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Current Students

Trainees Supported by the Multidisciplinary Training Program in Hypertension

Current Doctoral Trainees:

Douglas Bennion
Douglas Bennion

T32 Trainee since 1/1/2014

Mentor: Colin Sumners, PhD

Department of Physiology and Functional Genomics

Douglas M. Bennion is a 5th year MD-PhD candidate who is currently pursuing his third year of graduate studies in the laboratory of Colin Sumners, PhD, in the department of Physiology and Functional Genomics. His research project is focused on the brain renin angiotensin system as a target for stroke therapy, with a focus on discovering and validating translational treatment protocols and seeking to identify changes in the brain RAS following stroke, specifically focusing on ACE2, its expression and activity, in both rats and humans. His research involves specialization in animal surgery and molecular biology assays. In his work, he collaborates with many other stroke researchers at UF, including Dr. Sylvain Dore, PhD (stroke researcher in Dept of Anesthesiology), Eduardo Candelario-Jalil, PhD (stroke researcher in Dept of Neuroscience), and Dr. Michael Waters, MD, PhD (Neurologist, Director of UF Stroke Program). Doug has completed the curriculum of the first two years of medical school, and after entering the PhD program in 2012, he completed a series of advanced courses in addition to his dissertation research. He has authored several publications, including a recently accepted book chapter. Doug has presented his research at the 2014 Gordon Research Conference on Angiotensin in Tuscany, Italy, the American Heart Association International Stroke Conference 2013 in Honolulu and in 2014 in San Diego, three times at the AAP/ASCI/APSA joint annual meeting, at regional APSA (American Physician Scientist Association) meetings, and at several University level conferences. Doug has been fortunate to have been awarded predoctoral fellowships from the American Heart Association Greater Southeast Affiliate, the McKnight Brain Institute, an F31 NRSA from the NINDS, and the current T32 fellowship. His recent honors include being selected as a winner of the UF Medical Guild Advancement to Candidacy Award, a Recognition Award for Contribution to Curriculum Review from the UF Office of Medical Education, and the Thermo Scientific Pierce Scholarship Award. He is actively involved in mentoring undergraduate students in the lab, tutoring medical students in physical exam skills, providing community and church service, and in working in the medical student-run free clinic that serves Gainesville uninsured residents.


Stephen Chrzanowski
Stephen Chrzanowski

T32 Trainee since 8/16/2013

Mentor: Glenn A. Walter, PhD

Department of Physiology and Functional Genomics

Stephen Chrzanowski is a fifth year MD-PhD student, studying under the supervision of Dr. Glenn Walter in the Department Physiology and Functional Genomics. Stephen’s broad interests include developing a novel drug delivery system to treat the underlying muscle pathology in Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy (DMD) and optimizing the means of assessing disease progression / regression. The lack of dystrophin eliminates the mechanotransduction of forces and the subsarcolemmal localization of nNOS, resulting in functional ischemia of muscle. Work has focused on noninvasive methodologies to determine the efficacy of delivery of “dystrophin-correcting” drugs to partially restore dystrophin function and subsarcolemmal localization of nNOS. Concurrently, Stephen is developing a nanoparticle based technology in order to optimize the targeting and visualization of antisense oligonucleotide delivery in muscle using optical imaging technology. In coordination with well-established magnetic resonance measures, he anticipates that optical imaging will provide an inexpensive, accurate, precise, and non-invasive outcome measure to assess blood flow and perfusion in DMD and other perfusion related disorders.

To date, Stephen has demonstrated proficiency with both pre-clinical and clinical optical and magnetic resonance scanners. Additionally, he has learned how to perform animal surgeries, muscle extractions, and analyze data collected. He has developed collaborations with several researchers at UF, including Drs. Kasahara, Edison, and Blackband. Following proof of principle demonstration in pre-clinical models, Stephen will translate his findings into an already approved IRB approved clinical trial. Short-term goals are to finalize pre-clinical data analyses and to begin enrollment of subjects into the clinical study. Long-term goals are to become a clinician with a special focus in neuromuscular disorders, while concurrently leading a research lab in the same field.

