Present and Future

Department of Physiology Ranks Third in North America

Memphis, Tenn. (February 7, 2011) The University of Tennessee Health Science Center (UTHSC) is pleased to announce that its Department of Physiology is now ranked third among 186 departments of physiology in the United States, Canada, Mexico and Puerto Rico. The ranking is developed through an annual survey of the American Physiological Society (APS) and is based on an institution's research dollars, number of faculty and amount of research space. With 19 full-time faculty members and a budget of more than $16 million, the faculty generates an average of $586,499 per member. The department moved up from seventh place in the 2009 APS ranking.

Gabor Tigyi, MD, PhD, Harriet Van Vleet Professor and chair of the UTHSC Department of Physiology, believes the higher ranking is a result of the faculty attracting seven new grant awards from the National Institutes of Health (NIH). In 2009, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act infused the NIH with a one-time grant of approximately $8 billion to fuel exceptional scientific endeavors aimed at improving the length and quality of life of U.S. citizens.

"We are extremely gratified for the recognition among our peers," said Dr. Tigyi in response to the new ranking. "Our department has consistently been among the top10 in the ranking for many years, definitive proof of the long-standing excellence and extraordinary accomplishments of our team."

"It takes immense dedication to continuously thrive as one of the top departments of physiology on this continent," said UTHSC Chancellor Steve Steve J. Schwab, MD. "It is also important to note that our graduate students frequently assign high ranks to the medical physiology course and consistently honor Physiology faculty for their excellent teaching skills," he added.

Research in the UTHSC Department of Physiology is focused on vascular biology, electrophysiology, corneal discoveries, respiratory epithelial biology and gastrointestinal mucosal biology. The department offers an interdisciplinary curriculum to teach graduate students basic science courses and its Integrated Biomedical Sciences Program (IBSP) allows graduate students to train in faculty laboratories at UTHSC, St. Jude Children's Research Hospital, and the Veteran Affairs Medical Center. The IBSP includes tracks in molecular, cellular and systems physiology; cancer and developmental biology; cell biology and biochemistry; genetics; functional genomics and proteomics; neuroscience, and molecular therapeutics and cell signaling. The department's postdoctoral fellows are published in top-tier journals and succeed in gaining faculty positions or careers in government or the private sector, including Fortune 500 companies such as Pfizer, Merck, and EMD Serono Inc. Recent graduates have held postdoctoral positions in top research institutions, including Yale University, Scripps Research Institute, and Harvard University.

Currently, the Department of Physiology has a team of nearly 100 among faculty, staff and students, and will hire new faculty in the near future. UTHSC is in the planning stages for the new Translational Science Research Building, which will be the new home for the department's investigators. The department has expanded its state-of-the-art equipment to include: a Zeiss 5 LIVE confocal microscope, a Perkin Elmer MicroBeta counter, a Zeiss 710 NLO multiphoton microscope, and a TECAN Genios Pro microplate reader. To learn more about the UTHSC Department of Physiology, visit: http://physio1.uthsc.edu.