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Animal Physiology

The Animal Physiology concentration provides a solid foundation in basic physiological mechanisms in the first year of study, and offers a wide selection of specialty interests in the second year of study. Two lecture courses, Cellular Physiology and Animal Physiology, form the foundation. Seven additional credit hours selected from a wide choice of physiology courses (of which 4 credit hours must be a laboratory) fulfill the requirements of the concentration. Most of our graduates go on to medical or veterinary schools. Many decide to spend a life in research and go on to pursue Masters and/or Ph.D. degrees.

Animal physiology is housed in the Department of Biomedical Sciences in the Cornell College of Veterinary Medicine because of the obvious connections between physiology, anatomy, pharmacology, pathology, medicine, surgery and the creation of new knowledge through biomedical research. The facilities for student laboratories are excellent.

In addition to formal course work, there are many opportunities for undergraduates to become active researchers through campus-wide programs, among them the Honors Program in Biology and Independent Studies in Physiology. It is not uncommon for undergraduates to spend one summer or more in Ithaca participating in research full-time. And it is not unusual for undergraduate physiology students to present their research at scientific meetings and to share (or lead) authorship in the professional literature.

The research interests and activity of more than 30 members of the faculty can be broadly grouped into Anatomy, Behavioral Physiology, Cell and Molecular Physiology, Cancer Biology, Stem Cell Biology, Developmental Biology, Genomics, Organ and System Physiology, Neurobiology, Pathology, and Zoology. Students may do research in virtually every field of biomedical investigation, from isolating and cloning new membrane transport proteins to searching for new hormones, to tracing the molecular cables of communication within and between cells, to determining blood flow to specific tissues during situations of rest and exercise, to tracking the development of neural connections, to learning how fish are adapted to see in differing environments, to discovering how the immune system recognizes foreign but not native proteins, and to unraveling the complexities of reproduction and the development of the fetus. Research is done at the whole animal, organ, tissue, cellular and subcellular level.

Career plans take our graduates to medical, veterinary, and other professional schools. Some graduates of the Animal Physiology concentration pursue advanced degrees in fields such as anatomy, animal science, biophysics, molecular and cell biology, neurobiology, physiology, pharmacology, and zoology. Our graduates have also found employment in museums, pharmaceutical companies, public-relations firms, publishing houses, artificial insemination services, feed companies, and in research laboratories in private, university, state, and federal institutions. The 21st century has been designated the Century of Biology in anticipation of heretofore unimaginable vistas promised by the merging of biology and technology.

Animal Physiology Requirements


a. Lecture courses:


Note: new courses are occasionally added to the Cornell catalog that may be used to satisfy Concentration requirements. Students are encouraged to discuss these possibilities with their academic advisors of the staff of the OUB.

b. Laboratory courses:


Note: new courses are occasionally added to the Cornell catalog that may be used to satisfy Concentration requirements. Students are encouraged to discuss these possibilities with their academic advisors of the staff of the OUB.

Minor in Biomedical Sciences


Offered by the Departments of Biomedical Sciences and Microbiology & Immunology in the College of Veterinary Medicine.

Educational Objectives:


The Minor in Biomedical Sciences is designed for the life sciences major considering a pre-professional curriculum (pre-medical or -veterinary) or a career in biomedical research (graduate school). The minor comprises undergraduate courses taught primarily by faculty within the College of Veterinary Medicine in Animal Physiology and Microbiology and Immunology. The courses offered will provide depth and breadth in subject areas covered in the preclinical professional medical or veterinary curriculum. An important focus will be on animal and human disease processes, with an emphasis on animal physiology and infection biology.

All undergraduates focusing on life sciences (Biology majors are not eligible for this minor) are eligible to participate in this minor.

This Minor can be completed with 12-17 credit hours of required and elective coursework. Minor Advisors will be available to provide guidance on career development of pre-professional undergraduates.

Academic Standards:


A minimum course grade of C- is required in each course within the minor. A cumulative GPA of ≥ 2.0 is required for all courses within the minor.

Biomedical Sciences Required Coursework:


One of the following two courses is required:

Elective Coursework:


Four additional courses must be taken; at least one course must be taken from each of the Core Groups.

Animal Physiology Core Group:


Microbiology and Immunology Core Group: