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Physiology as a discipline is uniquely positioned to engage undergraduate students in interdisciplinary research in response to the 2006Â2011 National Science Foundation Strategic Plan call for innovative transformational research, which emphasizes multidisciplinary projects. To prepare undergraduates for careers that cross disciplinary boundaries, students need to practice interdisciplinary communication in academic programs that connect students in diverse disciplines. This report surveys policy documents relevant to this emphasis on interdisciplinary training and suggests a changing role for physiology courses in bioscience and engineering programs. A role for a physiology course is increasingly recommended for engineering programs, but the study of physiology from an engineering perspective might differ from the study of physiology as a basic science. Indeed, physiology laboratory courses provide an arena where biomedical engineering and bioscience students can apply knowledge from both fields while cooperating in multidisciplinary teams under specified technical constraints. Because different problem-solving approaches are used by students of engineering and bioscience, instructional innovations are needed to break down stereotypes between the disciplines and create an educational environment where interdisciplinary teamwork is used to bridge differences.
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