Looking at these systems broadly, Dr. Joyner and his colleagues have spent decades delving into the mechanisms behind complex phenomena, such as the controls for blood pressure. Dr. Joyner's work has emphasized that blood pressure comes about through many different components, including systems that reside in the kidney, heart, and brain.
"My blood pressure may be the same as yours, but how we each got there could be very different," he says.
Similarly, by using drugs to systematically block factors associated with increased blood flow to skeletal muscles during exercise, Dr. Joyner and his colleagues have shown that many factors are responsible and each explains only a small percentage of changes in blood flow.
"Each set of experiments highlights the redundancy present in the human body," he adds.
Redundant Systems, Not a Redundant Field
"These are very integrated, multicomponent, redundant systems that defy simple genetic or one-off explanations. These complex responses and interactions are a hallmark of physiology," Dr. Joyner explains.
Increasingly, he adds, researchers are discovering that most human disease follows a similar, many-branched pathway, challenging the idea that genetics holds all the answers. Though many universities' physiology departments shrank or disappeared altogether in the last couple of decades, the need for such multi-directional thinking is inspiring a comeback.
"Two decades ago, physiology was seemingly pass. People thought there was nothing left to learn," he says. "Bu
|Contact: Donna Krupa|
Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology