Department of Human Physiology

1. Introduction

Physiology is the study of functions of various systems and various organs of the body. In Nepali it is called SHARIR KRIYA BIGYAN. Human physiology (MANAB SHARIR KRIYA BIGYAN) is the study of how our body works in an integrated way. Physiology emerged from the ancient scientific and philosophical disciplines of the Indian Ayurveda (“science of life”) movement and from the work of philosophers such as Aristotle and his thinking on structure and function. The word “physiology” is derived from the Greek word physis, meaning “nature” and logos meaning “study”. Later, the Roman physician Galen was the first to use experiments to probe the function of the body. Physiology is a constantly evolving integrative science and current discoveries about physiological processes are providing new insights into disease processes every day.

Most aspects of human physiology are closely homologous to corresponding aspects of animal physiology, and animal experimentation has provided much of the foundation of physiological knowledge. An understanding of physiology is fundamental to modern medical practice because physiological knowledge allows diagnoses and therefore determines appropriate medicinal treatments. It is the discipline that supports modern medicine – so important that there is a Nobel Prize for it.

An understanding of modern human physiology guarantees an almost endless array of possibilities for careers in biomedicine which can be combined with virtually any other area of biological science. This discipline will provide an ideal opportunity to train in a medically oriented field of world-wide importance. A major in Human Physiology integrated with other basic medical sciences and related disciplines provide graduates with the knowledge and skills to obtain employment as medical doctor. MBBS graduates who are also interested in research careers may obtain employment in biomedical research laboratories or progress to further studies such as Masters (MD, M.Sc.) and Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) within Biomedical Research. After completion of the Masters of Science in Human Physiology, students may become medical teachers, medical scientists and clinical physiologists in hospitals and in marketing / scientific reporting for biomedical / pharmaceutical companies. Furthermore, knowledge gained in this area of study provides MBBS graduates with the knowledge and information to sit the Graduate Australian Medical Schools Admissions Test (GAMSAT), United States Medical Licensing Examination (USMLE), Professional and Linguistic Assessment Board (PLAB) etc. to seek entry into these countries as a medical practitioner or entry into postgraduate medicine.

2. Physiology program at NAIHS

Currently at NAIHS, Department of Human Physiology is involved basically in undergraduate teaching. The department has adequate skilled manpower and equipment necessary for the purpose and more.

2.1 Undergraduate students teaching

Undergraduate student teaching involves theory and practical teaching for MBBS students and other disciplines as per the Tribhuwan University (TU) curriculum. According to TU curriculum, physiology is one of the 6 main subjects of “Integrated Basic Medical Science” (IBMS) in first phase (1st and 2nd year) of school (the other 5 being anatomy, biochemistry, microbiology, pathology and pharmacology). In view of fact that the anatomy and physiology are closely related fields of study: anatomy, the study of form, and physiology, the study of function, are intrinsically tied and are studied in tandem as part of a TU curriculum for the first two years (first phase). Our approach is an integrative one, as a major part of IBMS, ranging from how whole organs work and interact to control body functions, down to the molecular mechanisms operating within cells.

Physiology is a clinically relevant subject, and is also the most logical and easily understandable subject. Understanding the core concepts of physiology makes the understanding of medicine easier. Generally, it is studied under the following topics: General physiology, blood and body fluids, muscle physiology, nervous system and special sensed, digestive physiology, renal physiology, endocrinology, reproductive physiology, cardiovascular system, and respiratory physiology.The classes are carried out through lectures using power point slides, PBL (Problem Based Learning), Small Group Discussion (SGD), self-directed learning and practical classes. The learning is also enhanced by multiple internal examinations conducted at various phases.

At the end of first phase (first and second year), students will be able to answer the fundamental questions of human body system such as:
•How does body function during normal demands of everyday life, and during stressful situations like exercise, or working in extreme environments?
•How oxygen is supplied to the body?
•How general and special sensory information are perceived and processed by the body?
•How hunger and thirst are regulated?
•How reproduction and higher intellectual functions like learning and memory is coordinated?
•How blood pressure and body temperature is maintained?
•How do body systems fain in diseases such as diabetes, hypertension, kidney failure and neurodegeneration?
•How might these conditions be alleviated and cured?

