Caitlin Baumer-Harrison, a graduate student completing her Ph.D. training in the Physiology Department, UF College of Medicine, has been awarded an F31 Pre-doctoral Individual National Research Service Award (NRSA) from the National Institutes of Health. The two-year award from the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute will fund her dissertation research which examines how sensory information from the taste and cardiovascular systems interact to regulate sodium intake and blood pressure. She is investigating a specific population of angiotensin-sensitive neurons that transmit sensory information from cardiovascular tissues and the tongue to the brain. Overconsumption of sodium is a major health problem in the U.S. as it is linked to the development of hypertension. Hypertension impacts nearly half of the adult population and is a major risk factor for cardiovascular disease, the leading cause of death in the U.S.
“High sodium intake can lead to hypertension in some individuals and evidence has shown hypertension can alter sodium taste, resulting in increased sodium intake which may exacerbate the disease. Looking at the integration of taste and cardiovascular sensory information can help us understand the mechanism(s) behind this relationship between sodium intake and blood pressure and may help inform new therapeutic approaches to treat hypertension.”
She is mentored by Dr. Annette de Kloet, Assistant Professor in the Department of Physiology and Functional Genomics in the College of Medicine, and Dr. Eric Krause, Associate Professor in the Department of Pharmacodynamics in the College of Pharmacy.