Fundamental principles of physiology, & neuroscience biophysics are taught within the Medical Sciences Course which runs throughout the first and second years of the medical curriculum. At this stage integration between the basic medical sciences is encouraged. In the third and fourth years a comprehensive coverage of medical and applied physiology is taught in modules integrated across pre-clinical and clinical departments within the Organ Systems Courses. The department also contributes to multidisciplinary seminars in the Clinical Clerkships of the fifth and sixth years and supports Graduate Medical Education programs in several disciplines. There is increasing integration of the teaching of Physiology and Pharmacology at all levels of the curriculum.
The Department is well equipped with uptodate modem equipment for the teaching of animal and human physiology. Practical Physiology involves the students in measurements in biology and on themselves, and human physiological data can be acquired using Maclab computers, which allow students immediate access to information and easy on-line analysis. This facility in Physiology is complemented by two Faculty clusters of 40 computers each, for off-line analysis, and a smaller departmental cluster.
The computer clusters are equipped for teaching transferable skills, computer assisted learning programs, access to the internet, and other software. Increasing development of Problem Based Learning also makes full use of these facilities.
Research in Physiology takes place on one floor of the Research Wing of the Faculty; this floor is also shared by researchers in Anatomy and Pharmacology. Research in the Molecular Sciences, Immunology and Microbiology , or in Clinical Science takes place on adjacent floors of this well equipped modern building, and interdisciplinary activity is enhanced by the use of this contiguous space. Research is financed partly through the department, partly via grants obtained through the Faculty Research Committee, and to a lesser extend by external funding. Interdisciplinary research is encouraged, and this is supported by a dedicated group of well qualified technicians.
Physiology of Afferent and Autonomic Nerves (Professor Morrison): Electrophysiological studies of sensory processing in visceral afferent nerves and of activity in autonomic efferent pathways are currently focused on the chemical mediators that alter the excitability of afferents and overall reflex excitability in organs such as the urinary bladder. A more recent development is an interest in diabetic neuropathy and similar techniques and concepts are being used to investigate diabetic hypoalgesia.
Physiology & Pharmacology of smooth muscle (Professor El-Sharkawy): Current projects involve the influence of enteric nerves on gastrointestinal smooth muscle function, the transmitters involved and their mechanisms of action. Projects on the effects of experimental diabetes and ageing on gastroduodenal motility in rats will begin soon.
Electrical propagation in smooth muscles (Dr Lammers): With a 256-electrode recording system, the propagation of action potentials and slow waves in several smooth muscle organs are currently investigated; these include studies on isolated tissues from the gastrointestinal system, the pregnant uterus and the sheep kidney pelvis.
Morphology & Physiology of Synaptic Plasticity during Ageing (Professor Fahim): The long-term objective of this research is to isolate healthy normative ageing from that of pathological ageing; thus far the most interesting findings indicate that despite pronounced structural changes at the neuromuscular junction, the physiological performance remains intact.
Single cell physiology of cardiac muscle (Dr Howarth): Investigation of excitation-contraction coupling mechanisms and structural changes in the diabetic heart.
(last updated: 25-July-2002)
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