Tanja Taivassalo, Ph.D.

Associate Professor

Phone: (352) 294-8748
Office: Clinical and Translational Research Building, CTRB 2214
Email: ttaivassalo@ufl.edu

Education and Training/Previous Appointments

  • 2005-16: Associate Professor (with tenure), McGill University, Montreal, Canada (Kinesiology)
  • 2001-05: Postdoctoral Fellow, Institute for Exercise & Environmental Medicine, Dallas, TX
  • 2001: Ph.D.: McGill University, Montreal, Canada (Neurological Sciences)

Research Interests

Dr. Taivassalo completed her Ph.D. at the Montreal Neurological Institute in 2001, addressing the safety and efficacy of exercise training in patients with mitochondrial DNA disorders, a genetic neuromuscular disorder with no known treatment. Postdoctoral studies at the Institute for Exercise and Environmental Medicine in Dallas, Texas with Dr. Ron Haller advanced her knowledge of cardiovascular physiology and molecular biochemistry in conditions of rare muscle metabolic diseases. She returned to McGill University in 2005 to establish a research lab focused on the investigation of neuromuscular adaptive physiology and pathophysiology, employing molecular genetic and cellular studies of muscle tissue alongside magnetic resonance spectroscopy and integrative whole-body assessment of cardiovascular and pulmonary responses to exercise. Her research contributions have led to improved detection of muscle oxidative impairment through the use of exercise testing, elucidation of pathological mechanisms and development of interventions based on muscle adaptation to exercise in mitochondrial disease and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease populations. Dr. Taivassalo held research funding as a Principal Investigator from various national and provincial agencies in Canada (CIHR, CFI, NSERC and FRSQ).

Dr. Taivassalo joined the University of Florida in 2017, and is excited to contribute to the mission of the Myology Institute by continuing to pursue her primary research interests in the evaluation and development of innovative therapeutic strategies for neuromuscular disease. Of particular interest are interventions aimed at inducing adaptive responses within skeletal muscle mitochondria such as exercise training and exposure to intermittent hypoxia. She is also affiliated with the Imaging DMD (Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy) group, the Center for Respiratory Research and Rehabilitation as well as the Institute of Aging.

Teaching (Including Courses)

  • Human Physiology in Translation (BMS 3521)
  • Neuromuscular Diseases (GMS 5905)
  • Physiology Grant Writing (GMS 5905)
  • Fundamentals of Medical Physiology (GMS 6440)
  • Medical Cardiovascular and Muscle Physiology (GMS 6474)
  • Human Physiology for Physician Assistants (PAS 5025)


PubMed Listing

  • Kapchinsky, S., Vuda, M., Miguez, K., Elfrief, D., de Souza, A. R., Baglole, C. J., Aare, S., MacMillan, N. J., Baril, J. Rozakis, P., Sonjak, V., Pion, C., Aubertin-Leheudre, M., Morais, J. A., Jagoe, R. T., Borbeau, J., Taivassalo, T., … Hepple, R. T. (2018). Smoke-induced neuromuscular junction degeneration precedes the fibre type shift and atrophy in chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. The Journal of Physiology, 596(14), 2865-2881. doi: 10.1113/JP275558. (PMID: 29663403; PMCID: PMC6046075)
  • MacMillan, N. J., Kapchinsky, S., Konokhova, Y., Gouspillou, G., de Sousa Sena, R., Jagoe, R. T., Baril, J., Carver, T. E., Andersen, R. E., Richard, R., Perrault, H., Bourbeau, J., Hepple, R. T., … Taivassalo, T. (2017). Eccentric Ergometer Training Promotes Locomotor Muscle Strength but Not Mitochondrial Adaptation in Patients with Severe Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease. Frontiers in physiology8, 114. doi:10.3389/fphys.2017.00114. (PMID: 28316572; PMCID: PMC5334343)
  • Mitchell, W. K., Taivassalo, T., Narici, M. V., & Franchi, M. V. (2017). Eccentric Exercise and the Critically Ill Patient. Frontiers in physiology8, 120. doi:10.3389/fphys.2017.00120. PMID: 28293200; PMCID: PMC5330179)
  • Power, G. A., Allen, M. D., Gilmore, K. J., Stashuk, D. W., Doherty, T. J., Hepple, R. T., Taivassalo, T., … Rice, C. L. (2016). Motor unit number and transmission stability in octogenarian world class athletes: Can age-related deficits be outrun?. Journal of applied physiology (Bethesda, Md. : 1985)121(4), 1013-1020. (PMID: 27013605; PMCID: PMC5142311)
  • Spendiff, S., Vuda, M., Gouspillou, G., Aare, S., Perez, A., Morais, J. A., Jagoe, R. T., Filion, M. E., Glicksman, R., Kapchinsky, S., MacMillan, N. J., Pion, C. H., Aubertin-Leheudre, M., Hettwer, S., Correa, J. A., Taivassalo, T., … Hepple, R. T. (2016). Denervation drives mitochondrial dysfunction in skeletal muscle of octogenarians. The Journal of physiology594(24), 7361-7379. (PMID: 27619626; PMCID: PMC5157074)
  • Konokhova, Y., Spendiff, S., Jagoe, R. T., Aare, S., Kapchinsky, S., MacMillan, N. J., Rozakis, P., Picard, M., Aubertin-Leheudre, M., Pion, C. H., Bourbeau, J., Hepple, R. T., … Taivassalo, T. (2016). Failed upregulation of TFAM protein and mitochondrial DNA in oxidatively deficient fibers of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease locomotor muscle. Skeletal muscle6, 10. doi:10.1186/s13395-016-0083-9. (PMID: 26893822; PMCID: PMC4758107)
  • Taivassalo, T., & Hussain, S. N. (2016). Contribution of the Mitochondria to Locomotor Muscle Dysfunction in Patients With COPD. Chest, 149(5), 1302-12. doi: 10.1016/j.chest.2015.11.021. (PMID: 26836890)
  • Power, G. A., Minozzo, F. C., Spendiff, S., Filion, M. E., Konokhova, Y., Purves-Smith, M. F., Pion, C., Aubertin-Leheudre, M., Morais, J. A., Herzog, W., Hepple, R. T., Taivassalo, T., … Rassier, D. E. (2016). Reduction in single muscle fiber rate of force development with aging is not attenuated in world class older masters athletes. American journal of Physiology. Cell physiology, 310(4), C318-27. doi: 10.1152/ajpcell.00289.2015. (PMID: 26632598)
  • Landry, J. S., Tremblay, G. M., Li, P. Z., Wong, C., Benedetti, A., & Taivassalo, T. (2016). Lung Function and Bronchial Hyperresponsiveness in Adults Born Prematurely. A Cohort Study. Annals of the American thoracic society, 13(1), 17-24. doi: 10.1513/AnnalsATS.201508-553OC. (PMID: 26523350)
  • Perrault, H., Richard, R., Kapchinsky, S., Baril, J., Borbeau, J., & Taivassalo, T. (2016). Addressing Assumptions for the Use of Non-invasive Cardiac Output Measurement Techniques During Exercise in COPD. COPD, 13(1), 75-81. doi: 10.3109/15412555.2015.1043985. (PMID: 26408087)