; from Ancient Greek φύσις (physis)
, meaning 'nature, origin', and -λογία (-logia)
, meaning 'study of') is the scientific study of normal mechanisms, and their interactions, which works within a living system. A sub-discipline of biology, its focus is in how organisms, organ
systems, organs, cells, and biomolecules carry out the chemical or physical functions that exist in a living system. Given the size of the field, it is divided into, among others, animal physiology (including that of humans), plant physiology, cellular physiology, microbial physiology (microbial metabolism
), bacterial physiology, and viral physiology.
Central to an understanding of physiological functioning is its integrated nature with other disciplines such as chemistry and physics, coordinated homeostatic control mechanisms, and continuous communication between cells.
The Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine is awarded to those who make significant achievements in this discipline by the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences. In medicine, a physiologic
state is one occurring from normal body function, rather than pathologically, which is centered on the abnormalities that occur in animal diseases, including humans.