About Us

Graduate education is a major commitment of the Department of Physiology and Neurobiology faculty. We offer a Graduate Program in Molecular, Cellular and Systems Physiology leading to the Ph.D. degree. Students have access to a wide range of courses and research opportunities, culminating in a major research project that is presented in a doctoral thesis and defended before a faculty committee.

The goal of the program is "to prepare graduates of the program for careers as independent scientists in biomedical research."

About Our Physiology and Neurobiology Program

Physiology is the study of how the body's major systems are organized and how they act and interact with one another to enable the individual to adapt and survive in the face of changing needs and resources.

Modern scientists seek not only to describe physiological processes, but also to understand them mechanistically at a physical, chemical or molecular biological level. Investigative strategies often include examining responses to natural or experimental challenges, including human diseases. The knowledge gained in this way both advances the understanding of normal biology and leads to medically useful interventions. The faculty of MCSP graduate program pursues this mission using techniques which include those of molecular biology and immunology, and range from gene manipulation to studies of the interactions of different tissues and organ systems in whole animals, including humans.

Whereas molecular biology provides the tools needed to document the molecular mechanisms of physiological processes in cells, tissues and organ systems, analysis of integrated physiological systems provides insights that are not accessible through the use of molecular methods alone. Several of our research groups make use of the entire spectrum of experimental strategies, from molecular genetics to analysis of integrated responses involving several organ systems. Thus students can acquire many kinds of scientific experience while working on a single problem in a laboratory. In addition, many of the faculty have joint research projects with faculty from other departments in the Medical School, Dartmouth College and the Thayer School of Engineering, thus further increasing the diversity of research available to the graduate student.

This is an exciting time to be embarking on a career in biomedical research. We encourage those who are interested in graduate studies or postdoctoral research training to contact any member of the faculty.

The Geisel School of Medicine is located on the campus of Dartmouth College and Dartmouth Hitchcock Medical Center in Hanover ~ Lebanon New Hampshire. Our location enables graduate students to undertake studies not only within the departments of the Medical School but also within nearby departments of the College and its Thayer School of Engineering. The Department of Physiology and Neurobiology office and research laboratories are located on the campus of Dartmouth Hitchcock Medical Center in Lebanon and at the Geisel School of Medicine in Hanover.

Specialized Training

Research training opportunities are available in cardiovascular, cellular, comparative, endocrine, immunological, molecular, neural, renal, and respiratory physiology. Additional training may also be undertaken in theoretical aspect of biological control systems and in computer applications to biological problems. Special arrangements can be made to do combined thesis research in physiology and another field under the guidance of a faculty member in the appropriate discipline.

Course of Study

Because the Molecular, Cellular and Systems Physiology program has joined with other life science graduate programs at Dartmouth to form the Program in Experimental and Molecular Medicine (PEMM), Physiology and Neurobiology forms the Systems Biology theme within PEMM. The course of study and requirements for the first year are common with PEMM and specialized systems physiology coursework is available for later years in the program. Courses specifically designed for the graduate curriculum include comparative physiology, cellular and molecular physiology, and advanced seminars in the various areas of physiology.

During the first year, students are introduced to research through a series of three rotations in the laboratories of individual faculty members. A qualifying examination for the Ph.D. degree consists of a thesis propositional examination, written up as a research proposal and defended before a faculty committee, to be completed early in the third year. After qualification, students devote their efforts to doctoral thesis research, culminating in the Ph.D. dissertation by the end of the fourth or fifth year of graduate study.

Research Facilities

Laboratory and instructional facilities are located in the Medical School buildings at the Dartmouth Hitchcock Medical Center in nearby Lebanon and at the Medical School buildings on the Dartmouth College campus in Hanover. Complete library facilities are provided by the Dana Biomedical and the Health Science medical libraries and by the extensive Dartmouth College library system.

All laboratories are equipped for modern biomedical research; in addition, specialized instrumentation facilities for shared use (e.g., flow cytometers, high-pressure liquid chromatographs, an amino acid analyzer, a patch clamp apparatus) are available. Computer facilities represent the state of the art in networked computation and provide access to complete key-served software via a campuswide network linking virtually all departments and disciplines within Dartmouth College and the Medical School. In addition, close ties to the clinical facilities at the Medical Center provide opportunities to study physiological problems of a clinical nature.

Financial Aid

All students who matriculate into the doctoral program receive full tuition and stipend support, which is not linked to teaching obligations. The program is supported by funds from several sources, and students are encouraged to apply for public or private fellowships.