David A. Essig


Office Phone: 724-847-6900

Disciplines/Field of Instruction

  • Biology

Degrees Received

  • Post Doctoral Training in Molecular Biology, 1987, University of Chicago
  • Ph.D., Cell and Molecular Biology and Exercise Physiology (dual degree), 1984, University of Michigan
  • M.S., Biology, 1979, Ball State University
  • B.S., Biology, 1977, Bowling Green State University

Courses Taught

  • BIO 101 - Human Biology (non-majors)
  • BIO 111 - Introduction to Ecology (lab)
  • BIO 112 - Introduction to Cell Biology
  • BIO 225 - Human Anatomy (lab)
  • BIO 226 - Human Physiology
  • BIO 421 - Advanced Genetics
  • BIO 422 - Neuroscience
  • BIO 495 - Exercise Physiology


Recent Papers

  • Borger, D. R. and Essig, D. A. Induction of the HSP 32 gene in hypoxic cardiomyocytes is attenuated by treatment with N-acetyl-cysteine. Am. J. Physiol. 274: H965-H973, 1998.
  • Kohut, M. L., Davis, J. M., Jackson, D. A., Colbert, L. H., Strasner, A., Essig, D. A., Pate,R. R., Ghaffar, A. and Mayer, E. P. The role of stress hormones in exercise-induced suppression of alveolar macrophage antiviral function. J. Neuroimmunology 81: 193-200, 1998.
  • Ferguson, M. L. Alderson, N. L., Trost, S. L., Essig, D. A., Burke, J. R. and Durstine, J. L. Effects of four different exercise volumes on lipids, lipoproteins, and lipoprotein lipase activity. J. Appl. Physiol. 85: 1169 – 1174, 1998.
  • Kohut, M. L., Davis, J. M., Jackson, D. A., Jani, P., Ghaffar, A., Mayer, E. P., and Essig, D. A. Exercise effects on IFN-b expression and viral replication in lung macrophages following HSV-1 infection. Am. J. Physiol. 275: L1089 - L1094, 1998.
  • Essig, D. A., Alderson, N. L., Ferguson, M L., Bartoli, W. and Durstine, J. L. Delayed effects of exercise on the plasma leptin concentration. Metabolism 49: 395 – 399, 2000.
  • Nosek, T. M., Essig, D. A., Mestril, R., Dillman., W. H. and R. C. Kolbeck. Functional properties of skeletal muscle from transgenic mice with upregulated 70 kDa heat shock protein. Physiological Genomics 9: 25 – 33, 2000.
  • Colbert, L.H., Davis, J.M., Essig, D.A., Ghaffar, A. and Mayer, E.P. Exercise and tumor development in a mouse predisposed to multiple intestinal adenomas. Med. Sci. Sports Exerc. 32: 1074-1078, 2000.
  • Colbert, L.H., Davis, J.M., Essig, D.A., Ghaffar, A. and Mayer, E.P. Tissue expression and plasma concentrations of TNF alpha, IL-1beta, and IL6 following treadmill exercise in mice. Int. J. Sports Med. 22: 261 – 267, 2001.
  • Hunter R.B., Mitchell-Fenton, H., Essig, D.A., and Kandarian, S.C. Expression of endoplasmic reticulum stress proteins during skeletal muscle disuse atrophy. Am. J. Physiol. 272: C1285-C1290, 2001.
  • Hunter R.B., Stevenson, E., Koncarevic, A., Mitchell-Fenton, H., Essig, D.A and Kandarian, S.C. Activation of an alternative NF-kappaB pathway in skeletal muscle during disuse atrophy. FASEB J. 16: 529 – 538, 2002.
  • Essig, D. A. In Memorian: John Cruzan. Geneva Review 2: 10 – 11, 2005
  • Essig, D. A., Guthrie, D. and Kilpatrick, P. Rejecting Science as Religion. Geneva Review 2: 59 – 64, 2005
  • Essig, D. A. Birth of a Discipline? Design Theory Draws on Many Fields. Geneva Review 4: 30 – 32, 2006.

