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News and Kudos from the Department of Physiology and Biophysics


Excellence in Research Awards Program has recognized investigators who have attracted significant extramural funding and who have advanced science through their distinctive research programs. Medallion Awards are based on the total amount of qualifying extramural funding received by the investigator.

2021 Excellence in Research Awards
Faculty headshot of Yingjie Chen.Faculty headshot of Joshua Speed.Faculty headshot of Erin Taylor.
Dr. Yingjie Chen
Gold Recipient
Dr. Josh Speed
Assistant Professor
Gold Recipient
Dr. Erin Taylor
Silver Recipient

Read more about UMMC's 2021 research awards.

Robert Hester.jpg

Dr. Robert Hester, Billy S. Guyton Distinguished Professor and professor of physiology and biophysics, will be the 2022 recipient of the American Physiological Society’s Claude Bernard Distinguished Lectureship Award. Hester, a member of the UMMC faculty since 1985, is the primary architect of HumMod, a computer and mathematics-based tool for modeling human physiology. In addition to its expansive research utility, Hester uses the simulation to teach students how to apply physiologic principles and enhance their understanding of acute and chronic conditions throughout the body. Hester also developed a related education package, “Just Physiology,” based on HumMod.

2022 Claude Bernard Distinguished Lectureship Award-American Physiology Society                                               



Laura Coats, PhD, 
postdoctoral fellow

2021 Regions Outstanding Graduate Research Awards





Osvaldo Rivera-Gonzalez, PhD student 

Abstract Award, Endocrinology 2021

Endocrinology & Metabolism Section Steven B Horvath Professional Opportunity Award, American Physiological Society, Experimental Biology

F31 Predoctoral Fellowship Award, National Institutes of Health



On October 1, at the 2021 PhD Welcome and Lab Coat Ceremony, our first and second      year Physiology PhD students received their lab coats. Congratulations to all of you!

Pictured L to R: Jordan Hart (G1), Jordan Mallette (G1), Dr. Barbara Alexander-Physiology Director of Graduate Studies, Casie O'Quinn (G1), and Breland Crudup (G2)

Joshua Speed.jpgDr. Josh Speed, assistant professor 

One of those researchers is Dr. Joshua Speed, assistant professor of physiology and biophysics, who received an R01 grant from the National Institutes of Health to study the role of endothelin-1 in obesity and insulin resistance.

Endothelin-1 is a “small peptide produced in blood vessels,” Speed said. “Its production is increased in obesity, and this increase leads to insulin resistance and dyslipidemia” but researchers are not certain why.

With the new grant, his laboratory will study how changes that happen in obesity “disrupt the cellular crosstalk, especially in liver tissue, where we also see an increase in fatty acids in obesity.”

Speed is also interested in the effects on muscle, where cell-signaling molecules called adipokines help manage sugar and fat metabolism.

UMMC research breaks funding record

Barbara Alexander.jpgDr. Barbara Alexander, professor 

A driving force behind the Medical Center’s reputation in women’s health research, AlexanderShe  developed an animal model now used by researchers around the world to study pre-eclampsia, a pregnancy complication indicated by high blood pressure and signs of damage to organs, such as the liver and kidneys. pressure. hasade major contributions to the understanding of the link between birth weight and blood

Alexander is also director of basic research for the Mississippi Center for Excellence in Perinatal Research, and director of the UMMC Analytical and Assay Research Core.

Robert Hester.jpg

Dr. Robert Hester, professor
Billy S. Guyton Distinguished Professor (2015-2020), professor physiology & biophysics and orthopaedic surgery, and interim chair of data science

Dr. Hester’s research has led to a greater understanding of human physiology.

He “has made outstanding contributions to the field of microcirculatory physiology,” said Dr. Joey Granger, dean of the School of Graduate Studies in the Health Sciences, professor of physiology, and director of the Cardiovascular-Renal Research Center.           

Billy S. Guyton Distinguised Professors


Dr. Thomas G. Coleman, UMMC professor emeritus of physiology and biophysics who Dr. Richard L. Summers, UMMC associate vice chancellor for research, described as a “revolutionary thinker” in biomedical research, died Feb. 27. He was 80.

Summers said Coleman, who spent his entire career working and teaching at UMMC, was one of the first in the world to use computer models and simulations to perform physiologic systems analyses.

  In Memoriam: Dr. Thomas G. Coleman


John Clemmer


 John Clemmer, PhD, instructor

Received funding for a new NIH K99 grant


DThales Barbosar. Thales C. Barbosa, recently a postdoctoral fellow in the Human Neural Cardiovascular Control Laboratory, Department of Kinesiology, at the University of Texas at Arlington, has joined the Medical Center faculty as an instructor in physiology and biophysics.

Barbosa received his B.B.S. in scientific research in physiology and pharmacology in 2010, his M.S. in cardiovascular sciences in 2013 and his Ph.D. in cardiovascular sciences in 2016 from Fluminense Federal University, Brazil. He then had his postdoctoral fellowship from 2016-20.

New Instructor Joins Department of Physiology and Biophysics

2020 Excellence in Research Awards
Faculty headshot of Yingjie Chen, PhD.Faculty headshot of Erin Taylor.Faculty Headshot of Zhen Wang, PhD
Dr. Yingjie Chen
Silver Recipient
Dr. Erin Taylor
Bronze Recipient
Zhen Wang, PhD
Silver Recipient

Read more about UMMC's 2020 research awards.


Dr. John Hall, chair of physiology and biophysics
Dr. Michael Hall, associate professor of cardiology

The book that has attracted rave reviews for decades, drummed up crowds of autograph seekers, been translated into about two dozen languages, and remained in demand in this country and several others around the world since its first printing in 1956, is now in its 14th edition.

Father-son duo update world's most important physiology book


Barbara Alexander.jpgDr. Barbara Alexander, professor

Dr. Barbara Alexander says “It takes a village to raise a scientist,” and she certainly has found her village at the University of Mississippi Medical Center.

Alexander, a professor of physiology and biophysics, is the School of Graduate Studies in the Health Sciences’ 2019 Distinguished Alumna.

Distinguished alumna recounts mentors' roles at SGSHS Research Day

Robert Hester.jpg Dr. Robert Hester, professor

Dr. Robert Hester, professor of physiology and biophysics and interim chair of data science, has been inducted into the College of Fellows of the American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering.

Comprised of the top two percent of medical and biological engineers, the AIMBE College of Fellows honors society members who have made outstanding contributions to engineering and medicine-related research, practice or education; are pioneers in new and developing fields of technology; or who have advanced traditional areas of biological engineering.

Hester was nominated and elected by his peers for his “significant contributions in renal and cardiovascular research, professional society leadership and physiological modeling environment development.”

Physiology professor gains fellow status