T. Richard Nichols, ChairPhone:(404) 894-3986
The School of Applied Physiology is an academic unit within the College of Sciences. The School provides a university-wide course in personal health, and offers an undergraduate certificate in Applied Physiology, an M.S. in Prosthetics and Orthotics, and a Ph.D in Applied Physiology. The interests represented in the School include the physiological systems and mechanisms that support motor coordination and physical activity, and the restoration of motor function that is lost or impaired as a result of injury, disease or congenital deformity. Performance and motor activity depend on the integrative physiology of organ, cellular and molecular systems: integration across these traditional system boundaries is a distinguishing feature of the School of Applied Physiology.
The research mission of the School of Applied Physiology is (1) to add new knowledge of the fundamental processes that underlie motor coordination and of the manner in which these processes are influenced by disease, injury, aging, and training, (2) to investigate the role of the physiological systems that support motor activity and the factors that influence motor performance, and (3) to improve rehabilitation through the development and use of prosthetic and orthotic devices, and other therapeutic approaches involving rehabilitation technology. The teaching mission of the School is to train students for careers in research and clinical service, to help students achieve positions of leadership in the areas of systems physiology, biomechanics, and prosthetics and orthotics, and to introduce undergraduate students to these exciting disciplines.
Research in the School of Applied Physiology spans levels of biological organization from cellular mechanisms to motor behavior and human performance, and this research encompasses many of the body’s organ systems. Specific emphases include the control of motor activity by the central nervous and musculoskeletal systems, the cellular mechanisms of plasticity in muscular performance, fluid balance and exercise performance in thermally-challenged environments, and approaches to rehabilitation that include prosthetic and orthotic devices as part of the treatment plan. This research is propelled by an enthusiastic faculty and by the natural synergies that arise from our common interests in motor systems, prosthetics and orthotics, and other areas of systems physiology.
The teaching mission of the School of Applied Physiology is realized in three ways. First, the School provides instruction in integrative health & wellness and systems physiology at the undergraduate level. Second, the School offers a Masters degree in Prosthetics and Orthotics (MSPO) for the preparation of students as clinicians in these areas of rehabilitation medicine. Our program was the first entry-level professional Masters degree program in Prosthetics and Orthotics and continues as a leading program in the United States. Third, the School offers a Ph.D. degree to prepare students for careers in research in systems physiology and biomechanics. Illustrative of the close relationship between our clinical and research programs, our clinical faculty members actively pursue funded research and collaborate with other members of the School. In addition, a major funding mechanism for the support of students in the Ph.D. program is a training grant from the National Institutes of Health specifically to educate students intending to pursue research careers that involve prosthetics and orthotics. Our faculty members within the MSPO Program also provide clinical services to developing nations, including a clinic developed by Project Hope Belize and a collaboration with MedShare International to provide prostheses and orthoses to persons in other developing nations.