Department of Physiology at Emory University Mission Statement

Physiomics as the interdisciplinary bridge between revolutionary cellular 'omic' approaches and organismal next-level approaches


Technological developments have revolutionized high throughput profiling of cellular expression patterns and their dynamics. The emergent fields of genomics, proteomics, lipidomics, and metabolomics now catalog cellular phenotypes and leverage computational approaches to relate expression dynamics to alterations and function that uniquely identify and differentiate cell types.

While the emergent field of Systems Biology attempts to tackle the overwhelming complexity of the measurable 'interactomics' in cellular expression dynamics, the field of physiology aims to synthesize an understanding of the functional contribution of various specialized cell types - themselves assembling into highly complex functional units known as organ systems. 

It is the dynamic interactions of the organ systems that ultimately orchestrate the range of emergent homeostatic controls underlining organismal function. Hence the fields of systems and integrative physiology embraces the importance of understanding organismal function - the Physiome.

Though necessarily organized into specialty disciplines, the field of medicine is largely the study of dysfunction in integration of homeostatic operations between the interactome (Cellular Physiology) and the physiome (Systems and Integrative Physiology). Importantly, observed dysfunction in the Physiome can help diagnose and identify underlying causal events in cellular interactome dysfunction. Conversely, early-stage cellular Interactome dysfunction may induce subtle but detectable diagnostic changes at the level of the physiome. 

Consequently, research linking early dysfunction in the interactome with the physiome may advance disease prediction and the emergence of enabling interventions including preventative feedback-based approaches. In this regard, computational physiomics could link with systems biology as a next-generation research discipline in
medical diagnostics.

Accordingly, the Department of Physiology's mission is to embrace the interactome while leveraging transformative developments in bioinformatics, technology and computation to revolutionize Systems and Integrative Physiology as an additional 'omic' approach - making the physiome a strategic nodal point for discovery. 

We presently have four broad interacting foci: 
1. Integrative neuroscience
2. Neuroimmunology and immune/inflammatory responses in neurodegenerative disease and acute neural injury
3. Kidney dysfunction and cardiovascular risk
4. Control of cell transport in cellular and intercellular homeostatic signaling

Dr. Shawn Hochman

Essential to scientific discoveries that cross disciplinary divides between interactome and physiome is the development of enabling technologies that catalyze innovation, including in early warning systems for disease prediction and prevention. Consequently, the Department of Physiology embraces the need for technology development as an empowering launchpad for its researchers

Shawn Hochman, PhD 
Professor 
and Interim Chair