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Recent News and Awards
- April 28, 2022: Karyn Esser, Ph.D. was awarded the 2022 College of Medicine Basic Science Research Award. The award is given for research that contributes to the understanding of the fundamental underlying principles of biology and medicine. Congratulations Dr. Esser!
- February 16, 2022: Congratulations to Bryan Alava, Graduate Assistant in Dr. Karyn Esser‘s lab, on receiving the Society for Research on Biological Rhythms (SRBR) Emmett Chappell Award. As a recipient, he will receive support for his attendance at the SRBR Biennial Meeting which will be held between May 14 – 18, 2022, in Amelia Island, Florida at the Omni Amelia Island Resort.
- January 13, 2022: 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.
- January 10, 2022: Congratulations to Khanh Huynh, a member of the Medical Student Research Program in the Jones lab who has received one of the most prestigious annual awards, the Thomas McDonald Award, from the Society of Reproductive Investigation. This award acknowledges the highest ranked abstract by an In Training investigator within the field of fetal neuroscience. The award honors the legacy of Dr. McDonald, whose immense contributions to the field of obstetrics and gynecology focused upon neuroendocrinology of the developing fetus, placental function, fetal brain development, and uterine contractibility. Khanh will present her oral presentation entitled ‘Sex-Dependent Changes to TGF-β Signaling in Growth Restricted Fetal Guinea Pig Brains, with and without Placenta Nanoparticle Treatment’ at the annual meeting in Denver in March.
- November 22, 2021: Helen Jones, Ph.D., Associate Professor in the Department of Physiology and Functional Genomics, was recently spotlighted on UF Health MedMatters for her research into fetal growth restriction, common birth defects, and the role of the placenta. (Article).
- August 13, 2021: Andrew Liu, Ph.D., Associate Professor in the Department of Physiology and Functional Genomics, who is credited with discovering the gene that controls humans’ circadian rhythms, is part of a team studying Smith-Kingsmore Syndrome, or SKS, a rare genetic disorder. (Article authored by Liesl O’Dell).
- May 26, 2021: “AI technique reveals dysfunctional gut microbiome bacteria’s role in depression and high blood pressure.” (Article authored by Doug Bennett, featuring Department of Physiology and Functional Genomics faculty member Bruce Stevens, Ph.D.)
- March 15, 2021: Karyn Esser, Ph.D. was awarded a new R01 (R01AR079220) entitled “Circadian Clock and Muscle Health.” The overall objective of this grant is to pursue the fundamental understanding of the role of the muscle circadian clock in regulating a daily program of gene expression and how clock disruption leads to significant muscle weakness and diminished systemic health. The total anticipated award amount is $2,588,891. Congratulations Dr. Esser!
- March 8, 2021: On 10/28/2020, Erica Dale, Ph.D. was awarded a $50,000 MBI Career Accelerator Award to assist with preliminary data acquisition for a R01 application (link). Congratulations Dr. Dale!
- February 24, 2021: Karyn Esser, Ph.D. was awarded a new R01 (R01HL153042) entitled “Circadian clock regulation of myocardial ion channel expression and function.” The project will study the circadian clock controlled ion channel gene expression programs in both the ventricles and atria of the heart. These data will help define the molecular targets through which an abnormal circadian clock in the heart contributes to arrhythmia vulnerability. The outcomes of this study will provide the translational framework to use circadian concepts as a disease modifier for at risk patient populations. The total anticipated award amount is $2,382,051. Congratulations Dr. Esser!
- February 24, 2021: Abdel Alli, Ph.D. was awarded a new R01 (R01DK123078) entitled “The circadian clock protein BMAL and post-translational regulation of ENaC in the kidney.” The proposed studies will investigate the mechanism by which BMAL1, alpha-1 antitrypsin, and cathepsin B regulate proteolysis and activity of the renal epithelial sodium channel and association with MARCKS protein leading to alterations in sodium retention and blood pressure as a function of time. The successful completion of these studies will help us understand mechanisms associated with sodium transport and blood pressure control over a 24 hour cycle and should result in the identification of novel drug targets and therapeutics for essential hypertension. The total anticipated award amount is $1,677,500. Congratulations Dr. Alli!
- February 22, 2021: Congratulations to Drs. Abdel Alli, Erin Bruce, and Bruce Stevens for receiving a 2020 Exemplary Teacher Award through the College of Medicine for their contributions toward the college’s education mission. This award recognizes up to 10% of the College of Medicine faculty nominated by their department Chair and selected based on their teaching excellence of medical students, residents and fellows, physician assistant students, graduate students, post-doctoral fellows, and mentorship of junior faculty.
- August 24, 2020: Pulmonary hypertension (PH), is a type of high blood pressure in the lungs that leads to right heart failure and death. University of Florida Health researcher Ravindra Sharma, Ph.D., and his colleagues have found that PH is a result of dysfunctional gut, brain and lung interaction. More specifically, PH development is associated with microbial and pathological changes in the gut and inflammation in the brain, and mice were genetically modified to produce more of a particular enzyme ACE2 (angiotensin-converting enzyme 2) were protected from PH and associated pathologies. This preclinical study advances our understanding of ACE2 and its beneficial effects are due to attenuation of neuroinflammation, improved gut wall pathology, and rebalanced gut microbiota. The findings were published recently in the high impact journal Hypertension. You can read more about the discovery here:
- June 10, 2020: The Journal of Physiology has issued a press release titled “60 Minutes of Endurance Training is Enough to Shift Body Clock in Mice” which you can read more about here: Journal of Physiology Press Release 06-10-2020
- The UF Newsroom published a report on the recently published Nature Molecular Psychiatry study of Dr. Bruce Stevens. You can read more about it by clicking the following link: Depression can be identified using gut bacteria, University of Florida Health researchers find.
