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Welcome to the Department of Physiology & Biophysics

The theme of research and strength in the Department of Physiology and Biophysics is integration of knowledge obtained from studies at the level of molecules, cells, and organs to understand functions of the body as a whole organism. The main objective of our department is to understand basic mechanisms, and defects in these mechanisms, with the goal of translating this information into diagnoses, therapies and prevention of clinical disorders. Our faculty members lead teams in translational research including drug discovery related to heart failure, hypertension, depression, cancer, and reproductive diseases..

Department Head: Jan Kitajewski, PhD,
Department Business Contact: Lea Smucker,

Department News and Events

December 8th 2017. Faculty award: John Solaro, PhD
Congratulations to Dr. John Solaro on receiving the Arthur C. Guyton Distinguished Lectureship Award. This award was instituted in 2006 to recognize outstanding and cutting-edge research in physiology or related areas. Dr. Solaro gave his lecture: "Sarcomere Signaling and Guyton’s Analysis of Cardiac Output Regulation" at this year's Association of Chairs of Departments of Physiology (ACDP) meeting.

December 4th 2017. Student Award: Alexandra Socovich
Please join us in congratulating Alexandra (Lexie) Socovich from Alexandra Naba’s lab on receiving the Chancellor's Graduate Research Award for her project “Understanding the role of the novel extracellular matrix protein SNED1 in breast cancer metastasis”

November 16th 2017. 28th Annual Awards Recognition Evening
The Department of Physiology and Biophysics gathered on November 16th, 2017 to celebrate the accomplishment of our faculty, postdoctoral, student and staff awardees. We were honored to also have several members of the Lambrecht family with us. Special congratulations to Bertha Vandergrift (Dr. Brodie’s Lab) for the Mark R. Lambrecht award for scholarship and commitment, David Ryba (Dr. Solaro’s Lab) for the Kate Bárány graduate student award and Dr. Carlos Stocco for the Dr. C. Philip L. Hawley distinguished faculty award. Photos of the event may be viewed here.

November 8th 2017. Publications from the department: Mark Brodie, PhD
We would like to congratulate Dr. Mark Brodie’s team and Dr. Amy Lasek from the department of Psychiatry for their recent publication: Estradiol increases the sensitivity of ventral tegmental area dopamine neurons to dopamine and ethanol. The article describes how high levels of estrogen increase the alcohol sensitivity of the ventral tegmental area (the “reward center”) in the brain. As to Dr. Lasek explains it: “This means that women might be more vulnerable to the effects of alcohol or more likely to overindulge during certain stages of their cycle when estrogen levels are higher, or may be more likely to seek out alcohol during those stages”. Read more about it at UIC News.

November 1st 2017: Publications from the Department: Carlos Stocco, PhD
Congratulation to Dr. Stocco and his team for their recent publication: Regulation of AMH by oocyte-specific growth factors in human primary cumulus cells in Reproduction which was selected as Editor's Choice. AMH levels are widely used as a maker for ovarian reserve in fertility assessments. This work provides an insight into the regulation of AMH in humans, which will help to more accurately interpret circulating levels of AMH in clinical applications, such as infertility treatments.

October 26th, 2017: Undergraduate Research Grants - Kyleen Jan, Morgan Win and Kevin Kappenman
Congratulations to Kyleen Jan and Morgan Win, undergraduate research assistants in the Naba lab, and Kevin Kappenman in the Russell Lab, for having been awarded Undergraduate Research Grants from UIC's Honors College!

October 1st, 2017. Trainees awards: Yash Patel, Christopher Solis, and Taliha Nadeem
Congratulations to Yash Patel for being awarded a Chancellor's Undergraduate Research Award (CURA) to conduct research in the Naba lab!
Congratulations to Dr. Christopher Solis, Postodc in the Russell lab, and Ms. Taliha Nadeem, Master's student in the Cuervo lab for being awarded poster prizes at the 2017 CCVR Research Symposium.

September 26th, 2017. Congratulations Dr. O'Donnell on being awarded an R01 from the NIGMS!
Our own Dr. J. Michael O'Donnell and Dr. Terry Vanden Hoek (Head, Emergency Medicine), both member of UIC Center for Cardio-Vascular Research (CCVR), were awarded a multi-PI grant from the NIGMS for their application entitled: "Novel Therapies for CPR". The study tests a new bio-therapeutic designed to improve survival and recovery from sudden cardiac arrest using a TAT fused PTEN inhibitor peptide administered at the time of CPR. Again, congratulations Dr. O'Donnell.

August 3rd 2017. Publications from the department: Henar Cuervo, PhD
Congratulations to Dr. Cuervo and her team in their newly published manuscript: PDGFRβ-P2A-CreERT2 mice: a genetic tool to target pericytes in angiogenesis. This novel mouse line will be instrumental in the vascular field and will allow to gain a deeper understanding of the role of pericytes in physiological and pathological settings.

July 31st 2017. Publications from the department: Alexandra Naba, PhD
More exciting research from Dr. Naba has recently been accepted for publication: The in-silico zebrafish matrisome: A new tool to study extracellular matrix gene and protein functions. The zebrafish is one of the most utilized model organisms in biomedical research. This first in-silico zebrafish matrisome report will most certainly be helpful in both fundamental and translational discoveries.

