Current Students


The major goals of the Integrative Physiology and Metabolism doctoral program at ECU are to provide students with foundational knowledge in physiology and metabolism, and to train our students to apply this knowledge towards original high-quality research in an inclusive environment that fosters collaboration and mentorship. Through this work we aim to provide a well-rounded and rigorously trained next generation of scientists.

Doctoral Program Overview

The Integrative Physiology and Metabolism doctoral program focuses on the fundamental principles of physiology ranging from mechanistic regulation to organ system biology to metabolism. The knowledge base is set in the first year to allow students to appreciate whole organism ramifications of their research and be able to interact with the world of medical research as a knowledgeable colleague. Our doctoral program is encompassed within the broader Biomedical Sciences Programs of ECU’s Brody School of Medicine. The program consists of a core curriculum for Biomedical Sciences, combined with the requirements of Integrative Physiology and Metabolism. Throughout the program students choose elective courses tailored to the study of physiology, the expertise of our faculty, and the student’s interests. Our faculty teach to medical professions and graduate students, fully dedicating our energy towards advanced education in the biomedical field and our strong research program.

Outline of our Doctoral Program:

Stage 1 Pre-Candidacy (Years 1-2)

  • Enroll for and pass coursework requirements of the Biomedical Sciences PhD and for the Integrative Physiology and Metabolism doctoral program. (see Requirements and an example program of study below).
  • Each student will be assigned an Advisory Committee for support and guidance until a dissertation committee has been selected
  • Select a dissertation advisor prior to Fall of year 2

Stage 2 Transition to Candidacy: Research Proposal and Research (Year 2-3)

  • Form a dissertation committee of at least 4 faculty members, 3 of whom must be graduate faculty members in Integrative Physiology and Metabolism, and at least one committee member must be a graduate faculty member in another department/concentration
  • Take and pass Comprehensive exam
  • Schedule and defend Research Proposal <6 months after passing the Comprehensive exam

Stage 3 Doctoral Candidacy: Complete Research (Semesters 5 and on)

  • Conduct research study, publish papers, and present at conferences local/national/abroad as logistically available
  • Complete all elective/required coursework
  • Meet with Dissertation Committee regularly
  • Gain approval from the Dissertation Committee to present and pass a Dissertation defense to complete degree.

Doctoral Coursework

General Core: required by the Biomedical Sciences PhD program of study

  • Statistics: BIOS 7021 Biostatistics for Health Professionals OR PHAR 7777 Practical Problems in Biometry, 2 credits
  • Ethics: HUMS 7004 Ethics and Research, 2 credits
  • Seminar: PHLY 7715 This seminar includes all first-year students in the Biomedical Sciences PhD and Masters Programs, 2 semesters, 1 credit each

Integrative Physiology and Metabolism Core:

  • PHYL 7701 Graduate Physiology I, 4 credits. Includes concepts and in-depth learning of key aspects in cellular physiology, bioenergetics, and organ systems.
  • PHYL 7702 Graduate Physiology II, 4 credits. Includes concepts and in-depth learning of key aspects in additional organ systems, whole body physiology and metabolism.
  • PHYL 7705 Critical Thinking in Physiology, 4 credits. This course is dedicated to understanding the key cellular mechanisms that regulate physiological function and their health-related impacts.  Particular emphasis will be paid to developing independent and critical thought of current literature on the topic of physiology.

A total of 76 credit hours are required to complete the doctoral program.

Example of recommended electives include the following, and can be tailored to the student’s interests:

  • ANAT 7365 Research Proposal Strategies, 2 credits. Formal instruction, critique, and practice in writing a research grant proposal.
  • BIOC 7301 Biochemistry I, 3 credits. Examination of the structure, function, and chemistry of biomolecules, and their relationship to human metabolism. Includes the structure and chemistry of simple and complex biomolecules as related to cell functions and physiological roles and catabolic and anabolic pathways of biomolecules as tied to physiological and pharmacological processes.
  • BIOC 8320, Biochemistry II, 4 credits. Regulation and integration of metabolism of carbohydrates, lipids, nucleic acids, and amino acids in humans, with an emphasis on primary research literature.
  • BIOC 7310 Molecular Biochemistry, 3 credits. Replication, translation, and expression of genetic information and its regulation.
  • PHLY 7703 Graduate Neuroscience, 4 credits. Fundamental concepts underlying the normal function of the nervous system. Focuses on select aspects of the mammalian nervous system, highlights the role of the nervous system in the control of end-organ function, including metabolic functions, development and aging, and integrates current research at the system, cellular, molecular, and genetic levels from participating faculty.
  • MCBI 7410/ANAT 7202 Molecular Cell Biology, 4 credits. Foundational cornerstone for students interested in a contemporary research career. Principles of modern molecular biology as applied to the study of cell structure and function. Includes fundamentals of molecular and cellular biology of both prokaryotes and eukaryotes, and techniques used to study these problems. Emphasis on critical analysis of experimental data and experimental basis of current knowledge of cellular processes.
  • PHAR 7680 Toxicology, 4 credits. Principles of toxicology and the mechanisms that underlie toxic effects from the subcellular to the organism level will be discovered. In addition, patterns of toxicity of specific chemicals will be discussed, as well as how those results can be employed in risk assessment.
  • MCBI 7450 Immunology, 4 credits. Concise presentation of immunology, immunity, and immunopathology. Immunology includes principles of induction and expression of specific immune responses. Immunochemical and cellular principles of immune responses. Immunity includes role of immune reactions in infections and cancer. Immunopathology emphasizes roles of immune system in tissue damage and disease.
  • PHARM 7660 Cardiovascular Pharmacology, 3 credits. Pathophysiology and pharmacotherapeutics of cardiovascular diseases through directed literature readings, class presentations and discussions.
  • PHLY 8710 Advanced Topics: Mitochondrial Diagnostics, 3 credits. This is a non-traditional course designed to culminate in a peer-reviewed publication. Students gain a detailed understanding of the thermodynamic, kinetic and stoichiometric factors that comprise and regulate mitochondrial energy transduction. Participants then work as a team to leverage classroom instruction into direct experimentation to answer a pre-defined research question related to mitochondrial biology. For more information on the class, see our ECU news article

Example Doctoral Plan of Study

Semester 1

PHYL 7701 Grad Phys I4
PHLY 7715 Seminar (BMSC)1
PHLY 7715 Seminar (Physiology)1
PHLY 7740 Intro to Research3
Optional Elective

Semester 2

PHYL 7702 Grad Phys II4
PHAR 7777 Biometry (Stats)3
PHLY 7715 Seminar (BMSC)1
PHLY 7715 Seminar (Physiology)1
Optional Elective

Semester 3

PHYL 7705 Critical Thinking in Phys4
HUMS 7004 Ethics2
PHLY 7710 Adv. Topics (research)3
PHLY 7715 Seminar (Physiology)1
Optional Elective

Semester 4

PHYL 7710 Adv. Topics (research)3-6
PHLY 7715 Seminar (Physiology)1
ANAT 7365 Research Proposal Strategies2
Optional Elective

Semester 5-10

PHYL 7710 Adv. Topics (research) OR PHLY 9000 Dissertation Research
PHLY 7715 Seminar (Physiology)
Optional Elective

Here are some resources for our treasured current students to promote success:
Academic Regulations at ECU

For information on Coursework: see Biomedical Sciences PhD site or Biomedical Sciences Masters site

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