The graduate faculty in the Division of Exercise Physiology, School of Medicine, Robert C. Byrd Health Sciences Center at West Virginia University have developed outstanding research programs that have garnered national and international funding support and recognition. This is important because our research success provides graduate students opportunities to learn new state-of-the-art techniques and be part of this growing and exciting research program. Our graduate students have gone on to prestigious postdoctoral fellowships at institutions such as: Harvard Medical School, Johns Hopkins Medical School, Cleveland Clinic, Children’s Medical Research Center, Wadsworth Center, University of Pennsylvania, University of Florida, and University of Kentucky to name a few. Other students have obtained faculty positions or gone into industry after completing their doctoral training in Exercise Physiology. 

The research themes of the graduate faculty include:

Dysfunction in the Cardiovascular System with Metabolic Diseases

Metabolic diseases including Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes and the Metabolic Syndrome (MetS), and obesity that underpins some metabolic dysfunction all impact cardiac and arterial structure and function both at rest and during exercise. Cardiovascular function and dysfunction are studied at whole body levels in humans and in animal models that mimic obesity, diabetes and animal models of stroke. Mitochondrial dysfunction, vascular remodeling, blood flow dysfunction, impacts of exercise, and metabolic dysfunction are studied in the heart and in muscle and non-muscle blood vessels in metabolic disease (Dr. Hollander, Dr. Chantler, Dr. Olfert, Dr. Hornsby).

Muscle Wasting

Cancer, aging, disuse and obesity work independently or together to cause loss of skeletal muscle mass and function. This leads to muscles that are weak, and fatigable, and this reduces mobility and increases mortality especially in elderly persons. Our data suggest that dysfunction of mitochondria and/or muscle stem cells contributes to muscle loss under these conditions. These problems are studied using genetic, cellular, molecular and bioinformatic approaches in humans rodents, and non-rodents (Dr. Alway, Dr. Bryner, Dr. Pistilli, and Dr. Mohamed).

Tissue Injury and Repair

Mesenchymal stem cell-based tissue engineering and regeneration of cartilage (Dr. Pei), and repair and regeneration of skeletal muscle under conditions of aging, cancer, disuse or obesity (Dr. Alway, Dr. Pistilli, Dr. Mohamed) are studied at cell, molecular, genetic and whole organ levels.

Biomechanics and Neural Engineering

Study of the sensorimotor mechanisms of movement control to restore balance and locomotion after central or peripheral damage using neurophysiology, biomechanics, and computational neuroscience methodology (Dr. Yakovenko, Dr. McCrory).

Research Subjects Needed