Faculty Spotlight: Mark Slivkoff, PhD

Dr. Mark Slivkoff serves as Vice Chair and Associate Professor of Physiology at the Idaho College of Osteopathic Medicine.

Upon completion of his undergraduate coursework at the University of California-Riverside, Dr. Slivkoff began his graduate studies in physiology in the Department of Biology at New Mexico State University. 

After receiving his doctorate in comparative animal physiology, Dr. Slivkoff continued his studies as a postdoctoral fellow within the medical school at the University of Arizona. Thereafter, he focused his academic energy on teaching and has done so for many years at various colleges and universities in the U.S. and Caribbean.

Q: What inspired you to pursue physiology?

A:Whoa, this is a good question for which I can’t give a simple one-line answer. After graduating with my BS in biology, I took a year away from school to travel before beginning a masters program in biomedical engineering at Boston University. My solo travels brought me to a number of Eastern and Southern African countries where I was deeply moved by the incredibly hospitable people as well as the unique flora and fauna. Afterwards, while studying in Boston, I came to the realization that I was more inclined to work with people rather than machines, and although I had no prior teaching experience I thought that becoming a teacher may suit me. I switched to a masters in teaching program, then transferred to New Mexico State University where my twin brother was pursuing his MBA. After taking some courses within the masters in teaching program, I realized that a PhD would be a much better degree choice if I wanted to be a college professor someday. I walked into the biology building and wound up meeting a new professor (of comparative animal physiology) who took me under his wing. I figured that the combination of animals (humans included) and engineering theory seemed like a perfect fit. (I took animal physiology as an undergrad but was a slacker in the course, pulled off a B- I think. I therefore had to prove my worth as a future physiologist!) At New Mexico State, I was a teaching assistant for the duration of the program, and fell in love with being an educator, and had an insatiable desire to learn more physiology. The rest is history.

Q: Why did you decide to work for ICOM?

A: The curriculum at my previous COM (ATSU-SOMA) is designed such that students spend only their first year on campus, and years 2-4 at a clinical site usually in another state. As one of the basic scientists, I therefore interacted with students for usually less than a year before they moved away. I had hypothesized that jumping ship to ICOM would allow me to play a much larger role in educating students, and in building a new medical school which was an exciting endeavor. The teacher-learner relationships that I have built here at ICOM, coupled to the impressive growth of our college, are proof that I made a very good choice by moving to Idaho. 

Q: What is your most favorite memory throughout your time at ICOM?

A: That’s an easy question to answer. My favorite memory is definitely receiving the “Faculty of the Year Award” from the Class of 2022. I was immensely honored.

Q: What is the best part of your job?

A: I love physiology, and to have a job which enables me to pass on my knowledge to other curious minds is sweet. That I get to work alongside some fantastic folks here at ICOM is an added bonus. And I can see Bogus Basin from my office.

Q: What advice do you have for ICOM’s student-doctors as they prepare to become physicians?

A: Your degree does not make you superior to anyone. Stay humble, and never take yourself too seriously. There’s a lot of bad out there in the world, so spread the positive vibrations as much as possible.

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