University of Nebraska Medical Center

Integrative Physiology & Molecular Medicine Research Areas

The Integrative Physiology & Molecular Medicine doctoral program provides diverse research and learning experiences that emphasize cellular and molecular processes underscoring coordinated integration of organ systems within the body, typically with a view to unraveling disease mechanisms. The interdisciplinary environment of the Integrative Physiology & Molecular Medicine doctoral program, involving both basic scientists and clinician scientists, facilitates the acquisition of modern experimental techniques and development of the intellectual tools required for their effective implementation in the study of current problems in health and disease. Students in the program typically pursue research projects that combine sophisticated approaches for study of cellular & molecular function with powerful integrative physiological techniques.

Research Interests

Training in Integrative Physiology & Molecular Medicine is designed to optimize the ability of students to address a broad range of research problems that can be categorized into several general themes that represent contemporary strategies for understanding molecular and integrative mechanisms contributing to physiology and pathophysiology. There are no clear lines of demarcation between these categories, and interactions across thematic lines are routine and encouraged. Although research within Integrative Physiology & Molecular Medicine extends beyond the scope of the listed categories, this organization is useful for the purpose of describing the breadth of opportunities available.

Cell Transport and Signaling research examines the molecular mechanisms that regulate function at the single cell level:

  • Mechanisms of control of ion channel and transporter activity
  • Cell surface receptors and associated second messenger systems
  • Mechanisms that regulate trafficking of integral proteins to/from the plasma membrane
  • Role of redox signaling in cellular function
  • Oxidative, carbonyl, and nitrosative stress-induced disruption of cellular function
  • Regulation of ciliary motility in airway epithelial cells

Mechanisms of Cellular Injury and Fibrogenesis are being unraveled in research focusing on mechanisms of cellular injury, death, repair and regeneration in a variety of disease settings, including:

  • High fat diet-induced obesity
  • Ischemia-reperfusion injury
  • Nephropathy and cardiomyopathy in diabetes mellitus
  • Peripheral arterial disease
  • Chronic myocardial infarction
  • Alcohol-induced liver injury

Inflammatory and autoimmune processes are the focus of studies designed to unveil mechanisms contributing to a variety of diseases, including:

  • Lupus nephritis
  • Hypertension
  • Obesity
  • Diabetes
  • Inflammatory respiratory diseases (e.g. COPD, asthma, chronic bronchitis)
  • Aortic aneurysms

Cardiovascular Function research focuses on the intracellular, neural and humoral mechanisms regulating the heart and vasculature in health and disease.

  • Ca2+ signaling in cardiac and vascular smooth muscle
  • Effects of ischemia on cellular, vascular and organ function
  • Neural reflex and humoral control of cardiovascular function and volume homeostasis
  • Stretch receptor and chemosensitive receptor endings in the cardiovascular system
  • Central nervous system mechanisms that impact cardiovascular and renal function and dysfunction

Therapeutic strategies are being developed to target key pathophysiological processes:

  • Nanoparticle delivery of antioxidant enzymes as an antihypertensive therapy
  • Exercise training as a means of ameliorating CNS abnormalities in heart failure
  • Contrast microbubble-mediated therapeutic ultrasound applications for cardiovascular drug delivery and the acute treatment of stroke, acute coronary syndromes, and catheter-related thrombi
  • MicroRNAs as an intervention tool in diabetic heart failure
  • Regeneration of adult skeletal muscle in peripheral arterial disease through the use of exercise, medications, adult stem cells and revascularization operations
  • Stem cell therapies in cardiomyopathy and neurodegenerative diseases