Physiology News and Events

The Department of Department of Cellular and Integrative Physiology annually celebrates the leadership and legacy of two outstanding former faculty: William J. Moenkhaus, PhD, and Theodore J.B. Stier, PhD. IU School of Medicine celebrates the last impression of these faculty by selecting two graduate students in the Physiology Department to receive stipend awards for their excellent achievements in the past year.

William J. Moenkhaus, PhD

William Moenkhaus received his PhD from the University of Chicago 1903 in zoology. His professional association with IU began in 1901 when he joined the Department of Zoology as an assistant professor. He was given the task of starting a traditional course in physiology and then in 1904 he headed the newly established Department of Physiology, which provided much of the curriculum for the first two years of medical studies.

Moenkhaus established the graduate training program leading to the PhD in physiology at IU School of Medicine, because he was determined to train scientists as well as medical students. Moenkhaus single-handedly undertook the task of fostering a program of graduate physiological research at IU School of Medicine until 1922. He was also a one-person team for teaching medical physiology, while managing to supervise 13 masters and 2 doctoral degree recipients.

A notable student was Sid Robinson, who was inspired and to pioneer an exercise physiology course and, ultimately, became a physiology faculty member and leader in the field. Moenkhaus retired July 1941 as professor emeritus. To commemorate his passion for graduate training, he dedicated to the Department of Physiology the funding for a pre-doctoral fellowship of $24,500 based on academic performance.

Theodore J.B. Stier, PhD

Theodore Stier earned his PhD from Harvard University in 1929. Following nine years of teaching and research at Harvard, he joined the Department of Physiology at IU School of Medicine in 1941. He was highly regarded for development of a physiology laboratory course, which he effectively and efficiently taught to 500 students per semester. Stier was a highly innovative teacher who used vivid demonstrations that drove home physiological principles.

He was also highly regarded as a research scientist on the physical-chemical relationships of physiological function and temperature. This work is considered a classic and the fundamental principles have been studied over the years by others using more sophisticated experimental approaches. In addition to this integrative physiology research, Stier was noted for cellular research on anaerobic growth of yeast. It is entirely appropriate that Stier established an award of $4,000 to supplement the stipend of an outstanding graduate student based on research accomplishment.