Department of Medical Pharmacology and Physiology
In very broad terms, pharmacology is the study of interactions of chemicals with living organisms to produce biological effects. When such chemical interactions are applied to the treatment or cure of disease, the chemicals are often called drugs.
Pharmacology is concerned with all aspects of chemicals interacting with biological systems - from the molecular level to the whole body. Thus, pharmacology relies on knowledge of physiology, biochemistry, molecular biology, and other scientific disciplines to understand how drugs produce their effects.
A fundamental concept of pharmacology is that drugs bind to receptors to produce cellular responses. The observation that certain drugs interact with endogenous receptor molecules has led to the identification of the naturally-occurring neurotransmitters, hormones, or chemicals which activate that receptor and regulate a physiological response. Here at MU, the Pharmacology Faculty is actively involved in studying the regulation, expression, and identification of receptors, neurotransmitters, hormones, growth factors, other chemicals and the transmembrane signal transduction process which modulate ion transport, and regulate proliferation, differentiation, and apoptosis (programmed cell death).
Physiology is among the oldest disciplines of the basic biomedical sciences. The goal of physiological research is to understand the integrative function of living organisms from the level of molecules, to cells, to organs, to the whole organism. Research in physiology involves studies employing techniques including: molecular biology, biochemistry, cell and organ culture, patch clamping, NMR spectroscopy, and pharmacology, to understand the integration of mechanisms to achieve homeostasis in humans from the level of molecules to man. A physiologist emphasizes integration of the working parts.
For more than a quarter of a century the Department has been known for outstanding programs in exercise physiology and cardiovascular physiology (PDF). This excellence has been recognized for more than 24 years by the National Institutes of Health through continuous provision of a training grant offering financial support for graduate students and postdoctoral fellows. These programs were initiated by Dr. James O. Davis, an internationally recognized leader in research on endocrine mechanisms in hypertension and congestive heart failure. Faculty members recruited by him have assumed positions of major responsibility in the worldwide biomedical research community.
The Medical Pharmacology and Physiology Department and its modern research and teaching facilities are on campus in the School of Medicine. The research laboratories of the faculty have excellent equipment and maintenance support. The award-winning Health Sciences Library, containing a wide variety of current journals and resource books, is located in the School of Medicine. Modern student computer stations are also available. Animal quarters and animal care are under the direction of qualified veterinarians. Other important University facilities include a nuclear reactor for providing short-lived radioisotopes and a campus-wide computer network. The Center for Gender Physiology manages four core facilities that provide animal models, equipment and expertise required to explore gender differences in physiological function.
The Health Activity Center (HAC) at the University of Missouri is dedicated to education and promotion and to ending the 35 inactivity-related disorders. The Dalton Cardiovascular Research Center contains 32,000 square feet of modern research space that is principally devoted to investigating cardiovascular phenomena. An extensive animal research farm is available for housing and studying a large number of animal species.
Collaborative projects involve the Department of Medical Pharmacology and Physiology with faculty from the College of Veterinary Medicine as well as other departments in the School of Medicine.
The Life Sciences Center opened in September 2004 and will harness the collective and collaborative power of researchers from many disciplines to provide a state-of-the-art facility for discovery and education.