Investigating the body's life processes from a single cell to the largest organ

Physiology examines how the body's cells, tissues and organs interact with each other and the surrounding environment to produce beneficial effects on function. Pathophysiology is a related field of study and investigates how normal processes become disrupted and promote dysfunction in patients under conditions of disease.

UWA is ranked 22nd in the world for Anatomy and Physiology (QS 2019).

Key research areas

Physiology research in the School of Human Sciences covers five broad areas:

Cardiovascular electrophysiology

The Cardiovascular Electrophysiology Laboratory specialises in research into the mechanisms leading to sudden cardiac death in the young due to genetic mutations in the heart muscle and coronary artery disease that leads to heart attack.

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Neonatal physiology

Preterm birth is a serious neonatal disorder causing death and long-term ill health for surviving infants. This multidisciplinary research program strives to understand and reduce the morbidity associated with preterm birth.

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Respiratory physiology

This research program examines the underlying mechanisms of common obstructive airway diseases reducing the quality of life and life expectancy. The tracheobronchial tree is a physiological piping system that supplies the alveoli where gas exchange occurs with the pulmonary circulation. Airway passages are susceptible to disease processes which present early, for example asthma, and later in life, such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

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Skeletal muscle physiology

Skeletal muscles are essential for all aspects of movement as well as heat generation and metabolism. Our research looks at the physiology of skeletal muscle under healthy, aged and diseased conditions. We are particularly interested in the molecular processes underlying muscle contraction, the mechanisms of contractile dysfunction associated with injury and ageing, and the evaluation of medical treatments for sarcopenia and muscular diseases, such as Duchenne muscular dystrophy.

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Thermal and comparative physiology

The Thermal and Comparative Physiology Laboratory specialises in research into the mechanisms and ecological consequences of temperature regulation and the physiological adaptation of birds and mammals, including humans, to different environments. Our research has implications for native animal conservation, production animal systems, and the ability of humans to maintain active lifestyles.

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The BioZone research group is a collaboration between researchers across the university, seeking to improve patient care and address complex challenges through biomedical research.

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