In practical classes, as per the curriculum, students learn instrumentation and various techniques of experimental physiology such as: identification and counting of human blood cells, their characteristics, blood grouping and other practical skills associated with hematology. Practical classes are also reserved for learning the clinical skills where the students learn the process of clinical examination. It includes examination of sensory and motor system, cranial nerve examination, cardiovascular system examination, examination of respiratory system and that of abdomen. During the process the students also learn the application of various devices used in clinical practice. They learn the method of recording and interpretation of electrocardiography and spirometry. A practical workbook has been developed by the department to facilitate and standardize the practical teaching.

2.2 Specialized Departmental Capabilities

The Department of Human Physiology in NAIHS has been equipped with various instruments, which are aimed not only for teaching purposes, but can very well also be used for patient care, experimental and research setups. For the purpose, the department has several sections that include hematology, clinical physiology, neuroendocrine lab, and “yoga and lifestyle” section. Smooth functioning of these sections are ensured by skilled manpower and necessary equipment. The hematology lab is supported with adequate instruments including microscopes, centrifuge, reagents etc. The clinical labs have devices like sphygmomanometers, reflex hammers, aesthesiometers, tuning forks etc. Besides these, we also have devices which are used routinely for teaching undergraduates, and additionally can also be used for patient care like electrocardiography (ECG), computer based spirometry, polygraph, treadmill etc.

3. Future Plans and Proposals
3.1 Postgraduate student teaching

The Department of Human Physiology at NAIHS has most of the infrastructures that are necessary for starting a postgraduate course. It is well equipped on itself and if provided with favorable support, can meet up with the challenge. Postgraduate course needs adequate facility for conducting research activities. Provision of such facilities can be ensured by associating with the hospital, providing various medical services which we are capable of. This not only helps the patients, but also establishes a basis on which clinical studies can be done. The program can be made more effective by increasing the scope of our capabilities, by acquiring more equipment, by opening animal house, by associating with other departments or getting associated with research labs etc.

3.2 Patient and Lab Services

As mentioned earlier, the department is already capable of providing a few of the patient care services, including electrocardiography, spirometry, treadmill testing. Acquisition of more equipment can help the department function better in terms of services provided, research activities and also for postgraduate teaching. Following instruments can be acquired for the purpose;
•Autonomic function test (AFT)
•Electroencephalography (EEG)
•Electromyography (EMG) and Nerve conduction velocity (NCV) tests
•Physical fitness test

3.3 Research activities

A medical academy is incomplete without research. Research is the basis of scientific foundation. A sound knowledge of research methodology and protocol is a must for every academician. Conducting research not only discovers what is unknown, but also makes us strive to know what is already known. To improve the research potential, the following things can be planned by the college in association with various departments;
•Animal house
•Human Research Lab Service (HRLS) with facility for;
i)High altitude studies
ii)Yoga and lifestyle studies
iii)Sports and exercise physiology
•Advanced biochemistry lab
•Neuroendocrine lab

Because of geographical conditions, Nepal can become the central hub for research activities associated with high altitude medicine and physiology. If the opportunities are well utilized, the department can become a foundation for knowledge and research in high altitude. Citing this observation, building advanced high altitude lab and hyperbaric chamber can be proposed. Also, changing the name of department to “Department of Clinical Physiology and High Altitude Studies” should be considered. A university certified course recognized by international authorities in mountain medicine can also be started with such infrastructures.

3.4 Continuing Medical Education

The department of physiology can organize departmental seminar, journal club presentation and participate in interdepartmental CME presentations on recent findings, medical problems and other related topics of interest to the medical fraternity.

4. Department Faculties

i. Professor and HOD, Dr. Tara Man Amatya, MBBS, MD,DTCD,MBA
ii. Associate Professor, Dr. Sunil Dhungel, MSc, PhD
iii. Assistant Professor, Dr. BarunMahat, MBBS, MD
iv. Assistant Professor, Maj. Dr. Bipin Shrestha, MBBS, MD
v. Assistant Professor, Mr. Prakash Limbu, MSc
vi. Assistant Professor, Maj. Dr. Shavana RL Rana, MBBS, MD
vii. Assistant Professor, Maj. Dr. YeshashreeRajaure, MBBS, MD
viii. Assistant Professor, Capt. Dr. Bikalp Thapa, MBBS, MD
ix. Lab Technician, Mrs. Sarita Yadav, BMLT, MSc (Biotech)
x. Lab Technician, Mrs. JeebikaMaharjan, BMLT, MA (Nutrition)
xi. Office Assistant, Mrs. SushmaAryal