I am currently conducting research in Dr. Jaume Padilla’s laboratory in the Department of Nutrition and Exercise Physiology at the University of Missouri. Our lab seeks to understand the physiological and molecular links between physical inactivity, metabolic disease and vascular complications. We are particularly interested in investigating the vascular consequences of juvenile diabetes and how physical activity can mitigate those detrimental effects.
Thus, our lab studies the mechanisms by which insulin-stimulated blood flow is affected by obesity, sedentarism, and type 2 diabetes. As an Initiative for Maximizing Student Diversity (IMSD) – EXPRESS fellow, my current independent project is seeking to determine the role of endothelium 1 (ET-1) downregulation in the beneficial effects of exercise on endothelial function and vascular insulin sensitivity. ET-1 is a potent vasoactive peptide implicated in the development of insulin resistance, cardiovascular disease, and obesity-related comorbidities. Notably, regular exercise reduces circulating ET-1 and promotes cardio-metabolic health. It is unknown, however, whether the down-regulation of ET-1 is required to induce the cardio-metabolic sensitizing effects of exercise. My project is seeking understand the role of ET-1 and clarify how exercise may play a role in preventing the development of a chronic disease in the event that ET-1 levels are elevated. To investigate this relationship, I implemented key techniques such as genotyping, extracting RNA and conducting PCR.
I also conducted pulse wave velocity analysis in order to measure the….. Understanding the role of ET-1 in these conditions could potentially pave the way for future research in humans to provide effective therapeutic approaches for the treatment of diabetic- and obesity-associated cardiovascular diseases. The work that I have done in Dr. Padilla’s lab and in the IMSD EXPRESS program has continuously challenged me to think beyond technical skills, and to understand the scientific process – forming a hypothesis, creating an experimental design, and interpreting results. I have learned that being a scientist is more than being in a lab. Effective communication of your work through presentations and writing is also essential in the scientific community.
I learned how to present in front of large crowds, familiarized myself with scientific language, and learned the importance of networking with other scientists. In addition, I was able to present my research at the Annual Biomedical Research Conference for Minority Students and I have also been published as a co-author on two peer reviewed publications in my lab. Needless to say, these opportunities have allowed me to gain confidence in my abilities as a researcher and gave me the drive I needed to become a skilled and competitive candidate for a career in cardiovascular and physiology research.