Physiology & Biophysics

Post-Baccalaureate Program: MS in Medical Physiology

Description of the Curriculum

Medical Physiology:  The core of the curriculum is a total of 20 hours of basic physiology.  The sequential Medical Physiology I and II courses (PHOL 481 and 482) begin with the study of the physiology of cells and molecules.  This first block of the course includes lectures on the basic structure and properties of proteins and nucleic acids, membrane physiology, cell signaling, and the physiology of skeletal, cardiac, and smooth muscles.  The courses then go into a detailed analysis of the various organ systems:  the nervous system, the cardiovascular system, the blood components, the urinary system, the respiratory system, the gastrointestinal system, the endocrine system (including bone structure, function and metabolism), and finally the reproductive system.  The last part of this course focuses on applying organ system physiology to the physiology of everyday life:  metabolism, regulation of body temperature, exercise physiology and sports science, environmental physiology, and aging.  Andrea Romani, MD, Ph.D. is the course director for these two courses.

Translational Physiology:  Concurrent with the two Medical Physiology courses, the two Translational Physiology courses (PHOL 483 and 484) explore examples of how the latest basic research in physiology and biophysics is applied to the treatment of human disease.  For example, while studying the basic principles of cardiovascular physiology the students will simultaneously address how these principles apply to treat/cure human cardiovascular disorders such as congestive heart failure, coronary artery disease, high blood pressure, etc.  These courses are designed to increase student awareness of the importance of understanding the physiology of an organ system in sufficient detail to be able to correct problems arising from the defective functioning of a given system.  Julian E. Stelzer, PhD is the director of these two courses.  Dr. Boron is the Chairman of the Department of Physiology and Biophysics and co-editor of the textbook that will be used for the Medical Physiology and Translational Physiology courses:  Medical Physiology: A Cellular and Molecular Approach.  A brief syllabus for each of these 15 week courses is found in Appendix A.

Physiology Seminar:  Most Monday afternoons at 4 PM, the department sponsors a research seminar.  The Physiology Seminar course that each student must take twice (PHOL 498C, PHOL 498D) requires that they attend this weekly seminar to learn of the latest research conducted by outstanding scientists from around the world.  Students must attend at least 75% of the departmental seminars during each of these two semesters and take quizzes over the seminar topic administered in Canvas. Stephen Jones, Ph.D. is the course director for the seminar courses.

Schedule of Required Courses:  The MSMP program has been designed to be completed in 1 year/12 months. To complete the program in this timeframe, students must do well in their first semester in the program. However, there are many combinations of courses/semester that a student can make to graduate with 32 credits of course work in as few as 2 semesters (9 months--this is not recommended), in two academic years (the recommended time frame for the program to optimize the student’s chances of getting into a professional program), or to decelerate the program, taking it part time, and graduating in 2+ years. Some of the options are detailed in Appendix B.  

Each student will meet with their MSMP Faculty Advisor prior to beginning the program to determine their customized course of study to achieve the degree. They should subsequently meet with their MSMP Faculty Advisor at least after each Block Exam so that a personal relationship is developed between the student and their advisor who writes the rough draft of their letter of recommendation to professional schools.

*Textbook for these courses is: Medical Physiology: A Cellular and Molecular Approach by Walter F. Boron and Emile L. Boulpaep.

Electives:  The remaining 12 credit hours required to complete the 30 credit hour requirement for the MS degree can be fulfilled by taking any 400 or higher level courses at CWRU, either inside or outside the Department of Physiology and Biophysics, with the permission of the student’s Academic Advisor. A list of courses students have taken in the past is found in Appendix C.

Weekly Schedule of Required Courses:  The Medical Physiology courses are scheduled from 10:00 AM – 12:00 noon on Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday of each week in E-501 and are presented in a lecture format by basic science faculty who are experts in the field.  The Translational Physiology courses are scheduled from 12:00 noon – 1:00 PM on Wednesdays and from 10:00 AM – 12:00 noon on Friday of each week in E-501 and presented in a lecture/discussion format by either basic scientists or clinical faculty members with expertise in the field.  The Physiology seminar course is scheduled from 4:00 – 5:00 most Mondays throughout the academic year.  Students are required to attend this weekly seminar, Ph.D. student dissertation defense seminars, and all special departmental seminars offered at other times throughout the academic year.

Grades:  Grades in the Medical Physiology and Translational Physiology courses (A, B, C, etc.) will be determined by performance on Multiple Choice exams administered at the end of each of the blocks of the courses (there are a total of 8 blocks for this pair of courses over the two terms) and weekly quizzes.  The Physiology seminar grade (A, B, or C) is determined by attendance at 75% or more of the weekly seminars and grades on quizzes over the seminar material administered via our course management system, Canvas.

Elective Areas of Concentration: By the first day of May each year, students may apply for an area of concentration and are evaluated by the MS in Medical Physiology Administration Committee the first week in May. The degree will officially remain "MS in Medical Physiology" but students can indicate, and the MS in Medical Physiology Administration Committee will acknowledge in all correspondence and letters of recommendation, that the student has completed an Area of Concentration. Current Areas of Concentrations include

  • Bioethics – Director:  Dr. Julian Stelzer
  • Clinical Investigation, Director: Dr. Thomas Nosek
  • Clinical Neuroscience, Director: Dr. Joe LaManna
  • Evolutionary Medicine, Director: Dr. Joe LaManna
  • Physiological Research, Director: Dr. William Schilling

Dual MS in Medical Physiology and MBA Degree Program: The Department of Physiology & Biophysics at Case Western Reserve University offers the MS in Medical Physiology program that caters to college graduates that strengthens their academic backgrounds prior to applying to medical school, dental school, graduate school, or other health professions programs and/or to enrich their credentials for the job market. The Weatherhead School of Management offers its MBA program which is recognized as an innovative approach to Management education and builds on a foundation of core skills to prepare graduates for what's happening in business right now.

The dual degree program prepares students to participate in the fields of medical research and management, health care management, as well as give students an opportunity to develop expertise in areas of substantive interest. Moreover, dual degree students are more likely to have greater job opportunities that are at the intersection of translational science and business/health care.

Students interested in this Dual Degree program apply to the MSMP program and take the first year of required core physiology courses.  If a student is in good standing after their first two semesters in the program (earned a GPA or at least 3.0 and passed the National Board of Medical Examiners Shelf Exam in Physiology and Neurophysiology), they may petition the MSMP Administration Committee by the first of May to enter the dual degree program.  Upon the recommendation of the MSMP Administration Committee, the student can then apply to the MBA program through the Weatherhead School of Management admissions process. 

Students in the MS/MBA program should take the GMAT exam the summer after their first two semesters in the MS part of the program in order to be eligible for financial aid through the Weatherhead School of Management

See the following link for more information: