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Departments: Physiology

Osteopathic Medicine in Downers Grove


Chair: Kathleen O'Hagan, Ph.D.

Physiology is the branch of the life sciences concerned with the function of living systems. Health is customarily defined in physiologic terms: disease is perceived as a deviation from the normal physiologic states of the body. In addition, disease states and their associated symptomatology are understood and diagnosed through a refined appreciation of the diverse regulatory processes that maintain the normal functional status of the human body.

The Physiology Department offers courses to medical, pharmacy, and allied health students that provide a comprehensive understanding of the functions of the various organs and organ systems, as well as a sound basis for comprehending the adaptations and functional transitions that occur in disease. Mastery of physiologic concepts and problem-based learning are emphasized to provide a foundation that will be conducive to the development of diagnostic skills. In addition to conventional didactic instruction, small-group clinical case discussion sessions are used to promote critical thinking, problem-solving, and application of physiologic concepts and principles to clinically relevant problems.

Medical students interested in research are encouraged to participate in ongoing research projects as a part of CCOM's Summer Research Fellowship Program. Current research interests of the faculty include a variety of areas associated with cardiovascular physiology, such as diabetes, exercise training, autonomic nervous system control, hypertension, and cellular energetics. Opportunities are available for highly motivated, exceptional students to enroll in a combined D.O./Ph.D.program. Students who are considering graduate work and research in physiology should discuss their interests with members of the faculty.

1501 Physiology I
This course, offered to medical students, presents the biophysics, functional properties and regulation of excitable cells, skeletal muscle, and cardiovascular. A discussion of circulatory fluid dynamics, peripheral vascular tone, blood pressure, and electrical and mechanical activity of the heart will be included in the cardiovascular section of the course. The course concludes with an examination of the interrelationships and integrated functions of the circulatory and pulmonary systems. Small-group case discussions facilitate the development of critical thinking and problem-solving skills as the students use basic physiologic concepts to understand the pathogenesis of signs and symptoms in specific case studies.

1502 Physiology II
This course, offered to medical students, is a sequel to Physiology 1501 that builds on the physiological foundations developed during the preceding semester. The initial section of the course presents the function, mechanism of action, regulation, and integration of the respiration, renal, and gastrointestinal organ systems that maintain body homeostasis through fluid, electrolyte, and nutritional balance. The endocrine section of the course presents the function, mechanism of action, and regulation of specific hormones. Small-group discussions continue to refine critical thinking and problem-solving skills as the students identify the physiologic and pathophysiologic mechanisms underlying the signs and symptoms described in pertinent clinical case studies.


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