Research Lab Bench
Allen Cowley, Jr., PhD

Allen W. Cowley, Jr., PhD

Harry & Gertrude Hack Term Professorship in Physiology

Contact Information


PhD, Physiology and Biophysics, Hahnemann Medical University, 1968
BA, Economics, Trinity College, 1961


Allen W. Cowley, Jr., PhD has been Professor and Chair of the Department of Physiology at the Medical College of Wisconsin since 1980. He earned his doctorate in Physiology from Hahnemann Medical College in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania working with Dr. John Scott before joining Dr. Arthur Guyton in the department of Physiology and Biophysics at the University of Mississippi Medical Center where he rose to the rank of Professor.

Dr. Cowley has served as President of the American Physiological Society (APS) as well as the President of the International Union of Physiological Sciences and Chair of the Council for High Blood Pressure Research of the American Heart Association (AHA). He has received the Walter Cannon, the Ernest Starling, the Carl Wiggers, and Ray Daggs Awards from the APS and the Novartis Award from the Council for High Blood Pressure Research and the Distinguished Scientist Award of the AHA. His research has been continuously funded by the National Institutes of Health since 1971 during which time he has mentored over fifty fellows and students in his laboratory resulting in over 325 publications in peer-reviewed journals.

Leadership Positions

  • Professor and Chairman, Department of Physiology

Research Interests

Cardiovascular Physiology | Genetics and Genomics | Renal Physiology

Dr. Cowley has made seminal findings related to the role of the baroreceptor reflexes, the renin-angiotensin system and vasopressin in both the short and long-term regulation of arterial blood pressure. His research has revealed the importance of the renal medullary circulation in sodium homeostasis and the long-term control or arterial pressure. He proposed the novel hypothesis and then demonstrated that small reductions of blood flow to medulla of the kidney can produce chronic hypertension. More recent work has determined the impact of arterial pressure on the production of oxidative stress and renal injury in the renal medulla of hypertensive rats. During the past decade, he has pioneered efforts to attach systems level biology to the genome providing novel insights into the location of genes that underlie complex disease planting the seeds for the field now referred to as "physiological genomics".

Currently he directs two program project grants; one focused on the kidney and the physiological mechanism of blood pressure control and the second exploring the genetic basis of salt-sensitive hypertension.

Fields of major interest

  • Control mechanisms of cardiac output and arterial pressure
  • Neural and reflex control of the circulation (low and high pressure baroreceptor reflex mechanism)
  • Autoregulation of blood flow
  • Renal function and regulation of renal medullary blood flow
  • Reactive oxygen species and nitric oxide in kidney function
  • Fluid and electrolyte regulation (physical factors and neural and endocrine factors)
  • Vasopressin in cardiovascular control and fluid and electrolyte regulation
  • Mechanisms of hypertension
  • Genetics of hypertension
  • Physiological genomics
  • Publications