Bullock JO. First Principles: Physical Science Concepts As A Foundation For Advanced Studies In Physiology. Advances in physiology education.1994;11(1): S55-S66

PMID: 8017520


The importance of mathematics and physical science to physiology is amply evident in both the classic and current literature of this field. Students who have completed typical medical school preparatory programs, however, have been poorly equipped to embark on serious graduate study in physiology. Because undergraduate education in the sciences is typically structured as narrowly defined, disjointed degree programs in separate disciplines, students of biology have had only limited access to the resources of physical science departments. Attempts by physiology faculty to remedy specific deficiencies on a piecemeal basis have been found to be both time consuming and ineffective. We describe an intensive one-semester course as an alternative. Maintaining high levels of generality and concentrating on the development of physical insight were possible only when the mathematical foundation attained by the students was adequate. Although physiological applications were stressed throughout, extended examination of complex problems was limited to a few examples of particular interest. Emphasis was placed on rigor and sophistication rather than proficiency and detail.