Quantitative Human Physiology

1st Edition

An Introduction

Authors: Joseph Feher
Hardcover ISBN: 9780123821638
eBook ISBN: 9780123821645
Imprint: Academic Press
Published Date: 27th February 2012
Page Count: 960
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Quantitative Human Physiology: An Introduction presents a course in quantitative physiology developed for undergraduate students of Biomedical Engineering at Virginia Commonwealth University. The text covers all the elements of physiology in nine units: (1) physical and chemical foundations; (2) cell physiology; (3) excitable tissue physiology; (4) neurophysiology; (5) cardiovascular physiology; (6) respiratory physiology; (7) renal physiology; (8) gastrointestinal physiology; and (9) endocrinology. The text makes extensive use of mathematics at the level of calculus and elementary differential equations. Examples and problem sets are provided to facilitate quantitative and analytic understanding, while the clinical applications scattered throughout the text illustrate the rationale behind the topics discussed. This text is written for students with no knowledge of physiology but with a solid background in calculus with elementary differential equations. The text is also useful for instructors with less time; each chapter is intended to be a single lecture and can be read in a single sitting.

Key Features

  • A quantitative approach that includes physical and chemical principles
  • An integrated approach from first principles, integrating anatomy, molecular biology, biochemistry and physiology. Illustration program reinforces the integrated nature of physiological systems
  • Pedagogically rich, including chapter objectives, chapter summaries, large number of illustrations, and short chapters suitable for single lectures
  • Clinical applications relevant to the biomedical engineering student (TENS, cochlear implants, blood substitutes, etc.)
  • Problem sets provide opportunity for practice and assessment throughout the course.


undergraduate bioengineering students

Table of Contents



UNIT 1. Physical and Chemical Foundations of Physiology

1.1. The Core Principles of Physiology

Human Physiology Is the Integrated Study of the Normal Function of the Human Body

Cells Are the Organizational Unit of Life

The Concept of Homeostasis Is a Central Theme of Physiology

The Body Consists of Causal Mechanisms That Obey the Laws of Physics and Chemistry

Evolution Is an Efficient Cause of the Human Body Working Over Long Time Scales

Living Beings Transform Energy and Matter

Function Follows Form

Coordinated Command and Control Requires Signaling at All Levels of Organization

Physiology Is a Quantitative Science


Review Questions

1.2. Physical Foundations of Physiology I

Forces Produce Flows

Conservation of Matter or Energy Leads to the Continuity Equation

Steady-State Flows Require Linear Gradients

Heat, Charge, Solute, and Volume Can Be Stored: Analogues of Capacitance

Pressure Drives Fluid Flow

Poiseuille’s Law Governs Steady-State Laminar Flow in Narrow Tubes

The Law of LaPlace Relates Pressure to Tension in Hollow Organs


Review Questions

Appendix 1.2.A1 Derivation of Poiseuille’s Law

1.3. Physical Foundations of Physiology II

Coulomb’s Law Describes Electrical Forces

The Electric Potential Is the Work per Unit Charge

The Idea of Potential Is Limited to Conservative Forces

Potential Difference Depends Only on the Initial and Final States

The Electric Field Is the Negative Gradient of the Potential

Force and Energy Are Simple Consequences of Potential

Gauss’s Law Is a Consequence of Coulomb’s Law

The Capacitance of a Parallel Plate Capacitor Depends on its Area and Plate Separation

Biological Membranes Are Electrical Capacitors

Electric Cha


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About the Author

Joseph Feher

Dr. Feher is professor of Physiology and Biophysics at Virginia Commonwealth University. He received his Ph.D. from Cornell University, and has research interests in the quantitative understanding of the mechanisms of calcium uptake and release by the cardiac sarcoplasmic reticulum, in the mechanisms of calcium transport across the intestine, and in muscle contraction and relaxation. Dr. Feher developed a course in Introductory Quantitative Physiology at VCU and has been course coordinator for more than a decade. He also teaches muscle and cell physiology to medical and graduate students and is course coordinator for the Graduate Physiology survey course in physiology given at VCU’s School of Medicine.

Affiliations and Expertise

Department of Physiology and Biophysics, Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond, VA, USA


".. in terms of what is out there this book provides the best mix I have seen thus far of balancing the two aspects of "quantitative" "physiology" - Professor Sean Collins at University of Massachusetts - Lowell


"It would be quite useful for engineers who want to ply their trade in the physiological sciences.....  I have been looking for this kind of book for a long time. I am going to show it also to more of my mathematical colleagues. I am still evaluating it and reading it myself-but I love the approach. The author needs to be congratulated for a masterpiece of a work." - Professor Lawrence Basso, MD, Stanford University


"This book is long-overdue for combined teaching of a course that moves from cellular to systems physiology that truly integrates the quantitation with the physiology. It is an extremely easily read book that covers all aspects of physiology, from the mathematical concepts that underlie how human physiology functions to medically-related diseases and conditions, as well as current medical treatments. I plan to utilize this book for upper level undergraduate biomedical engineering students in sensory and quantitative physiology, as well as for advanced graduate students in a pharmacological and physiological PhD program in medical school, with appropriate emphasis from the book for each student group according to their needs and abilities." - Amy B. Harkins, Associate Professor, Saint Louis University


“Complements to Dr. Feher—the book is excellent and the students are benefiting.” - Dr. David Reinkensmeyer, University of California, Irvine