Sati Alexander

I am interested in the function of the kidneys during angiotensin II dependent hypertension and specifically how sex differences influence the efficacy of treatment. My current project has shown that males and females respond differently to a mineralocorticoid receptor inhibitor, spironolactone, where females appear to have a better response to treatment. I would like to investigate the sex-specific mechanisms for these sex differences.

Mentor: Dr. Mykola Mamenko

Vadym Buncha

I am interested in studying the vascular dysfunction in pathological states. My current work is focused on the question - how pulmonary vascular dysfunction contributes to pathogenicity of heart failure with preserved ejection fraction.

Mentor: Dr. Zsolt Bagi

Emily Burns

My research interest revolves around better understanding salt-sensitive hypertension through examining how sodium contributes to immune dysregulation. Current work focuses on the involvement of the CD14/TLR4 complex pro-inflammatory response and how immune cell-derived ROS production drives exacerbation of hypertension and renal damage as a result of a high salt diet.

Mentor: Dr. David Mattson

Katie Anne Fopiano

I am interested in studying microvasculature dysfunction within heart failure with preserved ejection fraction (HFpEF). My current project focuses on the glycoprotein CD44 and how different variants of this protein can potentially play a role in the coronary microvascular dysfunction and endothelial inflammation seen in HFpEF.

Mentor: Dr. Zsolt Bagi

Hannah Godley

My research interest revolves around how dietary changes impact cardiovascular health among males and females. Current work focuses on determining the impact of biological sex on blood pressure responses to a Western diet (high fat and high salt). We have confirmed that the Dahl rat is an excellent model to study the enhanced sensitivity of females to increases in dietary salt and fat, mirroring what is seen epidemiologically in women. We are focused on determining the mechanisms by which a high-fat diet predisposes females to the development of hypertension.

Mentor: Dr. Jennifer C. Sullivan

Andrew Gregory

My research passion lies in investigating the intricate connections between vascular health and the vascular contributions to aging-, diabetes-, hypertension-related cognitive dysfunction, and Alzheimer's Disease and Alzheimer's Disease-Related Dementias (AD/ADRD). Specifically, I focus on identifying novel therapeutic targets and elucidating underlying mechanisms to alleviate cerebral vascular and cognitive dysfunctions associated with AD/ADRD. By exploring these intersections, I aim to contribute to the development of effective strategies for combating the debilitating effects of these conditions on both vascular and cognitive health.


Mentor's name: Fan Fan

Adam Jones

My research examines the interplay between factors impacting renal health and performance. Presently, I'm researching the repercussions of sleep deprivation on blood pressure regulation and renal integrity. Looking ahead, I plan to integrate dietary considerations in order to explore the consequences of a high-salt diet coupled with sleep deprivation in a model predisposed to salt-sensitive hypertension. Additionally, I'm actively examining the impact of nicotine-induced nitrosative stress on renal health, and I plan to examine the enduring effects of nicotine after smoking cessation.

Mentor: Dr. Daria Ilatovskaya


Yonghong Luo

My research interests revolve around better understanding the underlying molecular mechanisms that cause impaired wound healing in diabetes mellitus. I am currently investigating the role of a transporting protein aquaporin-3 in wound healing and how its expression is regulated in an in vitro diabetes model.

Mentor: Dr. Wendy Bollag

Elisabeth Mellott

Ongoing projects seek to determine the regulation and function of the hormone leptin in the development of cardiovascular and fetal consequences of preeclampsia. Elisabeth utilizes novel rodent models as well as patient-derived tissues to determine the mechanism whereby placental leptin increases in preeclampsia. Elisabeth also seeks to investigate whether anti-hypertensive therapies inhibit leptin-induced hypertension, vascular dysfunction and fetal growth restriction in rodent models of preeclampsia.

Mentor: Dr. Jessica Faulkner

Sam Melnyk

My research interest is in wound regeneration in the cornea. My current work focuses on investigating factors that lead to the impairment of corneal epithelial wound healing observed in diabetes mellitus.

Mentor: Dr. Wendy Bollag

Desmond Moronge

Ongoing projects include investigation of the mechanisms whereby history of acute kidney injury induces hypertension and fetal growth restriction. Desmond seeks to characterize the development of renal, vascular and immune dysfunction in a novel rat model of pregnancy following renal-ischemia-reperfusion injury. In addition, Desmond utilizes the reduced uterine perfusion pressure mouse model to determine the role of endothelial mineralocorticoid receptors in preeclamptic pregnancy.

Mentor: Dr. Jessica Faulkner

Rachel Patterson

I am interested in studying factors related to brain health and their contribution to the development of neurodegeneration and cognitive decline. My current research is focused on understanding the impact cardiovascular diseases have on the neurovascular unit. In particular, I am investigating how blood pressure variations affect neuroinflammation in the brain, a major contributor of cognitive decline. We have found that chronic blood pressure fluctuations increase pro-inflammatory markers, particularly those associated with microglial cells. Given the profound impact of cardiovascular disease on vascular dysfunction, my project will focus on glio-vascular signaling mechanisms. Our goal is to understand the cellular targets implicated in pressure-evoked microvascular dysfunction on increased glial (microglia and astrocytes) reactivity in the aging brain.

Mentor: Dr. Jessica Filosa

Ryan Schibalski

My research focuses on sex differences in renal mitochondrial function. Currently, I am investigating the effect of sex hormones on mitochondrial bioenergetics, such as oxygen consumption and reactive oxygen species at varying time points throughout life. Future research projects will be uncovering the mechanism that sex hormones act upon to create the differences between male and female renal mitochondria bioenergetics.

Mentor: Dr. Daria Ilatovskaya 

Samuel Walton

I am interested in the mechanisms behind pathogenic diseases, specifically ones associated with alterations either from or to the immune system. My interests are focused on the areas that provide potential therapeutic advantages not only for one disease but other related diseases. What are the biochemical pathways involved, what proteins are being affected, all the way to which elements are interacting? Each of these provides a pivotal role in the disease phenotype, so it only seems appropriate to link them together to better understand the corresponding problem, also linking together with other diseases with similar pathogenic backgrounds. I currently am researching the effects that the immune system has on salt-sensitive hypertension and the corresponding changes to renal hemodynamics.

Mentor: Dr. Dave Mattson