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Physiology

Technologies

The Research Services Core (RSC) provides basic support for projects and programs in the department. The RSC facilities evolved from an original Program Project grant led by Dr. Cowley to a large group of professional engineers, machinists, computer programmers, systems analysts, histologists, and animal technicians who provide infrastructure support to all the research programs in the department. This core is supported from a variety of sources including, NIH grants, departmental resources, contracts, and institutional funds.

Resources

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Animal Resources
Research in the Department of Physiology depends on the availability of animal models and technologies that aid in the dissection and elucidation of human physiology and pathophysiology. Researchers in the department have recently completed the construction of inbred consomic rat strains for each chromosome. Technologies are available for chronic blood pressure measurement by indwelling catheter, tail-cuff or telemetry methods. Facilities have been constructed in-house for high-throughput chronic whole animal hypoxia exposure. In addition, the entire institution is supported by a state-of-the-art Biomedical Resource Center for the efficient and safe housing and maintenance of experimental animals.
Bioinformatics

The department has had a longstanding involvement with bioinformatics and related technologies. The advent of physiological genomics and the widespread trend towards large-scale analyses and the resulting data management has driven this need. Bioinformatics research in the department ranges from individual databases and software applications that support internal research projects to large-scale public databases that provide data and bioinformatics tools for users worldwide. The Bioinformatics Program plays a central role in the bioinformatics projects, providing the core software and database development expertise that supports many other efforts.

Large-scale public programs

  • PhysGen Program for Genomics Applications
    PhysGen generates large quantities of physiological data linked to specific consomic rat strains. The PGA bioinformatics component is responsible for the database, website and statistical tools that enable researchers to utilize this rich data set. 
  • NHLBI National Proteomics Center
    MCW houses one of ten U.S. proteomics centers. Its bioinformatics component focuses on data analysis and algorithms for MS/MS proteomics experiments.
Computational Biology
A more recent development in the department has been the establishment of research in the area of Computational Biology. The broad goals of this discipline include developing computational technology for predicting and analyzing the behavior of biological systems and guiding engineering-based manipulations of these systems. Physiological systems are created and maintained and destroyed by the interactions of complex networks of biological components. Traditional wet-lab science strives to identify these components and observe their interactions in vivo or in vitro. Computation biology adds mathematical modeling and offers the promise of being able to model the experimental observations and create, test and refine hypotheses in silico.

Current computational biology research in the department includes projects designed to predict the behavior of large-scale biochemical networks, developing computational models of the transport and biochemical reaction of metabolites and other substances in the myocardium systems, and multiscale modeling of the heart in health and disease.
Experimental Physiology
The Department of Physiology at MCW has a reputation for consistently developing new and important technologies in experimental physiology to further our understanding of whole animal physiology. From in vivo techniques such as site-directed drug infusions, muscle stimulation for induction of angiogenesis and innovative models of stroke to in situ models such as renal micropuncture and television microscopy for vessel reactivity studies, Physiology Department faculty members have developed a large arsenal of tools for conducting cutting-edge research.
Genomics
A technology platform is comprised of both the research expertise and the technology needed to enable virtually any investigator at MCW to conduct state-of-the-art research in the area of functional genomics, particularly as it relates to human disease. Each of these technology platforms is being used by faculty members both inside and outside the Genomic Sciences and Precision Medicine Center at MCW. Numerous technology platforms are being used by members of the department to further studies in physiology and genetics. Platforms are available to other Physiology Department faculty members and their laboratories within core facilities in the department and the GSPMC.