UTA students earn American Heart Association fellowships
Two doctoral students in kinesiology have each recently received highly competitive American Heart Association (AHA) predoctoral fellowships to continue their cardiovascular research.
Andrew Oneglia is researching cardiac dysfunction and is a member of the Applied Physiology and Advanced Imaging Laboratory, mentoring under Michael Nelson, lab director and associate professor of kinesiology.
Damsara Nandadeva focuses on racial differences and long-term effects of COVID-19 on vascular function in healthy young adults and is a member of the Human Neural Cardiovascular Control Lab, mentoring under Paul Fadel, lab director, associate dean for research and professor of kinesiology.
“The AHA’s focus to prevent heart disease through research aligns with the aims of what our work in the lab is trying to solve and what I focus on specifically,” Oneglia said. “I am humbled and extremely grateful to receive this award, which will allow me to focus 100% on my research studies for the remainder of my graduate training.”
Oneglia’s research focuses on ectopic fat deposition in the heart and the role that sex hormones may have on this phenomenon. Ultimately, he hopes to extend our current understanding of specific mechanisms driving heart disease.
“Andrew is most deserving of this prestigious award,” Nelson said. “He is incredibly hardworking, thoughtful and a pleasure to have in the lab.”
Nandadeva received her undergraduate degree in medicine and master’s in exercise physiology from the University of Peradeniya in Sri Lanka. She came to UTA in the fall of 2018 to conduct research in the field of neural control of the cardiovascular system in health and disease with Fadel.
“Receiving this grant is a great honor,” she said. “Now that I am funded and have a dedicated research project that will be my dissertation, this really helps set me up for my long-term goal of being an independent researcher one day.”
Nandadeva’s research focuses on assessing vascular function and neural control of the vascular system in healthy young adults who have had COVID-19. The project also will examine racial differences in the effects of COVID-19 on the vascular system. These studies are important to understanding the long-term effects of COVID-19 and will provide important information on future cardiovascular disease risk in this population.
“This is a major accomplishment for Damsara and her progress as a researcher,” Fadel said. “The support from AHA will allow her to address important questions regarding the potential long-term impact of having COVID-19 on cardiovascular disease risk.”
The AHA predoctoral fellowship is open to those enrolled in a postbaccalaureate clinical health science doctoral degree program who seek research training. The fellowship’s purpose is to enhance the integrated research and clinical training of promising students who intend to pursue careers as scientists, physician-scientists, other clinician-scientists, or those aimed at improving global cardiovascular, cerebrovascular and brain health.
- Written by Sarah McBride, College of Nursing and Health Innovation