Current Projects

Vascular Consequences of Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy (VCDMD)

Neuromuscular diseases are a heterogeneous group of disorders that result in progressive muscle weakness and premature death.  Dystrophinopathy, including Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy (DMD) and Becker Muscular Dystrophy (BMD), is the most common neuromuscular disorder that affects children and despite significant advances in the last 30 years, there is no cure and life expectancy is still very limited.  Cardiomyopathy and the resulting heart failure are the primary cause of morbidity and mortality. The objective of this study is to investigate the peripheral vascular consequences of dystrophinopathy and associate them with clinical cardiac measures.

This study is currently enrolling typically developing (or healthy control) males as well as males diagnosed with Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy or Becker Muscular Dystrophy between the ages of 7-21 years old. This study only requires up to two visits to the STAR Health Sciences Complex and participants will be compensated for their time.

Subclinical Cardiovascular Disease in Early Mid-Life: Determining a role of chrono-behaviors (WATCH)

We are using a micro-longitudinal design to objectively examine behavioral patterns, including rest, activity, and eating behaviors, and their association with biomarkers of subclinical cardiovascular disease in early middle-aged adults (30-45 years) and young adults (18-29 years). This study is currently being conducted in collaboration with UD’s Department of Behavioral Health and Nutrition Sleep and Health Research Program. This study requires three visits to the STAR Health Sciences Complex and participants will be compensated for their time.

Arterial Stiffness and Vascular Function in Healthy Children (ASVC)

Development of atherosclerosis is a gradual process that can begin in early childhood.  We are interested in assessing the functionality of blood vessels in a healthy pediatric population in order to better understand the role that blood vessel dysfunction plays in cardiovascular disease development and progression.

This study is currently enrolling healthy children between the ages of 7-17. This study only requires two visits to the STAR Health Sciences Complex and participants will be compensated for their time.

Assessment of Vascular Function: Changes throughout the Menstrual Cycle (MCVF)

While it is understood that female sex hormones fluctuate throughout the menstrual cycle, there are remaining research gaps on the exact implications of these fluctuations on cardiovascular functioning. The aim of this study is to investigate the changes in vessel functioning during three stages of the menstrual cycle via utilization of several techniques, and furthermore, to identify any potential differences in vascular function between African American/black participants and Caucasian participants.

This study is currently enrolling healthy females between the ages of 18-35 who have regular menstrual cycles and are not using any form of hormonal contraception. This study requires four visits to the STAR Health Sciences Complex and participants will be compensated for their time.

 

Past Projects

Sleep and Cardiovascular Health in College Students

Social routines, modern-day lifestyle, work demands, and advances in technology all play a role in influencing humans to cognitively override their circadian-driven desire for sleep, contributing to a mismatch in timing between one’s biologically-determined sleep patterns and their actual sleep-wake behavior. Young adults tend to display considerable variations in their sleep behaviors due to a wide variety of obligations, including school, work, family, social, and extracurricular commitments. The aim of this study is to effectively characterize sleep behaviors in college students and to determine the role that these factors have on potential cardiovascular disease risk, as indicated by assessment of the vasculature and autonomic nervous system.

 

Vascular Function in Chronic Kidney Disease

The high prevalence of cardiovascular disease in chronic kidney disease (CKD) has been documented extensively in public health literature, with cardiovascular disease diagnosed in almost 70% of those suffering from CKD. Our aim is to utilize several methods of assessing vascular function in a CKD population to more accurately determine to what extent blood vessel dilation and subsequent blood flow is attenuated in a diseased kidney state.