Bianca Quade.

In our doctoral program, we’ll nurture your interests. Research on corneal proteins led by trainee Bianca Natalia Quade was cited as “Paper of the Year” by the American Journal of Physiology-Cell Physiology.

Our doctoral program in physiology prepares your for a career in original research, teaching and applied physiology.

The program emphasizes both extensive training in molecular, cellular, and systems physiology and intensive training in current topics in physiological research. Students can pursue research in neurobiology, cardiovascular, cellular, gastrointestinal, and renal physiology. Students also have the opportunity to pursue collaborative research in other related departments or areas of the university.

Graduate students typically come directly from a four-year college program and usually have majored in biology or chemistry, although some matriculate after having worked in industry, served in the Peace Corps, or had other non-academic experiences. Most enter the program to train for a career in research and teaching at a college, university, or professional school, but graduates also find employment in government or industrial laboratories.

The PhD program is designed for students seeking a career in academia or industry.

Program Objectives

The goal of the PhD program is to produce graduates who are well founded in the principles of organ system and cellular physiology, able to perform original research of high quality in specialized areas of physiology, and competent as teachers of physiology.


For students entering the Physiology program from the PhD Program in Biomedical Sciences (PPBS), the following courses are required:

1st Semester

  • BMS 515LEC Fundamentals of Biomedical Research I, 4 credits
  • BMS 516LEC Fundamentals of Biomedical Research II, 3 credits
  • BMS 514LEC Introduction to Scientific Investigation and Responsible Conduct, 2 credits
  • BMS 509 PhD Program Laboratory Rotation, 4 credits
  • BMS 510 PhD Program Laboratory Rotation, 4 credits

2nd Semester

  • BMS 509 PhD Program Laboratory Rotation, 4 credits
  • BMS 510 PhD Program Laboratory Rotation, 4 credits
  • BMS 511 Fundamentals in Biomedical Sciences - Critiquing Scientific Literature, 1 credit
  • 2 electives from the PPBS curriculum
  • PGY 505 Cell & Membrane Physiology, 4 credits
  • PGY 505 Cell & Membrane Physiology, 4 credits

Formal admission to the Physiology program.

Year 2 Fall

  • PGY 551 Human Physiology I, 3 credits
  • PGY 551R Human Physiology I Research Tutorial, 1 credit
  • PGY 507 Laboratory Exercises in Physiology, 8 credits

Year 2 Spring

  • PGY 552 Human Physiology II, 3 credits
  • PGY 552R Human Physiology II Recitation, 1 credit
  • PGY 508 Laboratory Exercises in Physiology, 8 credits

Year 2 Summer

  • Preliminary Examination/Research (Complete exam before the beginning of the 3rd year)
  • PGY 701 Thesis Research

Year 3 Fall

  • PGY 701 Thesis Research
  • PGY 599 Supervised Teaching

Year 3 Spring

  • PGY 702 Thesis Research

Year 3 Summer

  • PGY 702 Thesis Research

Year 4 Fall

  • PGY 701 Thesis Research

Year 4 Spring

  • PGY 702 Thesis Research

Year 4 Summer

  • PGY 702 Thesis Research

Year 5 Fall

  • PGY 701 Thesis Research

Year 5 Spring

  • PGY 702 Thesis Research

PhD Program in Biomedical Sciences (PPBS) electives, but required for Physiology (can be taken in year 2)

Elective Courses

Elective courses provide opportunities for advanced education in specialized areas relevant to the student's thesis research and advanced general education. Courses offered by the Department of Physiology and Biophysics include advanced topics in physiology or biophysics, research seminars, and colloquia. Courses in other disciplines may be elected by the student in consultation with the student's major professor:

  • PGY 607 Cellular and Molecular Basis of Disease, 3 credits
  • NRS 520 Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience, 4 credits
  • NRS 521 Neuroscience Intro 2, 4 credits
  • NRS 524 Developmental Neurobiology, 3 credits
  • BPH 502 Biophysics Techniques, 3 credits
  • BPH 503 Molecular Biophysics, 3 credits
  • BPH 505 Biophysical Basics: Processes, 3 credits
  • MAE 578 Cardiovascular Biomechanics, 3 credits
  • BIO 502 Advanced Cell Biology, 4 credits
  • BIO 608 Advanced Topics in Macromolecular Structure, 3 credits
  • BE 520 Biomaterials in Regenerative Medicine, 3 credits
  • BE 570 Medical Nanotechnology, 3 credits
  • BE 555 Biomechanics and Mechanobiology, 3 credits
  • BCH 507 Protein Structure and Function, 2 credits
  • BCH 508 Gene Expression, 2 credits


In order to develop communication and teaching skills, it is expected that during the period of supervised teaching, the student will prepare and deliver a block of at least six lectures, will participate in the development and presentation of student laboratories, will prepare appropriate examination questions, and will assist in the evaluation and counseling of students. A minimum of three credit hours in supervised teaching is required.

