Message from the Chair

Karl L. Magleby

Karl Magleby, PhD

Professor and Chairman
RMRB 5048
305-243-6236 (office)
305-243-6898 (fax)

Physiology studies the functions of living organisms and their parts, from single molecules, to single cells to tissues, to organs, to whole organisms. Biophysics uses mathematics, and computer powered numerical computation, to apply the laws of physics and chemistry to study physiological function.  The biophysical emphasis is on quantitative analysis and mathematical models to reveal mechanism. The Department of Physiology and Biophysics at the Miller School combines physiology and biophysics to determine mechanisms underlying normal function of single molecules to systems, and also to disclose defective mechanisms of single molecules to systems that give rise to disease processes. State-of-the art research instrumentation in the department facilitates progress. The mechanistic knowledge gained is then applied to develop potential therapies for specific disease processes through translational research. Extensive collaborations both within and outside of the University of Miami facilitate interdisciplinary research.

We seek to explore and understand:

  • ion channels
  • electrical activity of nerve cells and cardiac muscle
  • transporters
  • synaptic transmission, regulation and plasticity
  • sensory pathways and mechanisms for touch, pain, light, taste, and smell
  • neuron – glia interactions and responses to nervous system injury and regeneration
  • neuroimmunology
  • gap junctions
  • intercellular communication by non-synaptic release of transmitters, such as ATP
  • ionic and pH homeostasis in nervous system
  • neuroprotection from ischemia
  • muscle contraction
  • adhesion and mechanial properties of cells and tissues

Graduate Education

The Department of Physiology and Biophysics is home to the graduate program in Physiology and Biophysics, with a wide range of research opportunities.  Physiology and Biophysics is also a major contributor to neuroscience research and the Neuroscience graduate program through its study of neural, proteins, cells and tissues.  The Department will also contribute to the Master’s Program in Biomedical Sciences.

Courses taught in the Graduate curriculum can be found at:

MD and MD/MPH curriculum. Faculty in the Department of Physiology and Biophysics contribute to multiple medical school courses in both the traditional MD and MD/MPH curriculum.  Physiology lays the ground work towards understanding the function and underlying mechanisms of molecules to cells to organ systems and thus plays a key role in preparing students for their clinical studies and medical practice. For students in the MD program, Physiology and Biophysics faculty teach the Physiology half of the 4 week Cellular Function and Regulation (CFR) course, which prepares students for their upcoming Organ System modules by introducing key concepts such as water and ion transport across membranes, nerve conduction, muscle contraction and synaptic transmission.  Physiology faculty also play key roles in the physiology portions of 4 of the Organ System Modules taught in both traditional and MD/MPH pathways: Neuroscience, Cardiovascular, Respiratory and Renal. Our teaching includes lectures, videos, small group conferences and a Pulmonary Function Lab.  Physiology faculty also have a strong history of involvement in committees related to curricular supervision and revision, such as the Executive Faculty Curriculum Steering Committee and the Basic Science Curriculum Advisory Committee. Physiology faculty have received many teaching awards, including the George Paff Excellence in Teaching Award, Unsung Hero Award, elections to Alpha Omega Alpha medical student honor society) and Teacher of the Year Award.

Students in the MD/MPH program spend much of their first year taking an intensive 3-part Fundamental Biomedical Sciences (FBS) sequence, the second part of which (FBS2) is coordinated and substantially taught by the faculty of the Department of Physiology and Biophysics, covering subject matter like that the students in the regular MD program learn in the Cellular Function and Regulation (CFR) course.  The integrated FBS series also includes Problem Based Learning (PBL) and Gross Anatomy components that are taught by separate facilitators and instructors.  The FBS courses prepare students for organ and systems modules that follow, some of which are also coordinated and taught by faculty in Physiology and Biophysics.

Pathway in Physiology and Biophysics in Medicine.  Medical students who wish to enhance their training can apply in January of their first year to enter one of the pathways offered through the Office of Medical Education, including the Pathway in Physiology and Biophysics in Medicine taught by faculty in the department.  The pathway is designed to train students in experimental approaches that underlie modern evidence-based medicine, with the aim of preparing them to be able to critically evaluate and make use of new findings throughout their professional lives as productive physicians.  Thus, students in the pathway take mini-courses in microscopy, electrophysiology and statistics, work in research labs, particularly during the summer, attend and present at journal clubs, and have the opportunity to present their original research at meetings and for publication.

Core Facilities

There is an excellent machine shop housed in the Department of Physiology and Biophysics. The machine shop is equipped with the lathe, milling, drilling and sawing machinery necessary for building experimental apparatus to aid in the design and construction of novel equipment, as well as to help with the repair and calibration of equipment.

Seminar Series

The Department have seminar series speakers of in-house and outside invited speakers