College of

Susan Barman receives William J. Beal Outstanding Faculty Award

Susan Barman has come a long way from when she first applied to graduate school in physiology at Loyola University-Chicago. She noticed her application on a desk with the words “Reject, Female Problem” written across it. Back then, not many women were accepted in the field.

“I remember my reaction,” said Barman, PhD. “I was hurt, but then I decided I’m going to prove they’re wrong.”

That she has done. Barman was the only woman accepted in Loyola’s graduate program the following year and went on to a distinguished and much-honored career as a professor in the MSU College of Human Medicine’s Department Pharmacology and Toxicology.

On Feb. 5 she’ll add one more honor when she is bestowed one of MSU’s 2019 William J. Beal Outstanding Faculty Awards. She was nominated by Jamie Alan, a Pharmacology and Toxicology colleague, and supported by many of her peers at MSU and elsewhere.

“I was, obviously, very pleasantly surprised and honored to be recognized by my colleagues,” Barman said. “It means a lot to me.”

Barman is internationally respected as an autonomic neurophysiologist, who has spent years studying and teaching about how the brain controls respiration and the cardiovascular system. Much of her research focuses on elevated sympathetic nerve activity, long suspected as a factor in hypertension, stroke, cardiac dysrhythmias, and other cardiovascular diseases.

She has written nearly 100 research papers, 50 invited reviews, and co-authored a physiology book that is popular reading for medical students worldwide.

Barman joined MSU in 1975, and her research has been continuously funded by the National Institutes of Health.

“Dr. Barman has been an outstanding contributor to teaching in the college and in our graduate programs, a tremendous leader in the physiology community nationally and internationally, and a leader in the complex research field of neural control of the cardiovascular and respiratory systems,” said Richard Neubig, MD, PhD, chair of the College of Human Medicine’s Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology.

Barman was president of the American Physiological Society from 2011-2014 and has served on countless committees and professional organizations at MSU, as well as nationally and internationally.

The Beal Award is the latest of many she has received. In April, the American Physiological Society will present her with its Carl Ludwig Distinguished Lectureship Award.

“Obviously, 2019 is a good year for me,” Barman said, adding that she looks forward to many more years of teaching and research. “I absolutely love what I’m doing,” she said.

That includes meeting with high school students to pique their interest in physiology. “I really enjoy that,” she said. “I like getting them excited about the things that excite me.”

That includes countless young women. At Loyola, Barman was one of only a few women in her graduate program. Today, 11 of the students in MSU’s Pharmacology and Toxicology PhD program are men, and 19 are women.