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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

July 23rd 2018. Trainees in the Spotlight: David Ryba, PhD
David Ryba, who recently obtained his PhD in our department working with Dr. Solaro and Dr. Wolska, was selected by the editors of Circulation Research to be profiled as part of their ongoing series of interviews designed to highlight the experiences and insights of recent trainees. Check out his interview here.

July 16th 2018. Publications from the department: Alexandra Naba, PhD
Don't miss the recent review from Dr. Naba's lab: The cancer matrisome: from comprehensive characterization to biomarker discovery. This article summarizes recent developments in computational and proteomic technologies that have allowed the comprehensive characterization of the extracellular matrix of different tumor types and microenvironmental niches.

May 9th 2018. Faculty awards: Alexandra Naba, PhD and Mark Brodie, PhD
Congratulations to our faculty members Dr. Naba and Dr. Brodie, who are the recipients of the 2018 Departmental Rising Star Award and Departmental Faculty of the Year Award, respectively. Departmental Rising Star Award recognizes a junior faculty member who has demonstrated strong potential to be a future leader in his or her chosen field. Departmental Faculty of the Year award is based on excellence in one of three areas: teaching, research, or clinical service.

May 1st. Undergraduate Research Grants: Federica Violi, Morgan Win and Kyleen Jan
Congratulations to Federica Violi, undergraduate research assistant in the Shaye Lab, and to Morgan Win and Kyleen Jan, undergraduate research assistants in the Naba lab for receiving College of Liberal Arts and Sciences Undergraduate Research Initiative (LASURI) awards for the 2018-2019 academic year. LASURI works by pairing Undergraduate Research Assistants with Faculty Mentors and providing these research teams with financial support for undergraduate research projects.

April 3rd, 2018. Student award: Anthony Arena
Anthony Arena, from Dan Shaye's lab, has received a National Science Foundation (NSF) Graduate Research Fellowship for his project "Regulation and roles of EXC-4/CLICs during tubulogenesis”. The GRF program recruits high-potential, early-career scientists and engineers and supports their graduate research training in STEM fields. Launched in 1952 the GRF program represents the nation's oldest continuous investment in the U.S. STEM workforce. This year 2,000 new awardees were selected from more than 12,000 applicants. Congratulations to Anthony for being one of those awardees!

March 21st, 2018. Student and Fellow awards: Sarah Baumgarten PhD and Eli Hobeika MD.
Congratulations to the members of Dr.Stocco’s lab: Sarah Baumgarten, recipient of the Endocrinology Trainee Award for an Outstanding Publication in 2017, and Eli Hobeika, winner of an Outstanding Abstract Award from ENDO 2018, the Endocrine Society's annual meeting.

March 1st, 2018. Student award: Joseph Goldenberg PhD
Congratulations to former Physiology and Biophysics MSTP student, Joe Goldenberg, for receiving the 2018 Michael and Kate Bárány Research Award. Joe obtained his PhD in our department working with Dr. Lewandowski.

February 19, 2018. Faculty Award: Alexandra Naba, PhD
Congratulations to Dr. Alexandra Naba on receiving the 2018 Rupert Timpl Award from the International Society for Matrix Biology. This award is presented to outstanding young investigators in recognition of important contributions to the field of matrix biology. The award will handed out to Dr. Naba at the 2018 Matrix Biology Europe meeting organized by the British Society for Matrix Biology in July 2018 in Manchester, UK.

January 31, 2018. Faculty Award: Alexandra Naba, PhD
We are excited to announce that Dr. Alexandra Naba is the recipient of the 2018 Junior Investigator Award from the American Society for Matrix Biology. . This award is presented to a newly established, independent investigator who has already made a high-impact finding (or findings) and who shows much promise for continued accomplishments. Congratulations, Alexandra!

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.

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