In addition to having a strong commitment to excellence in research the department is responsible for, and committed to, the teaching of the contemporary contents of the traditional disciplines of physiology, pharmacology, and therapeutics within the integrated curriculum of the College of Medicine. The department also teaches these disciplines and other basic sciences to students in other health care profession programs and to students in the interdisciplinary Ph.D. and M.S. programs that are designed to prepare students for careers in biomedical sciences. Currently, this adds up to about 600 hours of didactic teaching per year in addition to the individual training received by research students. Department faculty also play an important role in organizing the curricula and oversee about 1000 scheduled hours as directors of blocks, courses and units within courses.
For the medical student curriculum in the College of Medicine, the department faculty present more than 50% of the lectures in the Organ Systems block which is taught in the second year. This important block includes most of the key physiology and pharmacology integrated with pathology and clinical presentations. The department faculty also make important contributions to the Cellular and Molecular Biology block taught in the first year and the Immunity and Infection block taught in the second year.
Physiology and pharmacology are also essential for other health care professionals such as nurse practitioners and physician assistants, both of which have prescriptive rights in almost all states. The department directs and teaches Advanced Pharmacotherapeutics to MSN students in the College of Nursing and has been responsible for directing and teaching Fundamentals of Pharmacology in the physician assistant program in the College of Health Science and Human Services since its inception in 1996. More recently, as the latter program has flourished and moved to a more integrated curriculum, the department has taken on the responsibility of teaching Human Physiology as well. We also teach physiology to students in the physical therapy and medical physics programs. Most recently, also in the College of Health Science and Human Services, the department has begun providing basic knowledge of pharmacology to students in the Human Donation Science certificate program. This program trains individuals who wish to become human organ procurement coordinators, who need to understand how drugs can be used to maintain the viability of organs in brain dead organ donors prior to transplantation.
The department also has important teaching duties in the College of Graduate Studies. A physiology course is taught to students in the Graduate Certificate in Medical Sciences program. This program is designed to prepare students for more advanced studies in medicine. For students wishing to develop careers in research, by earning a PhD or MS degree in Biomedical Sciences, the department plays an important role in teaching key didactic courses including the core course of the curriculum - Molecular Cell Biology – and two other key courses Methods in Molecular Cell Biology and Receptors and Signal Transduction.
The department has a long history of excellence and dedication to teaching. This is exemplified by the record of Dr. Dan Koechel, now retired, who in 2006 received the "Golden Apple" award for teaching for the 31st consecutive year.