With NIH grant, UTA team to examine cardiovascular disease

Researchers focusing on African American women to fill gaps in understanding

Friday, Jun 04, 2021 • Linsey Retcofsky : Contact

The Integrative Vascular Physiology Laboratory at The University of Texas at Arlington recently received grant funding from the National Institutes of Health to conduct research into the neural and vascular mechanisms of elevated blood pressure and cardiovascular disease risk in African American women.

Matthew Brothers

The research will explore contributing factors to hypertension and other cardiovascular diseases, said Matthew Brothers, associate professor of kinesiology and associate chair for the exercise science graduate programs in the College of Nursing and Health Innovation.

“We are specifically focusing on African American women because the lack of research on this population is alarming,” Brothers said. “We know that the African American population has the highest rates of this disease, but the majority of research out there focuses only on men. African American women have just as high rates of hypertension and equally high cardiovascular disease risk. It is important that we fill this gap in our understanding.”

The project is currently in the recruitment phase for research participants. The research team will study how antioxidants and other interventions affect blood pressure regulation and the ability of blood vessels to dilate or relax. Brothers, the principal investigator, is joined on the research team by Paul Fadel, associate dean for research, and David Keller, associate dean and chair for the Department of Kinesiology.

“Ultimately, we are trying to better the understanding of cardiovascular disease, and in this case, the risk factors that we know contribute to hypertension,” Brothers said. “If we can learn more about the scientific reasons that blood vessel health may be impaired, interventions can hopefully be developed to increase cardiovascular health.”

The research team plans to partner with other groups to explore additional risk factors, such as social determinants, environment and socioeconomic factors.

“We are not naïve enough to think the problem is only about what is going on in the blood vessels,” Brothers said. “We recognize there may be a host of factors.”

The primary focus of the Integrative Vascular Physiology Laboratory is the investigation of mechanisms of impaired autonomic and vascular function in selected at-risk/diseased populations. This research bears implications for various physiologic conditions, including thermoregulatory capacity, orthostatic tolerance and risk for cardiovascular, neurological and metabolic diseases.


Written by Sarah McBride, College of Nursing and Health Innovation