO 7991PSIO 7991 
 9 9 3
Third Year
Elective (as needed)3PSIO 7978PSIO 7971
PSIO 7441PSIO 7991BMS 7072
PSIO 7974  
PSIO 7991  
 9 9 3
Fourth Year
PSIO 7441PSIO 7978PSIO 7973
PSIO 7977PSIO 7991 
PSIO 7991  
 9 9 3
Total credit hours: 89

NOTE:  The graduate curriculum is finalized with a plan of study once the mentor and laboratory have been selected in the first year.  The plan of study is developed by the graduate committee in consultation with the student.  The courses listed above include the required and elective coursework necessary for the student to finalize his/her plan of study. When the student enters the laboratory of his/her doctoral dissertation mentor repetitive enrollments in research, seminars, and colloquia are typical and will determine total hours necessary for degree completion.

*This is a suggested plan of study. Course sequences and length of time in program may vary depending on student and altered total credit hours.

Major Learning Outcomes

cellular and integrative physiology

The student learning and programmatic outcomes of the Cellular and Integrative Physiology Graduate Program are similar to those put forth by the Human Anatomy & Physiology Society (HAPS) and the American Physiological Society (APS). They are as follows:

Fundamental Content & Process Goals

1. Recognize the anatomy and explain physiological functions of body systems.

2. Recognize and explain the principle of homeostasis and the use of feedback loops to control physiological systems.

3. Use anatomical knowledge to predict physiological consequences, and use knowledge of function to predict the features of anatomical structures.

4. Recognize and explain the interrelationships within and between anatomical and physiological systems of the body.

5. Synthesize ideas to make a connection between knowledge of anatomy and physiology and real-world situations, including healthy lifestyle decisions and homeostatic imbalances.

Broader Process Goals

6. Demonstrate information literacy skills to access, evaluate, and use resources to stay current in the field of physiology.

7. Examine issues related to physiology from an evidence-based perspective.

8. Communicate clearly and in a way that reflects knowledge and understanding of physiology and demonstrates the ability to adapt information to different audiences and applications.


PSIO 593A. Special Topics. 1-6 Hours.

A study of contemporary topics selected from recent developments in the field.

PSIO 742. Physiological Methods 2. 1-4 Hours.

PR: Consent. Research techniques and strategies for physiology.

PSIO 743. Fundamentals of Physiology. 5 Hours.

PR: College physics, algebra, chemistry, and consent. (For dental students and a limited number of full-time graduate students.) Analysis of basic facts and concepts relating to cellular processes, organ systems, and their control.

PSIO 744. Graduate Seminar. 1-3 Hours.

PR: Graduate standing and consent. (Grading may be S/U.).

PSIO 750. Graduate Physiology and Pharmacology 1. 3 Hours.

This is a flipped classroom format course that integrates the basic knowledge (molecular, sub-cellular, cellular, and tissue components) of cardiovascular, respiratory and kidney system function. It also includes the application of basic pharmacology to the fundamental understanding of human health and disease as it relates to these systems.

PSIO 751. Graduate Physiology and Pharmacology 2. 3 Hours.

This course is designed to integrate basic knowledge (molecular, sub-cellular and tissue components) of gastrointestinal, endocrine and neural system function. It also includes the application of basic pharmacology to the fundamental understanding of human health and disease as it relates to these systems. This is a flipped classroom format course.

PSIO 760. Human Physiology. 6 Hours.

A blended online medical physiology course with weekly face-to-face class meetings for first-year medical students who took a leave of absence and will repeat their first year.

PSIO 790. Teaching Practicum. 1-3 Hours.

PR: Consent. Supervised practice in college teaching of physiology. Note: This course is intended to insure that graduate assistants are adequately prepared and supervised when they are given college teaching responsibility. It will also present a mechanism for students not on assistantships to gain teaching experience. (Grading may be P/F.).

PSIO 791A-B. Advanced Topics. 1-3 Hours.

PR: Consent. Investigation of topics not covered in regularly scheduled courses.

PSIO 792. Directed Study. 1-6 Hours.

Directed study, reading, and/or research.

PSIO 793A-C. Special Topics. 1-6 Hours.

A study of contemporary topics selected from recent developments in the field.

PSIO 794. Seminar. 1-6 Hours.

Special seminars arranged for advanced graduate students.

PSIO 795. Independent Study. 1-9 Hours.

Faculty supervised study of topics not available through regular course offerings.

PSIO 796. Graduate Seminar. 1 Hour.

PR: Consent. Each graduate student will present at least one seminar to the assembled faculty and graduate student body of his or her program.

PSIO 797. Research. 1-15 Hours.

PR: Consent. Research activities leading to thesis, problem report, research paper or equivalent scholarly project, or a dissertation. (Grading may be S/U.).

PSIO 798. Thesis or Dissertation. 1-6 Hours.

PR: Consent. This is an optional course for programs that wish to provide formal supervision during the writing of student reports (698), or dissertations (798). Grading is normal.

PSIO 799. Graduate Colloquium. 1-6 Hours.

PR: Consent. For graduate students not seeking course work credit but who wish to meet residency requirements, use the University's facilities, and participate in its academic and cultural programs. Note: Graduate students who are not actively involved in coursework or research are entitled, through enrollment in their department's 699/799 Graduate Colloquium to consult with graduate faculty, participate in both formal and informal academic activities sponsored by their program, and retain all of the rights and privileges of duly enrolled students. Grading is P/F; colloquium credit may not be counted against credit requirements for masters programs. Registration for one credit of 699/799 graduate colloquium satisfies the University requirement of registration in the semester in which graduation occurs.

PSIO 801. Summer Medical Physiology. 7 Hours.

An online course designed for medical students who need to remediate the physiology portion of WVU SOM: CCMD 730 (or equivalent), prior to entering their second year. Course will be taught on a Pass/Fail basis.


Graduate Program Director

  • David Siderovski - Ph.D.
    (Interim Director)
  • Robert Brock - Ph.D.
    (Extended Leave)


  • David Siderovski - Ph.D.
    (Hormone & Neurotransmitter Signaling)

Regular Mentors

  • Paul Chantler - Ph.D.
  • Robert Goodman - Ph.D.
    (Endocrine & Neuroscience)
  • Stanley Hileman - Ph.D.
    (Endocrine & Neuroscience)
  • Salik Hussain - Ph.D.
    (Respiratory Toxicology)
  • Eric Kelley - Ph.D.
    (Redox Physiology)
  • S. Jamal Mustafa - Ph.D.
  • Timothy Nurkiewicz - Ph.D.
  • Mark Olfert - Ph.D.
    (Cardiovascular & Respiratory)
  • Vazhaikkurichi Rajendran - Ph.D.
    (Gastrointestinal Electrophysiology)
  • Bernard Schreurs - Ph.D.
  • Vincent Setola - Ph.D.
    (Neuroscience & Signaling)
  • James Simpkins - Ph.D.
  • Han-Gang Yu - Ph.D.

NIOSH Mentors

  • Patti Erdely - Ph.D.
  • Aaron Erdely - Ph.D.
  • Jeffrey Fedan - Ph.D.
  • Dale Porter - Ph.D.
  • Anna Shvedova - Ph.D.



  • David Siderovski - Ph.D.
    (E.J. Van Liere Endowed Medicine Professor)


  • Tammy McPherson -
    (Sr. Administrative Official)