Mark Milanick, PhD


Mark Milanick, PhD, current research focuses on developing ways to measure physiological and clinical parameters that can be done at home-either by patients or for students doing online labs. Recent NIH-funded research supports developing erythrosensors, where infrared fluorescent dyes are incorporated inside red blood cells and can then be returned to the donor. Our team notes any changes in the dye that occur in response to blood glucose, pH, and other parameters, which are measured similarly to how pulse-oximeters measure blood oxygen saturation. A previous NIH R01 grant studied the kinetics of membrane transport as a way to understand the mechanism. For example, extracellular protons activate sulfate influx on the anion exchanger in red blood cells. At a neutral pH, sulfate flux is more than 1,000 times slower than chloride flux but at low pH sulfate flux is nearly as fast as chloride transport. The extracellular sodium pump transport site has a substantially higher affinity for potassium than sodium at neutral pH, but at alkaline pH, the site is essentially non-selective. Extracellular protons are transported by the plasma membrane calcium pump with a 1 Ca/2 H stoichiometry.  In the absence of extracellular divalent cations, the pK for proton activation is about 9 but under physiological conditions, the pK is approximately 7.4.

Milanick has developed multiple education courses, including Toxins, the Good, the Bad, and the Beautiful, Bodily Fluids and Their Function, Filtering Fact From Fiction with TV crime and Medical Shows, and Science of Sex, Drugs, and Rock'n'Roll. As an outgrowth of his teaching courses and labs, Milanick has published practitioner articles that help students master membrane potential, solve clinical cases and more in journals such as Advances in Physiology Education, Journal of Chemical Education, and The Physics Teacher. Milanick also served as the PI for a NIH Interdisciplinary Training Grant (T90/R90), From Bench to Bedside and Back: Training Clinical Biodetectives. The training grant required each student to have three mentors: a clinical mentor to advise on the translation of the project, an invention mentor to advise on developing a new chemical, instrument, and more, and a life science mentor to advise on testing the device or invention in a living system.

He has also worked on cortisol-both on methods of measurement as well as analysis with colleagues in the wildlife department and with breast cancer survivors.

Academic Information

Professor Emeritus

Research Interests

  • Erythrosensors
  • Active teaching innovations
  • Point of care techniques
  • Red blood cell physiology
  • Kinetics of membrane transport

Areas of Expertise

  • Sodium Pump Kinetics
  • Plasma Membrane Calcium Pump Kinetics
  • Flipped Classroom Activities
  • Red Blood Cell Physiology
  • Cortisol Physiology

Education & Training


1986, Postdoc, Yale University

Post-Graduate School

1981, PhD, University of Chicago

Awards & Honors

  • NIH funding for 18 years
  • NIH T90/R90 training grant PI
  • NIH postdoctoral fellowship
  • NSF predoctoral fellowship
  • IUPAB travel award to International Physiology Congress, Australia.
  • National Academy of Sciences Eastern European Exchange Fellowship


  • Kinesthetic and visual scaffolding for understanding oxygen delivery and reading hemoglobin oxygen curves. Milanick MA. Adv Physiol Educ. 2021 Mar 1;45(1):121-128. doi: 10.1152/advan.00085.2019. PMID: 33544036
  • Milanick, M. Point of View: Confusing Science Vocabulary: When Negative Is Positive! Journal of college science teaching 49: 6, 2020.
  • Prstojevich A, Uetrecht M, Watkins SN, Milanick MA. Elephants, snorkels, pressures: modeling snorkeling at depth. Adv Physiol Educ. 2019 Jun 1;43(2):155-158. doi: 10.1152/advan.00191.2018. PubMed PMID: 30933537.
  • Milanick MA. Close, squeeze, open: introducing the cardiac cycle and pressure-volume loop. Adv Physiol Educ. 2018 Jun 1;42(2):390-392. doi: 10.1152/advan.00005.2018. PubMed PMID: 29761709.
  • Guevara KA, Milanick MA. Clarifying renal clearance by visualizing virtual volumes. Adv Physiol Educ. 2017 Sep 1;41(3):441-443. doi: 10.1152/advan.00006.2017. PubMed PMID: 28679585.
  • Clarifying renal clearance by visualizing virtual volumes. KA  Guevara and MA Milanick. Advances Physiology Education. 41:441-443, 2017.
  • Samantha Browning, Margaret Urschler, Katherine Meidl, Brenda Peculis, Mark Milanick  Using a thyroid case study and error plausibility to introduce basic lab skills. Bioscene, 43:29-37
  • Parker E. Stuart, Kelsey D. Stuart, and Mark A. Milanick. The Peeing Pitcher: An Inquiry Based Case Study of the Renal System, The American Biology Teacher, Vol. 79 No. 5, May 2017; (pp. 387-392)
  • Katherine Meidl, Samantha Browning, Margaret Urschler, Basima Khan, Mark Milanick Did foul play lead to the patient’s comas? Investigating possible attempted murders by insulin and related compounds. American Biology Teacher, 78(5):417-423. 2016.
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