Applied Physiology and Advanced Imaging Laboratory
Michael D. Nelson, PhD
Assistant Professor, Kinesiology
Adjunct Professor, Bioengineering
michael.nelson3 at uta.edu
About the Lab
The Applied Physiology and Advanced Imaging (APAI) Laboratory is focused on questions relating to human health and cardiovascular disease, specifically pertaining to: 1) cardiac physiology and ventricular function, and 2) vascular regulation and neurovascular coupling.
The APAI is located in the newly constructed, 229,000 sq ft multidisciplinary Science and Engineering Innovation and Research Building (SEIR). This modern glass and steel building is designed to advance health-science discoveries and society's understanding of today's most pressing health issues. SEIR promotes an interdisciplinary approach to research built around engineering, science, nursing, kinesiology, and public health.
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Imaging is a major unifying theme across the laboratory. For example, to assess cardiac physiology and function, we typically use magnetic resonance imaging and spectroscopy. This powerful approach provides the most comprehensive information about cardiac anatomy and structure, global and regional function, tissue properties and characterization, and metabolism – all within a single imaging session (see Cardiac Physiology and Function section, below).
Cardiac Physiology and Function
Global Morphology and Function
Myocardial Tissue Viability
The power of cardiac magnetic resonance imaging and spectroscopy.
Imaging at UT Arlington
The UT Arlington Medical Imaging and Device Innovation Center is a state-of-the-art facility which serves as a catalyst to major collaborative projects involving UT System Universities in North Texas and the nation. The center is located in the Bill and Rita Clements Advanced Medical Imaging Building at UT Southwestern, which features 18 specially-designed bays for clinical and research imaging. Within this incredible facility is a dedicated research center, called the Advanced Imaging Research Center, which houses three 3 Tesla MRI research dedicated scanners, one of the nation’s first 7-Tesla MRI devices for human research studies, a variety of chemistry labs developed for molecular imaging agents, a Hyperpolarization Core, and an analytical NMR spectroscopy laboratory. Members of the Applied Physiology and Advanced Imaging Laboratory have full access to this facility and all of its resources.
To study vascular regulation and neurovascular coupling, we employ a dual modality approach using both Doppler ultrasound and Near Infrared Spectroscopy to study bulk conduit flow and microvascular perfusion (see Vascular Regulation section, below).
Left: Doppler ultrasound of the brachial artery at rest and immediately after mild-to-moderate handgrip exercise. Note the marked rise in brachial artery blood flow after exercise. Bottom Right: We can use near infrared spectroscopy to study skeletal muscle perfusion and blood flow regulation. In this example, we are using lower body negative pressure (LBNP) to superimpose muscle sympathetic nerve activity (vasoconstriction) on resting and exercising skeletal muscle to evaluate functional sympatholysis (i.e. attenuation of sympathetic vasoconstrictor nerve activity during exercise).
Wesley Tucker PhD RD - Postdoctoral Fellow
Wesley was born and raised in South Africa. His natural golf talent earned him a prestigious scholarship to North Carolina State University, where he majored in Nutrition Science. During this time, Wesley caught the "research bug" and went on to pursue an MSc in Human Nutrition at Arizona State University (ASU, 2012), followed by a PhD in Exercise Physiology (2016). Dr. Tucker joined the APAI lab in July 2016, and is currently examining the interaction between ectopic fat deposition in the myocardium and left ventricular dysfunction.
Grants and Awards - Spring 2018: American Heart Association Postdoctoral Grant Recipient
Jake Samuel, MSc - PhD Student
Jake is originally from Wales, UK. He holds a BSc in Exercise Science and recently completed his MSc in Exercise Science, for which he was awarded "top honors" for this thesis examining cardiac mechanics during hypoxic exposure. Jakes PhD thesis focuses on the mechanism and modulation of diastolic dysfunction in women with coronary microvascular dysfunction. Outside of the lab, Jake enjoys participating in a variety of sports and socializing with friends and colleagues.
Grants and Awards - Spring 2018: American Heart Association Predoctoral Grant Recipient
Ryan Rosenberry, BSc - PhD Student
Ryan is a Southern California native. He received his BSc in Physiological Sciences in 2014 from the University of California Los Angeles. Before joining the APAI lab in September 2016, Ryan worked for two years as a clinical research associate in the Cedars-Sinai Heart Institute, under the direction of Dr. Ronald Victor. His thesis will examine skeletal muscle blood flow regulation in patients with heart failure using novel state-of-the-art technology developed in collaboration with the Department of Bioengineering at UT Arlington.
Darian Trojacek BSc - MSc Student
Darian graduated from UTA with a BSc in Kinesiology in 2018. While earning her undergraduate degree, she interned in the APAI lab, and assisted with several ongoing research projects. She is now working towards her Master’s of Science degree investigating sexual dimorphism of myocardial steatosis on cardiac dysfunction. During her free time, she enjoys exercising outdoors, comedy, underwater basket-weaving, and a good juxtaposition.
Sauyeh Zamani BSc - MSc Student
Sauyeh was born in Texas and raised in Iran. She holds a BSc in Exercise Science from UT Arlington and currently is pursuing her MSc in Exercise Science focusing on cardiac physiology and ventricular function in APAI Lab. She worked as an intern in Texas Health Physicians Group Consultants in Cardiology Diagnostic Lab and performed daily non-invasive diagnostic procedures for referred cardiac patients. In her spare time, Sauyeh enjoys writing, baking, traveling, video-making, and photography.
Research Scientist Assistants
Houda is a recent UT Arlington graduate and current Research Scientist Assistant under the direction of Dr. Nelson. She is passionate about research in various topics including Biology and Neuroscience. Outside of the lab, she enjoys drawing and painting.
Pubmed: Dr. Nelson's Pubmed Bibliography
Dr. Nelson has received a new five-year, $3.3 million grant from the National Institutes of Health to study the link between fat storage in the heart and cardiovascular disease, as well as the influence of gender on the development of cardiac dysfunction.
Dr. Nelson and other Kinesiology researchers were featured in a UTA Health Magazine story, "Stalking a Killer," highlighting the Lab's research efforts.
Dr. Nelson speaks as a content expert for the AJP-Heart and Circulatory Podcast,
"Right Ventricular Metabolic Adaptations to Exercise Training"
|American Heart Association
through grant number 16SDG27260115
|National Institutes of Health|
|Harry S. Moss Heart Trust|
|University of Texas at Arlington
Interdepartmental Research Grant
|UT Southwestern Center for Translational Medicine
under NCATS NIH UL1TR00110
In addition, members of the lab have earned grants and funding for their individual lines of research. These grants and awards are noted in the Lab Member profiles above.
- Diastolic Function in Women with Coronary Microvascular Dysfunction
- Development of a Diastolic Stress Test
- Fatty Heart Study
Vascular Function and Muscle Metabolism:
- Effect of Bariatric Surgery on Cerebral Vascular Function
- Taking the Heart out of Heart Failure
- The influence of skeletal muscle metabolism on microvascular reactive hyperemia
- Diffuse Correlation Spectroscopy to assess skeletal muscle metabolism and microvascular perfusion
- Exercise Rehabilitation to Improve Skeletal Muscle Mitochondrial Function in the Elderly