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College of Nursing and Health Innovation | The University of Texas at ArlingtonCollege of Nursing and Health Innovation | The University of Texas at Arlington


Touching Lives. Transforming Health Care.

Applied Physiology and Advanced Imaging Laboratory

Michael D. Nelson, PhD

Michael D. Nelson, PhD

Lab Director
Associate Professor, Kinesiology
Adjunct Professor, Bioengineering
michael.nelson3 at

About the Lab

Science and Engineering Innovation & Research (SEIR)

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.

Interested in being a research volunteer in the APAI Lab?
Click or Tap Here to fill out our interest form.


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

Regional Function


Myocardial Perfusion

MR Angiography
Myocardial Metabolism


MR Angiography
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.

Vascular Regulation

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).

Vascular Regulation

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).

Lab Members

Miles Bartlett, PhD – Postdoctoral Fellow

Miles Bartlett, PhD

Miles was born and raised in Maine. After receiving his Master’s in Exercise Physiology from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 2012, he taught Anatomy and Physiology as an adjunct lecturer at Bay State College in Boston. Miles then earned his Doctorate in Kinesiology from the University of Massachusetts Amherst where he used 31P-MRS to study skeletal muscle bioenergetics. He joined the APAI in July 2019 and will be examining skeletal muscle blood flow and microvascular function in heart failure patients.

Jake Samuel, MSc - PhD Student

Jake Samuel, MSc

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 Rosenberry, BSc

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 Trojacek, BSc

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 Zamani, BSc

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.

Andrew Oneglia, BSc – PhD Student

Andrew Oneglia, BSc

Andrew graduated with honors from the Pennsylvania State University where he received a BSc in Kinesiology with a minor in Nutritional Sciences. Andrew joined the APAI Lab in August 2019 to pursue a PhD. He is interested in cardiac function across the disease spectrum. His ultimate career goal is to direct his own research lab at an extramurally funded university or medical center. Outside of the lab, he enjoys reading books, collecting classic vinyl, and backpacking.

Research Scientist Assistants

Manall Jaffery, MSc – Research Coordinator

Manall Jaffery, MSc

Manall was born and raised in Dallas, Texas. She earned her undergraduate degree from Southern Methodist University and her Masters in Exercise Science from Texas Christian University in 2016. After working at the Institute for Exercise and Environmental Medicine, Manall appreciates the nuances of human subject research and is excited to lend her research coordination skills to the APAI Lab. In her leisure time she enjoys weight lifting, yoga, cooking, and salsa (both the condiment and the dance).

Lab Alumni

Click or tap here for a list of APAI Lab Alumni.

Lab Publications

Pubmed: Dr. Nelson's Pubmed Bibliography

Lab Press

Mark Haykowksy, Michael Nelson and Paul Fadel are part of an $11 million NIH-funded project to study the mechanisms of exercise intolerance in heart failure patients with preserved ejection fraction, or HFpEF, a condition in which the heart pumps normally but is too stiff to fill properly. The study is a partnership between UTA and UT Southwestern Medical Center.

Dr. Nelson, Ms. Chung and Mr. Thomas in the APAI Lab 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, PhD student Jake Samuel, and the lab were featured in a Science and Medicine article in the Dallas Morning News, "This 76-year-old pincushion is happy to be poked and prodded in the name of science"

UTA researcher receives $441,000 NIH grant to develop technology for cardiovascular health

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"

Dr. Nelson Receives $308,000 Grant to Fight Coronary Disease in Women:
UTA News Center,

Lab Funding

American Heart Association
through grant number 16SDG27260115
American Heart Association Logo
National Institutes of Health NIH Logo
Harry S. Moss Heart Trust
University of Texas at Arlington
Interdepartmental Research Grant
UT Southwestern Center for Translational Medicine
under NCATS NIH UL1TR00110
Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas

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.

Current Projects

Interested in being a research volunteer in the APAI Lab?
Click or Tap Here to fill out our interest form.

Cardiac Imaging:
  • 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
Pathophysiology of Exercise Intolerance in Heart Failure with Preserved Ejection Fraction

Key Collaborators - UT Arlington

Key Collaborators - National

Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, Los Angeles
  • C. Noel Bairey Merz, MD
  • Janet Wei, MD
  • Susan Cheng, MD
University of Minnesota, Department of Medicine
  • Justin Ryder, PhD
  • Aaron Kelly, PhD
  • Patrick Bolan, PhD

Key Collaborators - Dallas-Fort Worth

Institute of Exercise and Environmental Medicine
  • Benjamin Levine, MD
  • Tom Sarma, MD
  • Craig Crandall, PhD
  • Qi Fu, MD, PhD
  • Tony Babb, PhD
UT Southwestern Medical Center, Advanced Imaging Research Center
  • Vlad Zaha, MD
  • Craig Malloy, MD
  • Binu Thomas, MD
  • Jimin Ren, PhD
UT Southwestern Medical Center
  • Jarett Berry, MD
  • Jeffery McDonald, PhD
  • Ambarish Pandey, MD
Children’s Medical Center Dallas
  • Tarique Hussain, MD, PhD
  • Gerald Greil, MD