Note from the Chairman
"Physiology is a subject concerned with all aspects of bodily functions. A mechanistic perspective visualizes physiological pumps, thermostats, valves, permeable membranes, molecular receptors, chemical and photoelectric cells, ventilators, reservoirs, scavenger cells, and of course zippers to line up amino acids in protein synthesis." This statement was made in 1979 by Dr. Walter H. Seegers, Chairman of the Wayne State University Department of Physiology from 1946 to 1980. In the same year, I was taking my first physiology course in medical school, gaining this very insight on how to look at each part of the human body on microscopic and molecular levels. Today, more than three decades later, this dream of a molecular to atomic understanding of how the human body works and how diseases develop has very much been realized—a tribute to the value of energetic scientific pursuit.
When Alfred Nobel established the five original Nobel Prizes in 1895, the category Physiology or Medicine was created with the great vision of rewarding progress through scientific discovery in the laboratory setting. More than a century has passed since Nobel's time, and Physiology continues to be a core discipline of the medical sciences, an essential foundation in both medical education and biomedical research.
Our Department has a proud 100(+)-year history of scientific discoveries: C.L. Schneider's blood coagulation studies, W.H. Seegers's thrombin crystals, P. Foa's discovery of glucagon, M. Barnhart's contribution to the treatment of sickle cell disease, just to name a few. And new achievements are continuously being made by the present members of our Department, who are currently vigorously pursuing research on the molecular mechanisms of endocrine and metabolic signaling, cell secretion, mechanoregulation of cell motility, neurohumoral control of cardiovascular, respiratory and renal functions, myocardial protection and adaptation, stroke, muscle contractility and heart failure, and molecular and cellular biotechnologies.
Being over 100 years old as a Department, we are well-positioned to take on new challenges and capture new opportunities. Celebrating our glorious history and past achievements is also a golden opportunity to strengthen ourselves and prepare for the future. We live in a rapidly changing world and our three main endeavors in the Department—producing physicians with high competence in medicine, conducting biomedical research to enrich scientific knowledge and improve health, and training future scientists, researchers and medical school instructors—continue to evolve just as rapidly. We play a critical role in the future of science and medicine, and as a physician, a researcher, and an educator, I take my profession in academic medicine with great pride and responsibility. Alongside my outstanding Physiology colleagues in the Department, at the School of Medicine and the University, as well as across the nation and around the globe, I am confident that we will continue to pave the road towards innovation, discovery, and success.
Joseph Dunbar, Ph.D.
Professor & Chair