Hometown: Fredericksburg, VA
Year I became a Gator: 2018
Department: Physical Therapy
Mentor: Andrew Judge, PhD
Research focus: My research focuses on cancer cachexia, a metabolic condition characterized by progressive skeletal muscle loss and weakness. Specifically, my work utilizes skeletal muscle biopsies from cancer patients in parallel with preclinical animal models to identify the underlying molecular mechanisms of this condition within both limb and respiratory musculature. Recent work has focused on pancreatic cancer cachexia and identified a particular immune system pathway as a contributor to skeletal muscle weakness and pathology.
What drives me: My ultimate goal is to improve the quality and duration of life in those afflicted by myopathies, such as cancer cachexia. Due to our translational science approach, I truly believe our work can make a difference in the clinic and am driven by this belief since there is currently no approved clinical therapy for cachexia.
What I like most about the BREATHE Training Program: I love the diversity of research that the BREATHE trainees encompass. As a muscle physiologist first and foremost, I appreciate the multidimensional approach of the BREATHE program to a function so often overlooked in the muscle community, breathing, and how this shapes my approach to my own work.
Awards & achievements since being on the T32:
- 2019 CTSI Pilot Award- Clinical and Translational Science Institute, University of Florida
- 2019 Young Investigator Research Award- Circle of Hope for Cancer Research Inc.
What I like about Gainesville: I enjoy the small-town feel of Gainesville and the ability to commute by bike almost everywhere. Gainesville has a great cycling and running culture and an outstanding trail system to support it.
Why I chose BREATHE at the University of Florida: I chose to join UF for my postdoctoral training because of its rich legacy and current expertise in muscle biology. Upon starting at UF, I also quickly appreciated the interdisciplinary collaboration between members of the Myology Institute, Center for Respiratory Research and Rehabilitation, and UF Health/Shands.
What makes the BREATHE Training Program unique? The BREATHE program pays particular attention to post-doctoral training, which can often go overlooked. The experience of Dr. Gordon Mitchell and the professional development sessions with him are invaluable to trainees in this stage of their career.
What I do for fun: I run or cycle every day and enjoy exploring the local trail systems as much as possible.