Recent Research Abstracts Presented

  • Sleight, T and Essig, D. A. Computer aided measurement of quantitative phenotypes for locomotor behavior in mice. Undergraduate Research Symposium, Washington and Jefferson College, 2007.
  • Akinboyo, I. and Essig, D. A. Effects of wheel running on indices of anxiety and exploratory behavior in the A/J mouse. Undergraduate Research Symposium, Washington and Jefferson College, 2007.

Recent Presentations

  • “The Human Genome Project meets Physiology: Implications for a Christian Worldview”, Geneva College, Faculty Seminar Series, 2001
  • “Integrity and Integration in the Christian Academy” (Donald Opitz, co-speaker), Geneva College, Faculty Seminar Series, 2002
  • “The Beginning of Human Life”. Symposium Speaker, Bioethics for the Millennium. Trinity Christian College, Palos Heights, IL February, 2003.
  • Christian Faith and Science: Use of Natural Theology for a Common Dialogue”. Thinking Faith Conference, Christian College Coalition Conference at Geneva College. November, 2003
  • “Made in His Image” Alpha Chi Induction Address., Geneva College, Beaver Falls, PA, October, 2004.
  • “Developing a Christian Perspective on Biotechnology”. Jubilee Conference, Christian College Coalition Conference in Pittsburgh, PA. February, 2005

Integration Thesis

  • Human Biological Science in Reformed Biblical Anthropology. Unpublished thesis, Geneva College, 2005.

Current Projects

  • Development of a Masters Degree in Cardiovascular Sciences.
    This is a new degree jointly developed with the Inova Heart and Vascular Institute in Fairfax, VA and the Department of Biology at Geneva College. The program builds upon our B.S. degree in the allied health field of cardiovascular technology. It is anticipated that this new health care professional will extend the care and effectiveness of the laboratory cardiologist to treat a variety of heart and vascular diseases which afflict a major segment of our population. Since this degree is the first of its kind, much time is being devoted to collected feedback from students and other professionals in the field and then refining the courses and clinical experiences for our students.
  • Developing inexpensive tools to measure quantitative phenotypes in mice.
    This is a collaborative effort between myself and faculty from the engineering department at Geneva College. Students in the engineering program have developed computer assisted instrumentation to quantify complex behavioral traits in the mouse. This projects also meet the requirements for their Senior engineering project. Recent projects have included wheel running behavior and open field behavior. We are currently developing a method to perform electroencephalogram (EEG) measurements on mice prone to seizures. The complex traits measured by these devices are useful for performing genetic analysis and are being incorporated into educational instruction in my physiology and neuroscience courses.
  • Mapping chromosomal loci which affect physical activity levels in mice.
    This project has the long term goal of identifying gene alleles which contribute to differences in wheel running behavior in mice. We are currently focused on 3 strains of mice which exhibit profound differences in running behavior. Our methods involve the use of chromosomal substitution strains and a candidate gene approach. Findings from this research will shed insight on the basis for the widely different physical activity patterns found in the human population.
  • The effects of physical activity on anxiety and exploratory behavior in mice.
    Exercise has been reported to diminish anxiety in a variety of human studies. The goal of this project is to study the neurological basis of this using a mouse model of physical activity. Our studies utilize a unique strain of mice (A/J) which possesses a strong genetic predispostion to anxiety and low level exploration.

Awards & Distinctions Received

  • Best Dissertation Award, Department of Kinesiology, University of Michigan, 1984.
  • University of Illinois Scholar Award, UIC, 1989
  • Excellence in Teaching Award, University of South Carolina, 1994.
  • Excellence in Scholarship Award, Geneva College, 2002.


  • American Association for the Advancement of Science


  • Dr. Essig lives on College Hill with his wife Debbie. They attend Christ Presbyterian Church. They have five children and six grandchildren. His hobbies include woodworking, home remodeling and studying history. He and his family enjoy gathering together for an annual camping trip in the mountains of North Carolina.