- The following Physiology faculty are recognized by the College of Medicine as 2019 Exemplary Teachers:
Erin Bruce, Ph.D.
Hideko Kasahara, M.D., Ph.D.
Peter Sayeski, Ph.D.
Bruce Stevens, Ph.D.
- The UF Newsroom recently published an exciting article regarding research conducted by Dr. Bruce Stevens. You can read more about it by clicking the following link: Gut microbiome may be linked to high blood pressure and depression, UF Health researchers find.
- In 2019, Assistant Professor Dr. Annette de Kloet has won the Excellence Award – Assistant Professor from the UF College of Medicine. This is an honor that recognizes Annette as one of COM’s brightest young stars.
- Dr. Tao Yang received the Trainee Research Recognition award from the Physiological-omics group, American Physiological Society at the 2019 Experimental Biology meeting. The research is titled “Impaired T Cell Receptor Signaling in the Intestinal Epithelium of Spontaneously Hypertensive Rats.”
- On January 29, 2019, Dr. Tao Yang received the $50,000 Biocodex Microbiota Foundation grant award to investigate how intestinal microbes may cause dysfunctional gut-brain connections. You can read the more about Dr. Yang’s awards by clicking the following links: PR Newswire Article; UF Health Article
- Dr. Kirk Conrad was recently interviewed by the American Heart Association for their article titled, “Why Do IVF Pregnancies With Frozen Embryos Raise Preeclamsia Risk?” You can read the article by clicking the following link: Conrad Article.
- Assistant Professor Dr. Annette de Kloet was recently awarded NIH funding for a 5-year R01 titled “Interrogating distinct angiotensin type-1 and type-2 receptor containing brain circuits to understand and alleviate hypertension.” Congratulations Dr. de Kloet!
- The following Physiology faculty are recognized by the College of Medicine as 2018 Exemplary Teachers:
Abdel Alli, Ph.D., MPH
Hideko Kasahara, M.D., Ph.D.
Peter Sayeski, Ph.D.
Bruce Stevens, Ph.D.
- Dr. Kirk Conrad has received a 2018-19 University Term Professorship award from the University of Florida in recognition of academic accomplishment.
- Dr. Ravindra Sharma is a post-doctoral research associate in Prof. Mohan Raizada’s lab. Recently, Dr. Sharma has received New Investigator Award from the American Heart Association (AHA) in Council on Hypertension Meeting 2018 at Chicago, IL. He was also invited to give a talk on his work entitled “protective role of angiotensin converting enzyme-2 (ACE2) in pulmonary hypertension”. This award presented to up to 10 qualified new investigators selected to present abstract at Council on Hypertension Meeting. The Council on Hypertension of AHA also supported Dr. Sharma by providing travel assistance for attending this annual conference. More recently, Dr. Sharma’s abstract received “Best of AHA Specialty Conferences Invitation at Scientific Sessions 2018” taking place in November 10-12, Chicago, IL. This abstract is selected to present at one of the American Heart Association’s Specialty Conferences in 2018 is among the top 10 percent of the accepted abstracts presented at the conference. Dr. Sharma’s research focus is to explore the neurogenic components involved in the pathophysiology of pulmonary hypertension, he has recently discovered that microglial activation, neuro-inflammation in the cardio-regulatory brain regions participate in autonomic dysfunctions and eventually contribute to pulmonary hypertension and associated right heart pathologies. The overall aim of these studies to provide significant therapeutic approach for the treatment of pulmonary hypertension.
- Dr. Aline C. Oliveira, a postdoctoral associate in Dr. Mohan Raizada’s lab, recently received a number of awards. Recently, Dr. Oliveira was invited by the American Physiology Society (APS) to give an oral presentation at their annual Experimental Biology meeting in 2018 describing the significant correlation between the number of microglial cells in autonomic brain regions and severity of PH. The title of her presentation was “Protection against hypoxia-induced pulmonary hypertension in CX3CR1-deficient mice correlates with decreased microglia activation”. A preliminary report of this observation was also published in the American Journal of Respiratory Cell and Molecular Biology in 2018. To further her training, Dr Oliveira was awarded a Training Enhancement Opportunity (TEO) Grant from the McKnight Brain Institute at the University of Florida. The TEO allowed her to travel to Scotland to expand her knowledge of high resolution confocal microscopy at the Heriot-Watt University and IGMM at Edinburgh University-UK. More recently, Dr. Oliveira received a Poster Award from the New Investigator Committee of the International Society of Hypertension at the American Heart Association, Council on Hypertension Meeting, 2018 in Chicago IL. The title of her poster was “Altered Brain-Gut-Lung Axis In Hypoxia-Induced Pulmonary Hypertension”.
- Dr. Tao Yang is the recipient of the 2018 McKnight Brain Institute Research Fellowship Award for postdoctoral fellow. Dr. Yang has trained as a post doc in Dr. Mohan Raizada’s laboratory since completing his graduate studies Spring 2017.
- Lance Riley, PhD student in Dr. Karyn Esser’s lab, has received the Young Investigator Award for his presentation entitled, “The muscle clock regulates titin splicing and sarcomere length,” at the 47th European Muscle Conference in Budapest, Hungary August 30-September 3, 2018. This prize was awarded to the best oral presentation given by a young investigator at the conference.