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Touching Lives. Transforming Health Care.

Kinesiology doctoral student lands prestigious AHA fellowship

Jake Samuel, Kinesiology PhD Candidate
Jake Samuel, Kinesiology PhD Candidate

Jake Samuel, a second-year PhD student in the University of Texas at Arlington’s College of Nursing and Health Innovation’s kinesiology program, has received a competitive American Heart Association pre-doctoral fellowship.

The fellowship, which is a first for the college, provides salary and research support for two years. Samuel, a member of the PhD program’s inaugural class, will use the funds provided by the fellowship to study the role of diastolic dysfunction in patients with coronary microvascular disease, an ailment that mostly afflicts women and is often misdiagnosed. Diastolic dysfunction is the inability of the heart to relax fast enough after each beat.

The association awarded fellowships to only 20 percent of the 402 applicants. Fellows were selected based on their scholarly activity, training and research potential.

Samuel, who holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Cardiff Metropolitan University in his native Wales, has had nine articles published in scholarly journals in the last 18 months. The articles have appeared in leading scientific journals such as Clinical Cardiology, Journal of Applied Physiology and International Journal of Molecular Sciences.

Much of Samuel’s research focuses on trying to understand how the heart muscle responds to physiological stress, such as regular daily activities. He hopes to find health solutions for people with or at risk for heart failure.

The award is primarily a training fellowship and will allow Samuel to continue to bolster his skills as a researcher. In addition to paying a stipend, it also includes an allowance to pay for travel to scientific conferences and to purchase specific equipment and software needed to accomplish his research goals.

“Jake is a rising star with an insatiable appetite for science. I have been extremely impressed with his theoretical background, scientific curiosity and work ethic,” said Michael Nelson, a UTA assistant professor of kinesiology and Samuel’s mentor. “This grant is a testament to Jake’s hard work and productivity. We are very proud to have him with us at UT Arlington.”

Anne Bavier, dean of the college, called the award a resounding endorsement of the nascent PhD in kinesiology program and an affirmation of the college’s rising stature as a powerhouse in health care research.

“Jake’s hard work and accomplishments continue a recent trend in the college of taking scholarship to unprecedented heights,” she said. “It speaks volumes about the caliber of our kinesiology program and its critically important role in advancing health and the human condition.”

Samuel, who aspires to become a professor and run his own research program, said he chose UTA because of its renowned group of researchers, including Nelson, Paul Fadel, the college’s associate dean for research; and Mark Haykowsky, a professor of nursing and the college’s Moritz Chair in Geriatrics.

“My mentor at Cardiff Metropolitan University knew Dr. Nelson,” he said. “They did their PhD’s on similar topics. He put me in touch with people at other schools around the world but Mike’s growing reputation made it an easy decision to move to UT Arlington. He was young and driven and had an excellent training background in cardiovascular physiology and pathophysiology. My experience at UTA has been very fulfilling thus far. I enjoy learning from the world renowned faculty members we have in the program, many of whom I’d admired and followed well before my arrival at UTA.”