I am rounding out my second year in the Rehabilitation Science program, and it has been a fantastic experience so far. I decided to come to UF because of the strength of the research in the muscle and muscular dystrophy fields. I love being in Dr. Krista Vandenborne’s lab and also working closely with Dr. Glenn Walter, and I enjoy connecting with the muscular dystrophy community through our wonderful and often hilarious subjects and their families.
The Rehabilitation Science program is great because I get to work with students and faculty from many different disciplines including physical therapy, exercise physiology, biomedical engineering, and physics.
I am thankful for all of the opportunities the Rehabilitation Science program and my mentor have provided for networking, presenting research, and expanding my knowledge base. One of my favorite experiences so far has been participating in a week long course all about muscle diseases with all of my lab mates. I also enjoy the Rehabilitation Science seminar because it brings in rehab scientists with expertise in so many different areas.
What are you currently researching?
Dr. Vandenborne’s lab has the overarching goal of developing noninvasive measures of muscle health in Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD) using magnetic resonance imaging and magnetic resonance spectroscopy. Because DMD is a progressive muscle disease that affects the ability to walk and run, I have been determining the relationship between leg muscle magnetic resonance measures and how individuals with DMD perform functional skills such walking and stair climbing. Moving forward, I will be investigating how accessory respiratory and trunk muscles are affected in DMD using magnetic resonance techniques. It will be interesting to see how the MRI findings are related to respiratory function and overall functional ability. Finally, I am exploring how small variations in DNA between individuals with DMD might affect how quickly or slowly the disease progresses.
What awards have you received and what have you published or presented?
Genetic polymorphisms modify intramuscular fat accumulation in Duchenne muscular dystrophy. 20th International World Muscle Society Congress. Brighton, UK. Oct 2015.
Barnard AM, Willcocks RJ, Forbes SC, Rooney WD, Pham J, Hammers D, Triplett WT, Lott DJ, Senesac CR, Byrne BJ, Finanger EL, Russman BS, Wang DJ, Tennekoon GI, Finkel RS, Walter GA, Sweeney HL, Vandenborne K. Genetic polymorphisms modify intramuscular fat infiltration in Duchenne muscular dystrophy. Neuromuscular Disorders 2015; 25: S254-S255.
2015 – Runner-up award for Best Oral and Poster Presentations at the World Muscle Society conference
2015 – UF Club Sports Professional Development Scholarship recipient
2015 – UF PHHP Research Day top abstract and travel award recipient