Grading and Promotion Standards

The Department requires a grade of at least 'B' in all required course work in Physiology. Failure to meet this requirement in a single course results in a probationary period; multiple failures may lead to dismissal from the program. A grade of 'C' in courses outside the Department is acceptable provided that it represents passing performance in the view of the department concerned. The Graduate School also requires that the student's overall average be maintained at least at the 'B' level. The Department does not accept the grade of Satisfactory/Unsatisfactory and discourages the use of "Incomplete" for graduate courses.

Preliminary Examination

Successful passing of the Preliminary Examination is required before a student is formally admitted to candidacy for the PhD.

Eligibility for the Preliminary Examination requires the successful completion of all courses included in the first two years of the Curriculum, a commitment from a member of the faculty willing to serve as Major Professor and Director of Thesis Research, and approval by the Graduate Affairs Committee. The Preliminary Examination is conducted by a Preliminary Examination Committee appointed by the Director of Graduate Studies and comprised of five or six members of the Graduate Faculty. The chairperson of the Examination Committee is designated by the Director of Graduate Studies.

The Preliminary Examination consists of a written research proposal on a topic selected by the student in consultation with the Director of Graduate Studies. The topic will not be the topic that will become the student's thesis research area, but it can be related. The written proposal will be evaluated by the Preliminary Examination Committee. If the proposal is found to be acceptable, the proposal is then presented to the Preliminary Examination Committee in a seminar followed by an oral defense.

Thesis Research, Thesis Preparation, Thesis Reviews

When the student successfully passes the Preliminary Examination, the student and his/her Major Professor recommend a minimum of two members of the Department's Graduate Faculty and a third member from outside the Department for the Thesis Advisory Committee. The committee is to be appointed by the Director of Graduate Studies and chaired by the Major Professor.

The thesis research is conducted by the graduate student under the tutelage of his/her Major Professor and Thesis Committee.

Thesis preparation is critically monitored and supervised by the Major Professor and the Thesis Committee, both of whom must approve the thesis prior to the oral defense.

The oral defense of thesis is scheduled after the candidate's Thesis Committee, the Department and the Outside Reader have approved the thesis. The thesis is presented to the Graduate Faculty in a seminar followed by an oral defense.

Admission requirements and student selection procedures

The candidate for graduate work in Physiology should have demonstrated above-average academic performance, especially in mathematics, inorganic, organic and physical chemistry, physics and biology. Entry into the program is contingent upon award of the baccalaureate degree.

Applicants generally enter the Physiology and Biophysics PhD program after one year in the PhD Program in Biomedical Sciences (PPBS).

Applicants to the PhD Program in Biomedical Sciences are required to submit the following:

  • College transcripts
  • Three (3) letters of recommendation, and
  • A statement of interest in becoming a physiologist.

International applicants must also present:

  • Financial data
  • The results of TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language) if English is not a native language. A TOEFL score of 79 (IBT) or 550 (PBT) or above is considered the minimum acceptable for admissions consideration.

The Interdisciplinary Admissions Committee evaluates these credentials, conducts interviews with promising candidates, and makes offers of admission. This offer normally carries with it financial support in the form of a graduate assistantship and tuition scholarship. During this interdisciplinary year, applicants to the Physiology program are evaluated by the Physiology and Biophysics Graduate Affairs Committee, which makes offers of admission to the program. This offer normally carries with it financial support in the form of a research assistantship and tuition scholarship.

Applicants may also enter the program without first entering the PhD Program in Biomedical Sciences, after evaluation by the Graduate Affairs Committee and with the approval of the Graduate Faculty. 

Requirements for the PhD

Graduate School Requirements

  • A minimum of three years (72 credit hours) of graduate study
  • A minimum residence of one year (24 credit hours)
  • Continuous registration for a minimum of one semester hour each Fall and Spring term until all requirements for the degree are completed.
  • A PhD dissertation which is an original contribution, normally written in English.
  • A Major Professor and a minimum of two members of the Department’s Graduate Faculty and a third member from outside of the Department shall form the Thesis Advisory Committee. All should hold the rank of Assistant Professor or above in the University faculty.


Director of Graduate Studies, Physiology

Duffey, Michael

Michael Duffey, PhD

Professor of Physiology and Biophysics; Professor of Medicine

4154 JSMBS 955 Main Street Buffalo, NY 14203

Phone: (716) 829-3111


Assistant Director of Academic Administration

Kara Rickicki

Assistant Director of Academic Administration

Physiology and Biophysics

955 Main Street, Room 3102C, Buffalo, NY 14203

Phone: (716) 829-2417