Michael J. Davis, PhD

Michael John Davis, PhD

Medical Pharmacology and Physiology

Curators' Distinguished Professor
Margaret Proctor Mulligan Professorship in Medical Research



Michael J Davis received a B.S. degree in Zoology from the University of California, Davis (1975) and a PhD in Physiology & Biophysics from the University of Nebraska Medical Center (1979). He did post-doctoral work at the University of Arizona before starting a faculty position in Medical Physiology at Texas A&M University (1985). He was promoted to Professor in 1996 and moved to the University of Missouri in 2005. His research has been continuously funded by the NIH since 1986 and continuously funded by multiple NIH grants since 1997. He has over 200 scientific publications. He currently holds a Margaret Proctor Mulligan Endowed Professorship and is a Curator’s Distinguished Professor at the University of Missouri.

Dr. Davis has trained 17 post-doctoral fellows, 3 PhD students and 5 Master’s students. He has trained and/or hosted 32 visiting scholars. He has served on the advisory committees of 48 PhD/MS students. His computer models of the action potential, synaptic transmission, cardiac function and other physiological processes are used by teaching faculty all over the world.

Academic Information

Curators' Distinguished Professor
Margaret Proctor Mulligan Professorship in Medical Research


1 Hospital Dr.
M451 Medical Sciences Building
Columbia, MO 65212
United States

P. 573-884-5181

Research Interests

The general theme of my research program is mechanotransduction by the blood and lymphatic vasculatures.

  • My recent research focuses on the mechanical and electrophysiological properties of lymphatic smooth muscle and endothelium and how their dysfunction contributes to lymphedema.
  • Currently funded as P.I. by two NIH R01 grants to study: 1) the ion channels involved in pacemaking of lymphatic muscle; and 2) the conduction of electrical signals along and across the lymphatic wall.
  • Serve as Co-I on three other NIH grants to contribute expertise in assessing mechanisms of lymphatic valve and contractile function in mouse models of human lymphatic disease, including lymphedema distichiasis, Cantu Syndrome and Ras-pathway mutations.

Areas of Expertise

  • My laboratory was one of the first to develop isolated vessel methods to study small arterioles, as well as patch clamp / calcium imaging methods to study mechanotransduction by single vascular cells.
  • We pioneered methods to study the mouse lymphatic system including:
    • 1) the assessment of contractile and transport properties (contraction frequency, strength and transport rate) under controlled pressure / flow;
    • 2) valve back-leak and leaflet closure tests at defined pressures;
    • 3) membrane potential measurements in lymphatic muscle and lymphatic endothelium;
    • 4) patch clamp characterization of specific ion channels in freshly isolated mouse lymphatic cells;
    • 5) optogenetic techniques for recording Ca2+ signals in select cell populations of the lymphatic wall using GCaMP indicators 
    • optogenetic techniques for manipulating cell signaling using genetically expressed channel rhodopsins.
  • We also study pressurized human lymphatic vessels, with which we seek to confirm the electrophysiology, contractile and valve properties identified in mice.
  • We have developed and maintain over 90 transgenic mouse models.

Education & Training

Post-Graduate School

1979, PhD, University of Nebraska Medical Center

Awards & Honors

  • 1990- Established Investigator, American Heart Association
  • 2001- Margaret Proctor Mulligan Professorship, University of Missouri
  • 2011- Eugene Landis Award, The Microcirculatory Society
  • 2018- Curators' Distinguished Professor, University of Missouri


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