Finally, he is in the final stages of one manuscript, preparing two others, and helping co-author three others.


Current Post-Doctoral Trainees:

Erin Bruce
Erin Bruce

T32 Trainee since 3/14/2014

Mentor: Philip Scarpace, PhD

Department of Pharmacology and Therapeutics

Erin Bruce is a post-doc trainee working in the lab of Dr. Philip Scarpace. She was interviewed and offered the position in the fall of 2013 with the original goal of beginning her postdoctoral training after graduation in December. However, she deferred her start date to 3/14/2014 to accommodate her maternity leave. Her research focuses on the treatment of obesity and the reversal of certain cardiovascular consequences of obesity. The hypothesis to be tested is that activation of the cardioprotective arm of the renin-angiotensin system, consisting of ACE2/ANG-(1-7)/Mas and AT2R, will decrease adiposity and improve diabetogenic outcomes such as glucose tolerance and insulin secretion. Outcome measures include body weight, food intake, blood pressure, blood glucose and insulin levels, and TD-NMR assessment of whole body lean and fat mass. At death, renin-angiotensin system markers such as AT1R, AT2R, Mas, ACE and ACE2 will be measured along with serum leptin, leptin synthesis, leptin signaling and endothelial dependent and independent aorta and carotid artery reactivity will be examined. On-The-Job Training includes research plans as outlined above, weekly journal club, data discussion, monthly hypertension seminar, attendance at conferences, yearly participation/presentation at T32 retreat. She has an established mentoring committee that includes four faculty members, Philip Scarpace, Christy Carter, Michael Katovich, and Nihal Tumer. Self-Development Activities: Literature research. Long term goal is to become an academic researcher in the field of cardiovascular and metabolic medicine.


 

Amanda Welch

Amanda Welch

T32 Trainee since 8/2/2013

Mentor: Charles S. Wingo, M.D.

Department of Medicine, Division of Nephrology

Amanda Welch completed her doctorate in Medical Sciences in December 2010. She joined the laboratory of Charles Wingo, M.D. (Department of Medicine, Division of Nephrology) in May 2012 and is currently studying the epigenetic regulation of the endothelin-1 gene in response to aldosterone in the kidney. Currently, Dr. Welch has developed a quantitative method to determine site-specific chromatin accessibility. She has analyzed changes in chromatin accessibility of the 5′ regulatory region, the promoter, and the first intron of the endothelin-1 gene in response to aldosterone in murine hepatocyte, cortical collecting duct, outer medullar collecting duct, and inner medullar collecting duct cell lines. Dr. Welch currently mentors three undergraduate students on research projects. These projects focus on the methylation status of the murine endothelin-1 gene in response to aldosterone and the regulation of the Scnn1a (aENaC) by the H,Ka1,2 isoforms of the H,K-ATPase in response to chronic desoxycorticosterone pivalate administration in mice. In separate projects Dr. Welch is examining the effect of progesterone on H,K-ATPase alpha subunit expression in Human Mammary Epithelial Cells (HMECs) and the chromatin accessibility of the endothelin receptor genes. She plans to implement her chromatin accessibility analysis in animal tissues.

During Dr. Welch’s time on this fellowship she has given oral presentations at the International Conference on Endothelin in Tokyo, Japan and the International Aldosterone Meeting in Chicago, IL. She received a Young Investigators award at the endothelin meeting and was a finalist in the Young Investigator Competition at the International Aldosterone Meeting. Other findings on a related project were presented at the Department of Medicine Research Celebration in September 2013. In January, Dr. Welch presented her research findings to the Division of Nephrology, Hypertension, and Renal Transplantation. Dr. Welch also participated in and presented at the Epigenetics Journal Club (GMS 6195). In addition, she fully participated in the Hypertension Center seminar series and Renal Grand Rounds of the Division of Nephrology, Hypertension, and Renal Transplantation.