Cell Physiology

By studying the intricacies of how different types of cells function, you can unlock scientific knowledge that leads to cures for diseases. Read on to learn more about studying and pursuing a career in cell physiology.

Is Cell Physiology for Me?

Career Overview

Cell physiology is a biological science in which you study live cells, tissues and the functions of organs and organ systems to learn how the body works. As a cell physiologist, your concern is with discovering disease mechanisms to help develop cures for neurodegenerative diseases, cancer, AIDS, tuberculosis and other illnesses. The field of study is of special interest if your goal is to become a research scientist, physician or other healthcare professional.

Employment Options

With a degree in cell physiology, you may consider a career as a physiologist, physiology technician, doctor, professor, research scientist or biologist. A bachelor's or master's degree may be sufficient for some fields, like product development or inspection. However, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), a Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) is often required for advanced research positions and for teaching at the university level (www.bls.gov).

Salary and Job Outlook

Employment opportunities may be found in the pharmaceutical and biotechnology industries, healthcare and government. As reported by the BLS, job opportunities for biophysicists and biochemists are projected to increase by 19% between 2012 and 2022. In May of 2012, the BLS stated that biochemists and biophysicists earned a median annual wage of $81,480.

How Can I Work in Cell Physiology?

Undergraduate Education

A bachelor's degree in cell physiology or a related area, such as cell biology, is the minimum requirement for entry-level employment. In a Bachelor of Science program, you take laboratory and lecture courses. Topics of study typically include foundation courses in mathematics, biology, chemistry and physics, as well as anatomy and human systems physiology. In upper-division courses, you may narrow your focus to a field of interest, such as cell and neuroscience physiology.

Graduate Studies

Job opportunities are expanded with a physiology graduate degree. A master's degree program, which culminates with a thesis, may prepare you for some research positions or teaching at the undergraduate level. Topics of study may include biochemistry, membrane biophysics, data analysis and experimental design, as well as lab techniques.

A Ph.D. program in physiology prepares you for an independent research position or for teaching at the graduate level. In a Ph.D. program, you do lab rotations, choose a research concentration and write and defend a dissertation based on your original research and findings. Graduate study incorporates interdisciplinary approaches, including genetics, biochemistry and biophysics. You explore a variety of research areas, like interaction between cells and synaptic transmission. You may receive training in gene cloning and in how to use highly sophisticated microscopes. Combined M.D./Ph.D. programs are available, as well as Ph.D. programs for M.D.s.

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