I am a highly trained cardiovascular scientist with a strong background in cardiovascular physiology, biochemistry and vascular biology of vasoactive peptides, with particular expertise in the effects of renin-angiotensin system (RAS) on the cardiovascular system. As a postdoctoral fellow at the Medical College of Georgia, I was trained in the study of RAS components signaling in rats exposed to maternal separation, a model that mimics the effects of early life stress (ELS) on the cardiovascular system. Our work revealed that maternal separation sensitizes the sympathetic nervous system (SNS) and the RAS-mediated responses in rats. My postdoctoral work was supported by an American Heart Association Fellowship early on. I was subsequently awarded a K99 from the National Heart Lung and Blood Institute focused on the influence of early life behavioral stress on renal function.
Current Research Interests:
Since joining the University of Kentucky as an Assistant Professor in September 2013, I have continued to use maternal separation superimposed with high fat diet (HFD) in rats and mice on the R00 phase from my K award. I established a laboratory highly focused on the study of the cardiovascular function, including the measurement of conscious blood pressure, assessment of acute experiments under anesthesia, assessment of the vascular responses in vivo and ex vivo, and access to the measurement of the renal nerve activity. We recently showed that attenuation of the stress response early in life abrogates the maternal separation-induced increase in adiposity and metabolic dysfunction in rats. We use a novel mouse model of neglect, a form of ELS that combines maternal separation and early weaning (MSEW). This work laid the foundation for our studies to identify potentially novel mechanisms by which MSEW stimulates the development of hypertension via adipose tissue-derived factors that impact the blood pressure control.
Also, see Animal models of Early life stress on the right.....