Research in physiology

Discovering new treatments to fight disease and improving lifelong health is at the heart of research. Physiologists investigate every aspect of the way that human and other bodies function, and how various parts of the body work together.

Research areas you could pursue

You can really let your passion lead the way in choosing what you study – whether it is whole organs, such as the kidney and the lungs, or body systems such as the cardiovascular and nervous systems. Reproduction, ageing, respiration, neuroscience, genetics, cell signalling, exercise and extreme environments such as space are just some of the areas where research is growing. Use the links below to find out more and get inspired by the scientists making valuable contributions to their fields.


Where do researchers work?

Research scientists work in universities, research institutions and hospitals all over the world. Researchers also work within industry at pharmaceutical companies and biotechnology firms.


Get inspired!

Gülşen Sürmeli

Jade Bearham

Sogol Salamipour

Kasope Lucy Wolffs

Yousef Alqurashi

Bradley Elliot

How do I get involved in research?

An undergraduate degree in any life science subject (including physiology, biomedicine, medicine, sports science, neuroscience, genetics etc.) will open the door to a career in physiology research.

Following your degree, you will most likely have to undertake further study, particularly if you wish to purse a research career within a university (i.e. academic research).

The graphic below shows how a career in research could advance after an undergraduate degree.



A PhD (Doctor of Philosophy) is essential for a career in academic research. This involves a substantial research project, typically 3-4 years in length, and training in scientific as well as transferable skills. These are usually fully funded by Research Councils, charities or industry. It is also possible to move between academia and industry several times in a career.

Graduates often complete a MSc (Master of Science) before undertaking a PhD in order to develop a greater understanding of a particular scientific area. This will give them a better grounding and make them more competitive for PhD positions.

Physiology Careers Booklet

Our new careers booklet, Understanding Life, is now available online and to order in print.

Aimed at undergraduates and 16-19 year-olds, this resource is an update of an earlier version and showcases some of the latest and most exciting areas of physiological research, reflecting the evolving nature of this discipline and why we study it. By continuing to develop our understanding of normal body processes, physiology can provide useful insights into how we can maintain our health on Earth and in extreme environments such as space.

The topics covered are:

  • Healthy ageing and development
  • Exercise physiology
  • Microbiome physiology
  • Pathophysiology of asthma
  • Sleep and circadian rhythms
  • Life at the limits
  • Space physiology
  • Conservation physiology

The booklet also includes profiles of early career physiologists working in an exciting variety of research areas; these case studies illustrate the career opportunities that are open to students who graduate with physiology or a related degree.

If you would like to order any hard copies of this booklet for careers events, open days or outreach activities, please email

Click to download a copy


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