Anatomy, Biochemistry & Physiology

Introduction | Faculty & Staff | Courses

The Department of Anatomy, Biochemistry, Physiology and Reproductive Biology supports the interdisciplinary nature of modern biomedical research and exposes both medical and graduate students to the type of research environment they will encounter in their professional career. The department was formed in acknowledgement of the MD program’s ongoing need for discipline-based expertise in the areas of anatomy, physiology, and reproductive biology, which provides a broad base of knowledge in biological structure and function from the molecular level to the body as a whole, as well as biochemistry, which involves the study of the chemistry and physics of living systems and is fundamental to the understanding of many of the disciplines of medical, biological, and agricultural sciences.

The department offers upper- and lower-level courses in biochemistry and physiology as preparatory coursework for prospective medical students, as well as 500-level electives in human anatomy and physiology for medical students that supplement knowledge gained in the tutorials. The training of medical students and post-graduate training of physicians would not be possible without the department’s Willed Body Program. For further information, please visit our Willed Body Program webpage.

Students seeking health-related careers in areas such as dentistry, medicine, nursing, nutrition, physical therapy, public health, and the social sciences need many of the department’s physiology courses. Formal programs of study leading to MS and PhD degrees in biomedical sciences (physiology) are also offered. These students may elect to
conduct research at the molecular or cellular level, on organs such as the lungs, or on the whole animal or person. Through the interdisciplinary Cell and Molecular Biology Graduate Program, qualified graduate students have the opportunity to work with faculty from other JABSOM departments and programs within the University system as well.

The department offers MS and PhD degrees in biomedical sciences (physiology). The MS (Plan A) program in physiology requires a combination of course work and original research, the latter forming the basis of the student's thesis. The MS (plan B) degree serves as training for teaching positions at the high school, community college, or four-year college level. It may also prelude to a medical or dental education. Candidates for the MS Plan B degree are required to prepare a written paper and give an oral presentation as well as fulfilling course requirements (total of 30 credits). The MS concentration in exercise physiology provides adequate preparation for a career in sports medicine and training and in health and fitness programs in hospitals and private businesses.

The PhD degree in biomedical sciences (physiology) prepares students for teaching careers in universities, community colleges, and high schools, as well as for research careers at universities, hospitals, government laboratories, and large pharmaceutical companies. Candidates must take a written qualifying examination, an oral comprehensive examination, and submit an acceptable outline of their proposed dissertation research. They must also submit and defend their dissertation. PhD graduates usually obtain postdoctoral positions elsewhere as further preparation for a career in teaching and research at the university level.

Applicants must submit three letters of recommendation together with either GRE or MCAT scores. All applicants are expected to have adequate backgrounds in biology, chemistry, mathematics, molecular biology, and physics. The course requirements for admitted students vary with their degree and specialization, but all candidates for the MS and PhD degrees must take a written qualifying examination.

The department’s anatomy and reproductive biology faculty are world renowned for their research in the areas of fertilization, reproductive endocrinology, and neurobiology of sexual behavior. Department faculty established the Institute for Biogenesis Research and pioneered the successful "Honolulu Technique" cloning technology which provided scientists with a new and valuable tool for researching the molecular processes involved in embryo formation, cell differentiation, aging, and disease. The biochemistry faculty offer laboratory and research experience either through formal courses or through participation in funded research programs in areas such as clinical biochemistry, bioenergetics, biochemistry of reproduction, and chemical carcinogenesis.

Department faculty also have appointments in the Pacific Biosciences Research Center and the Cancer Research Center of Hawai‘i.

Phone: (808) 692-1446
John A. Burns School of Medicine
651 Ilalo Street
Honolulu HI 96813
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John A. Burns School of Medicine • University of Hawai`i at Manoa
651 Ilalo Street • Honolulu, Hawai`i 96813
© 2008