Molecular & Integrative Physiology

Molecular and integrative physiology lab

The Program in Biomedical Sciences at the University of Michigan is an interdisciplinary gateway program that coordinates admissions and the first year of Ph.D. studies for 14 department programs, including Molecular & Integrative Physiology.

PIBS offers you the flexibility and convenience of applying to any of our participating programs through one application. We invite you to thoroughly explore Molecular & Integrative Physiology and the other 13 programs before selecting your top preferences when you apply.

Program Overview

The Department of Physiology was established over 130 years ago and is among the oldest physiology departments in the country. In 2002, the department’s name was changed to Molecular and Integrative Physiology (MIP) to more completely reflect our mission and the nature of our work.

Our department has a storied history and a strong tradition for outstanding leadership in teaching, research and graduate education. Our graduate program has extensive opportunities for student interaction with faculty, departmental participation, and the development of leadership and teaching skills. Student success is our top priority and many of students have gone on to become leaders in their respective fields.

MIP has 30-35 Ph.D. students and some 50 faculty, including joint appointees. Approximately five to six students join our program each year. Our faculty members are exceptionally well funded, and they play key leadership roles in University of Michigan institutes, centers and core facilities.

Research Areas

Physiologists use the cutting-edge techniques employed by modern biomedical scientists, including genomics, proteomics, epigenetic, cell and molecular biological, and computational methods. We exploit the unique advantages of a variety of animal models including nematode worms, fruit flies, mice and humans. What sets physiology apart from other biomedical disciplines is that understanding the roles of genes and their products is not just restricted to the cell they are expressed in, but integrated into the tissue, organ and organism to explain function in both health and disease states.

Physiologists specialize in these integrative aspects of biology, identifying not just the important components but how these fit together and how integrative aspects are altered by environmental factors and disease. This makes physiology the science closest to medicine, and translational research is indeed a strength of the department. We are among the few physiology departments in the US that has an international reputation in areas as diverse as aging, metabolism, neuroscience, muscle (cardiac and skeletal), reproductive, gastrointestinal and circadian physiology.

Explore our faculty.

Program Requirements


MIP is a vibrant program in modern physiology – the study of how genes, molecules and cells interact to coordinate the function of dynamic systems and living organisms. Courses are geared to prepare students to think creatively and to integrate these various levels of organization. Our success has been recognized with several NIH-sponsored training grants lead by our faculty members. The goal of these grants and of our graduate program is to provide state-of-the-art training to equip our students with the tools needed to study the mechanisms of physiology from the cellular and molecular level through integrated systems and organismal biology.

Preliminary Examination

Students take the preliminary examination by the end of the Fall Term of their second year.

Teaching Requirement

All MIP students are required to serve as a teaching assistant for one term. Additional teaching opportunities are available to match the career opportunities of our students.

Expected Length of Program

Usually four and half to six years. Mentoring and tracking the success and progress of our students is a criticial component of our program.

Student Interests

In an effort to enhance professional development and promote leadership skills, as well as provide opportunities for recreation and informal social interactions, MIP sponsors a wide variety of activities as part of the overall graduate experience.

Student Recognition and Global Outreach Activities

MIP sponsors an annual student-organized research symposium that includes inviting an internationally renowned speaker (selected by the students), poster and oral presentation by students and numberous research and service student awards. In addition, MIP has established an educational collaboration with Trinity College in Dublin, Ireland that allows research collaborations and two-way student visits across the Atlantic; other programs with Israel and Italy are in development.

Social Activities

MIP holds plenty of social events throughout the year, including monthly pub nights, fall picnic, spring BBQ, Detroit Tigers baseball game, holiday party and ice skating.

Sports Teams

Intramural sports include softball and broomball, with an annual softball game between the graduate students and faculty during a department picnic. Many students participate in a wide range of available intramural team sports.

Student Luncheons

Students can expect to attend these regularly scheduled luncheons on a variety of topics, including: department policy and developments, plan recruiting activities, discuss and select student-hosted seminar speakers, and more.

Career Expectations

More than 200 alumni have obtained the Ph.D. in MIP (and formerly Physiology). A vast majority of these alumni enjoy highly successful careers and leadership roles in science, academia, industry, administration and medicine.