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. The program offers training in the laboratories of an exceptional departmental research faculty. 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 having majored in biology, chemistry, physics or engineering, although some matriculate after having worked in industry or had other non-academic experiences. Many 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.

Program Objectives

The goal of the PhD program in physiology 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.

Graduate School Requirements for the PhD

  • 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.


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 511 Fundamentals in Biomedical Sciences - Critiquing Scientific Literature, 1 credit
  • Elective, 4 credits
  • BMS 509 PhD Program Laboratory Rotation, 4 credits
  • BMS 510 PhD Program Laboratory Rotation, 4 credits

Formal admission to the PhD program in physiology.

Year 2 Fall

  • PGY 505 Cellular & M Physiology, 4 credits
  • Elective, 3-4 credits
  • PGY 507 Laboratory Exercises in Physiology, 5 credits

Year 2 Spring

  • PGY 607 Cellular and Molecular Basis of Disease, 3 credits
  • Elective, 2-4 credits
  • PGY 508 Laboratory Exercises in Physiology, 7 credits

Year 2 Summer

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

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

Elective Courses

Elective courses provide opportunities for advanced education in specialized areas relevant to the student's thesis research and advanced general education. Courses may be selected by the student in consultation with the student's Thesis Advisor. Some suggested elective courses include (some of these are not available every year; other courses are also possible):

  • PGY 551 Human Physiology I, 3 credits
  • PGY 552 Human Physiology II, 3 credits
  • PGY 555 Neuroimmunology, 3 credits
  • NRS 520 Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience, 4 credits
  • NRS 521 Systems Neuroscience, 4 credits
  • NRS 524 Developmental Neurobiology, 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 503 Biochemical Principles, 3 credits
  • BCH 507 Protein Structure and Function, 2 credits
  • BCH 508 Gene Expression, 2 credits

Supervised Teaching

Supervised teaching will help students develop communication and teaching skills. The format for this teaching can vary, depending on the needs and preferences of each student. Students may prepare and deliver lectures in undergraduate or graduate courses, or participate in the development and presentation of student laboratories. In addition, students will prepare appropriate examination questions, and will assist in the evaluation and counseling of students. A minimum of three credit hours in supervised teaching (PGY 599) is required. Teaching can occur at any appropriate time after completion of the Preliminary Examination, usually in the third or fourth year. The specific time and course will be determined in consultation between a student, the Thesis Advisor and the Director of Graduate Studies.

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

Passing both the written and oral portions 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 to serve as Thesis Advisor, 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 is comprised of three members of the Graduate Faculty, at least one of which will be from the Department.  The chairperson of the Examination Committee is designated by the Director of Graduate Studies.

The first component of 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 may be the thesis project of the student or another topic in physiology. The proposal must be independent work of the student and not the work of the Thesis Advisor. The written proposal will be evaluated by the Preliminary Examination Committee. If the proposal is found to be acceptable, in the second component of the examination the student will present an oral defense of the proposal to the Committee.

The Preliminary Examination should be completed by the end of the summer in year 2. The student will then file an Application to Candidacy. On approval of the Application to Candidacy, the student will be considered to be a PhD Candidate. 

Thesis Research, Thesis Preparation, Thesis Reviews

The PhD thesis reports the results of original research done by a graduate student. Research leading to a PhD thesis usually begins at the time that a student enters the Department. It is expected that thesis research will be a full-time activity after the student successfully passes the Preliminary Examination.

After a student successfully passes the Preliminary Examination, the student and his/her Thesis Advisor recommend three members of the Graduate Faculty (two from inside and one from outside the Department) to serve on the Thesis Advisory Committee.  Associate members of the UB Graduate Faculty may not serve on the Thesis Advisory Committee as core members, but may serve as additional committee members. Individuals who are neither members nor associate members of the UB Graduate Faculty may serve as additional committee members if their expertise would be of significant value to the student and the core members of the committee. The committee is appointed by the Director of Graduate Studies and chaired by the Thesis Advisor.  The thesis research is conducted by the graduate student under the tutelage of his/her Thesis Advisor and Thesis Committee.

Thesis preparation is critically monitored and supervised by the Thesis Advisor and the Thesis Advisory Committee.  The Thesis Advisory Committee under the leadership of the Thesis Advisor will formally review student progress at least once per year. The review should include a formal presentation by the graduate student and critical and supportive discussion by the faculty of research results, progress toward publications, and specific plans for completion of the research. An Annual Review Report for Graduate Students will be prepared for the student by the Director of Graduate Studies and will submitted to the Graduate School, usually following the annual meeting between the student and Thesis Advisory Committee.  The review form is at:

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

Departmental Seminars

Students are required to attend the Departmental seminar series. Students will often be given the opportunity to discuss research findings or career opportunities with the seminar speakers.

Medical Scientist Training Program

Students may pursue a PhD in Physiology and an MD degree through the Medical Scientist Training Program (MSTP). Students who enter the Department through MTSP will have completed their initial two years of the Medical School curriculum, then enter and complete a Departmental PhD program. Following completion of Departmental PhD requirements, students re-enter the Medical School curriculum and complete the third and fourth years of that program. The program is described at:

Admission requirements and student selection procedures

The candidate for graduate work in Physiology should have demonstrated above-average academic performance. Entry into the program is contingent upon award of the baccalaureate degree.

Applicants generally enter the Physiology 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
  • A statement of interest
  • Curriculum vita
  • International applicants must also present:
  • If English is not the native language, English proficiency score report (TOEFL, IELTS, etc.)

An Interdisciplinary Admissions Committee evaluates these credentials, conducts interviews with promising candidates, and makes offers of admission. This offer normally includes financial support in the form of a graduate assistantship and tuition scholarship. During this interdisciplinary year, applicants to the physiology PhD program choose a Thesis Advisor in the Department and are evaluated by the Graduate Affairs Committee. On admission to the Department, students normally receive financial support in the form of a research assistantship and tuition scholarship. 

Online application, PPBS:

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. 

Online application, Physiology:

Goals for Diversity and Inclusion in Student Recruiting

A goal of the Department of Physiology and Biophysics is to build a culturally and intellectually diverse and academically inclusive community of graduate students. 


Director of Graduate Studies, Physiology

Duffey, Michael

Michael Duffey, PhD

SUNY Distinguished Teaching Professor; Professor of Physiology and Biophysics; Professor of Medicine

4154 JSMBS 955 Main Street Buffalo, NY 14203

Phone: (716) 829-3111


Academic Coordinator

Molly Pratt-Cassidy

Academic Coordinator

Physiology and Biophysics

955 Main St., Room 3102B, Buffalo, NY 14203

Phone: (716) 829-3896