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Headshot of Michael Cahalan

Our faculty participate in a wide range of research activities. At one end of the spectrum are large, medically relevant questions, such as the mechanisms that induce the immune response in humans, and the molecular bases of diseases.

At the other end of the spectrum are the physical descriptions of simple chemical processes and structures that mimic the behavior of cells or components of cells, such as artificial membranes and synthetically produced small fragments of proteins.

The largest part of departmental research falls between the entire medical and entirely molecular. Its objective is to understand how proteins function in catalyzing metabolically important reactions in cells, how signals (such as those carried by hormones) are transmitted from one cell to another, and how specialized cells (such as muscle fibers) perform their intended functions.

Use this website to learn more about our department. If you have questions, contact us anytime.

Michael D. Cahalan, PhD
Chair, Physiology & Biophysics

Core academic missions

  • In research, to understand how molecules function to promote signaling and catalysis in cells, how signals are transmitted from one cell to another, and how specialized cells perform their functions (Molecules, Cells, Systems); 
  • In teaching, to convey the fundamentals of physiology to medical students in a manner that promotes life-long learning; and to train graduate students for careers in academia or industry;
  • In service, to guide the present and future course of the University and organizations that support basic research.

A broad vision linking neuroscience, immunology, and cancer:

  • Physiology: Normal mechanisms of homeostasis and communication within the body at molecular, cellular, organ, and systems levels, as well as pathophysiology and identifying targets for therapy. How things work, what can go wrong and how to fix it.
  • Biophysics: Quantitative approaches using specialized instrumentation to understand mechanisms. Development of new probes and methods.