Physiology, Biophysics & Systems Biology

Physiology, Biophysics & Systems BiologyOverview

The Physiology, Biophysics & Systems Biology (PBSB) graduate program at Weill Cornell Graduate School of Medical Sciences (WCGS) is designed to engage students in education through research in current and innovative aspects of three synergistic components of modern biomedicine: physiology—the functions of cells, tissues, and organs; biophysics—the application of principles of physics to biological processes; and systems—the complex interactions between components of a biological system.

biochemist and culture

The availability of information from genomics, imaging, and proteomics, combined with the power of computational methods, has enabled entirely new approaches for making discoveries and relating them to the most basic molecular mechanisms. Most importantly, these new approaches make it possible to integrate, in the research activities of the program's faculty, the findings from genetics, structural biology, and cell and molecular biology with principles and representations from physics and engineering.

Together, these approaches create a systems-level view of function in physiological components (e.g., from the cell to the heart, and from the neuron to the nervous system). This new integrative perspective, termed integrative systems biology, complements and completes the study of structure and mechanisms of the body's building blocks from their embryonic development to their mature function, in both healthy and diseased states.

The PBSB faculty members represent multidisciplinary research teams with appointments in various departments, including Physiology and Biophysics, Radiology, Pharmacology, Computational Biology, Neuroscience, Genetics, and Cell and Developmental Biology.

Program faculty are engaged in world-class research aimed at understanding the functional mechanisms in the human body, in health and in disease. Detailed investigations using cutting-edge approaches at all scales of size and complexity focus on four major areas: biophysical and physiological mechanisms of membranes and membrane proteins, quantitative and integrative systems biology, organogenesis and physiological genomics, and biomedical imaging and bioengineering.

PBSB faculty use innovative experimental approaches (from single-molecule imaging to whole-organ optical mapping) and computationally intensive theoretical methods (from bioinformatics and molecular dynamics to mathematical modeling and simulation of entire physiological systems).

Graduate students in PBSB participate in the evolution of these approaches and their application to state-of-the-art research in human structure and function. The course of study in the PBSB program is organized into modular courses and seminars offering education at the conceptual level, as well as in the experimental and computational tools of the component disciplines (physiology, biophysics and systems biology). PBSB faculty pride themselves in mentoring graduate students and preparing them for careers in biomedicine.

Additional information is available at the PBSB graduate program web site.