A program that focuses on the scientific study of dynamic interactive processes and biochemical communications at the subcellular level. Includes instruction in ion channels and transporters, molecular signaling pathways, endocrine control and regulation, genetic information transfer, homeostasis and molecular control systems, electrophysiology and sensory mechanisms, protein synthesis, and applicable research methods and technologies.

Careers in molecular physiology focus on physical processes at the molecular and subcellular level.

At every moment, molecular structures throughout any biological organism are engaged in complex communication. Using a variety of mechanisms, they transmit information, initiate movement, and coordinate activity. Within molecular structures, transport proteins, chemical bonds, ions, and electrons are in a constant state of flux that can be co-opted or interrupted by invading disease. Molecular physiologists work to understand these complicated processes and pinpoint the ways that they can be applied to combat disease and advance science.

Any situation where molecules are doing something is one a molecular physiologist will be eager to investigate. Their work appears across the life sciences, with a big presence in sensory, neurological, and metabolic studies. Molecular work requires mastery of lab equipment and visualization techniques, and new approaches to the work involving advanced technologies are constantly emerging.

Work in molecular physiology may include...

  • Observing molecular, chemical, and ionic activity using special techniques
  • Studying the relationship between molecular activity and organ or system function
  • Developing new applications for molecular technologies
  • Collecting, analyzing, and presenting data
  • Assessing health based on molecular function

Most molecular physiologists work in labs, since it's difficult to visualize molecular activity without the aid of special equipment. Their roles include research scientists, lab technicians, assistants, and supervisors. Some molecular physiologists are employed by universities, where they teach, lecture, or publish work. Biotechnology and pharmaceutical development companies, as well as government labs, will occasionally hire molecular physiologists to assist in the creation of new treatments.

Training to become a molecular physiologist involves a lot of lab time, and most get their start in Bachelor's degree programs in molecular biology. It can be helpful to complete coursework in biochemistry, physiology, systems biology, and medical ethics, and students with a comprehensive background can find jobs in the field upon graduating. However, many aspiring molecular physiologists find that graduate school offers the chance to focus their studies and enter Master's or Doctoral programs. Some who want to apply their knowledge in a clinical context pursue medical school, sometimes even in a joint PhD program. There is no one path to molecular physiology, and each individual may find that something different works for them.

Molecular activity is at the very core of life, and understanding it can lead to amazing discoveries. If you'd like to make some of your own, maybe molecular physiology is the field to explore.

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