Integrative Physiology

Rebecca Cunningham, PhD, Graduate Advisor

Carl E. Everett Education and Administration Building, Room 310G | Phone: 817-735-5080 | E-mail:

Physiology is an essential foundation for clinical and experimental medicine. The physiologist seeks an understanding of the physical and chemical mechanisms of biological processes. Integrative physiology is the study of the function of living organisms and their various components. It encompasses normal and abnormal function and ranges in scope from an understanding of basic molecular and cellular functions to a cognizance of biological control systems and of the integration of bodily functions among multiple organ systems.

The faculty maintain active and productive research programs with special emphasis on cardiovascular physiology. Research interests of the faculty include autonomic neuroscience, neuroendocrinology, cardiac hypertrophy and failure, cardiac resuscitation, cardiac opioids, coronary circulation, adaptation to exercise and hypoxia, effects of aging and obesity, neurophysiology, and calcium signaling. Faculty programs are funded by extramural sources including the American Heart Association, the National Institutes of Health, American Diabetes Association, Department of Defense, and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration.

Students may enter the program after completing course work and laboratory rotations as required by the Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences. The program offers advanced courses designed to integrate the fundamental processes of molecular biology and neurophysiology with organ system functions. Students participate in teaching and seminars and receive extensive training in techniques of contemporary physiological research. Doctoral and Master of Science (MS) students perform original, publishable research, and present their research findings at national scientific meetings. One to two years are required to complete the MS degree requirements. Three to five years are required to complete the Doctor of Philosophy degree requirements. It is expected that, prior to the awarding of the doctorate, the student will have published, have in press, or have submitted two first-author publications in peer-reviewed journals.

Graduates with advanced degrees find employment in higher education, industry and government agencies.


Advancement to Doctoral Candidacy

Qualifying Examination


Prior to registration for Grant Writing (BMSC 6310), and before completion of 72 SCH of course work, doctoral students are required to pass an oral qualifying examination. I recommended that the exam take place during the spring or summer semester of the student’s second year in the program. The examination will be administered by a departmental examining committee, which will not include the student’s mentor. The examination may address all aspects of physiology and, in addition, assess the student’s research skills and aptitude.

A maximum of two attempts to pass the qualifying examination will be allowed. A doctoral student who does not pass after the second attempt may be is missed or allowed to complete the requirements for a Master of Science degree.


Upon approval of the research proposal, the student is advanced to candidacy.

This page was last modified on September 11, 2018