July 13th 2017. Publications from the department: Carlos Stocco, PhD
Dr. Stocco’s article IGF1R Expression in Ovarian Granulosa Cells Is Essential for Steroidogenesis, Follicle Survival, and Fertility in Female Mice was selected as one of three papers that will be featured on the homepage for the July issue of Endocrinology. Read more about it here: Female Fertility: It Takes Two to Tango. Congratulations to Dr. Stocco and his team!

July 10th 2017. Publications from the department: Alexandra Naba, PhD
Another great publication from our faculty member Dr. Naba: Characterization of the ECM of normal and diseased tissues using proteomics. In this article, you will find protocols to extract and analyze extracellular matrix proteins from normal and diseased tissues. These protocols are presented using 2 examples: Triple-negative breast cancer and adjacent mammary tissue, and omental metastasis from high-grade serous ovarian cancer and normal omentum. This type of characterization of the extracellular matrix provides a framework for identification of extracellular matrix proteins that might have diagnostic or therapeutic value.

June 26th 2017. Publications from the department: Alexandra Naba, PhD
Congratulations Dr. Naba on a new fantastic publication Quantitative proteomics identify Tenascin-C as a promoter of lung cancer progression and contributor to a signature prognostic of patient survival. In this article in collaboration with the group of Dr. Tyler Jacks, the authors characterized the extracellular matrix composition of the healthy lung, fibrotic lung, and lung primary tumors and metastases to establish specific profiles linked to the different types of lung disease. They identified that expression of genes encoding for Tenascin-C, S100A10, and S100A11 can predict survival in patients with lung adenocarcinoma. Using mouse models, they demonstrate that increased Tenascin-C leads to enhances metastasis in the lung. Their findings shed light into new diagnostic markers and potential therapeutic targets for lung cancer.

June 10th 2017. Student Award: David Ryba
Please join me in congratulating David Ryba on his Young Investigator Award from the North American Section of the International Society for Heart Research (ISHR). This annual award was established by ISHR to recognize outstanding research in the field of cardiovascular science by young investigators. A panel of judges selected the recipient based on scientific merit of the manuscript, quality of the presentation, and responses to questions asked during the discussion period. David’s co-advisors are John Solaro and Beata Wolska.

May 4th 2017. Faculty On The News: Mark Rasenick, PhD
The current research of our faculty member Dr. Mark Rasenick and his team has been recently featured in a news article in the prestigious journal Nature: Party drug's power to fight depression puzzles scientists. Dr. Rasenick has a long-standing interest and expertise in the cellular and molecular mechanisms of action of antidepressants. His work identifying how ketamine (an anesthetic, also used as a recreational drug) rearranges the membrane of cultured rat glial cells after only 15 minutes of exposure sheds important light into novel mechanisms of action of this drug and is a great contribution to the quest of finding optimal medications to treat depression.

May 1st 2017. Publications From The Department: Alexandra Naba, PhD
Another great article from Dr. Naba has been recently accepted for publication: Proteomic characterization of human multiple myeloma bone marrow extracellular matrix. In this manuscript the authors profile the extracellular matrix composition of the bone marrow from patients with multiple myeloma. They also describe how changes occurring in the extracellular matrix composition during this disease might provide useful prognostic markers for multiple myeloma survival outcomes.

April 12th 2017. Publications From The Department: Carlos Stocco, PhD
Congratulations to Dr. Stocco and his lab for their work entitled GF1R Expression in Ovarian Granulosa Cells is Essential for Steroidogenesis, Follicle Survival, and Fertility in Female Mice where they describe the critical role that Insulin-like Growth Factor 1 Receptor (IGF1R) plays in Granulosa Cell function. Understanding how IGF1R signaling regulates Granulosa Cell function and Follicle growth will aid on the design on future female fertility treatments.

April 12th 2017. Publications From The Department: Chong Wee Liew, PhD and Michael O’Donnell, PhD
This is a great example of collaborations within our department. Congratulations to the team of Dr. Liew and Dr. O’Donnell on their recently published manuscript: Multiphasic Regulation of Systemic and Peripheral Organ Metabolic Responses to Cardiac Hypertrophy. Their study elucidates how the metabolic response changes in a mouse model of cardiac hypertrophy. These findings point to possible new avenues for treating cardiovascular and metabolic diseases.

April 10th 2017. Publications From The Department: Jonna Frasor, PhD
We would like to congratulate Dr. Frasor and her team for their published work: A Novel Strategy to Co-target Estrogen Receptor and Nuclear Factor κB Pathways with Hybrid Drugs for Breast Cancer Therapy. In this manuscript, they demonstrate how hybrid drugs which inhibit both the Estrogen Receptor and the NFkB pathway may represent a new approach to targeting Breast Cancer.

April 5th 2017. Faculty award: Mark Rasenick, PhD
We are proud of our faculty member Dr. Rasenick, who is the recipient of the 2017 College of Medicine Faculty of the Year Award. This award recognizes his contributions in the field of neuroscience, his commitment to the advancement of international scientific cooperation, and his long-term contributions as a scholar and educator.

March 21st 2017. Publications From The Department: Alexandra Naba, PhD
Check out the newly published paper from our faculty member Alexandra Naba where they characterize the composition of the extracellular matrix produced in vitro by different types of mesenchymal stem cells: Comprehensive proteomic characterization of stem cell-derived extracellular matrices. This study also highlights the importance of the extracellular matrix in the biology and specific properties of different mesenchymal stem cell populations. Congratulations on your work, Dr. Naba!

January 9th 2017. Our YouTube channel is now live
Tune in to learn about the research conducted in our department and updates on trends in biomedical research and education.
Link: Physiology YouTube Channel