A Prescription for Health and Fitness Based on Your Genes

University of Connecticut
Manchester, Connecticut
MedicineData Science
DOI: 10.18258/2451
$6,500
Raised
650%
Funded on 8/24/14
Successfully Funded
  • $6,500
    pledged
  • 650%
    funded
  • Funded
    on 8/24/14

About This Project

Exercise has many health benefits. Yet, most people stop their exercise programs after they start them. What if your genes were holding you back? We are exploring ways to match the right forms of exercise to our body’s genetic makeup to keep more people exercising regularly. Thanks to your contributions we have raised $6,000. WOW!!! Due to our success, we are increasing our goal to $7,000 and extending our campaign once again !!!! Thank you!

Ask the Scientists

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What is the context of this research?

We are attempting to identify key genes that influence the way blood pressure responds, to exercise among adults with hypertension. This field of study is called exercise genomics. When we started this research in 2001, we thought we would find the key genes that explained why for most people exercise lowers blood pressure, while for other people it does not. However, there appear to be many genes that associate with how blood pressure responds to exercise, and those that have the most important effects have yet to be identified. Recent advances in biotechnology have can now reveal some of the genes that will enable us to create personalized exercise prescriptions to maximize the blood pressure lowering effects of exercise for people with hypertension.

What is the significance of this project?

Hypertension is the most common, costly, and preventable cardiovascular disease risk factor. Over 60% of adults in the United States have high blood pressure. If we live into old age, nearly all Americans will develop hypertension. Regular exercise is recommended to prevent, treat, and control hypertension. Yet, most people do not participate in the amount of exercise needed to lower blood pressure. Our goal is to identify key genes that will enable us to create personalized exercise prescriptions to maximize the blood pressure lowering effects of exercise for people with hypertension. In this way, more people with hypertension and their physicians will use exercise to prevent, treat, and control high blood pressure, the number one primary care diagnosis in the United States.

What are the goals of the project?

About 90 adults with high blood pressure have enrolled in our exercise studies. Following exercise, a majority of them lowered their blood pressure, but there were some whose blood pressure did not change or increased. There is a critical need to match the right person with the right exercise prescription to maximize the health benefits of exercise. We propose to analyze stored blood samples from the people that completed our exercise studies using the new technology of deep gene sequencing to find genes that predict who responds and who does not respond to exercise as antihypertensive lifestyle therapy. We will have an increased chance of finding these genes compared to our past studies because this new technology allows us to examine a much greater number of genes.

Budget

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We will use the funds to cover the cost of the deep gene sequencing of selected blood pressure genes we hypothesize are likely to influence the blood pressure response to exercise among the subjects completing our exercise studies. The budget will fund genetic analysis of blood samples from 25 adult volunteers who have enrolled in our exercise studies. The volunteers completed a closely monitored exercise program that was supervised by our personal trainers using state-of-the-art exercise equipment. They also had their blood pressure measured in the laboratory and under conditions of daily living. The volunteers provided their blood samples which are ready and waiting to be analyzed, but we need the funds to complete this important last step. Genetic analysis will be performed at the Jackson Laboratory for Genomic Medicine utilizing the new biotechnology of an Illumina TruSeq Custom Amplicon Kit. We are seeking an additional $6000 to analyze hormones that we hypothesize are also likely to influence the blood pressure response to exercise. We will analyze hormones related to blood pressure, exercise and hypertension at the University of Connecticut Department of Kinesiology Human Performance Laboratory at a cost of $200 per subject.

Meet the Team

Linda Pescatello
Linda Pescatello
Beth A. Taylor
Beth A. Taylor
Garrett Ash
Garrett Ash
Amanda Zaleski
Amanda Zaleski
Lauren Lamberti
Lauren Lamberti

Team Bio

My interest in exercise physiology was partially determined by my father and his love for baseball and sports, and partially by my mother and her love for biology and health care, and her belief in the importance of movement in maintaining good personal health. I have always loved athletics and played varsity sports in high school and college. I majored in biology. So when I decided to pursue a graduate degree, there was a new emerging field, exercise physiology, which seemed like a natural career fit for me combining my love for sports and biology.

Linda Pescatello

My interest in exercise physiology was partially determined by my father and his love for baseball and sports, and partially by my mother and her love for biology and health care, and her belief in the importance of movement in maintaining good personal health. I have always loved athletics and played varsity sports in high school and college. I majored in biology. So when I decided to pursue a graduate degree, there was a new emerging field, exercise physiology, which seemed like a natural career fit for me combining my love for sports and biology.

Beth A. Taylor

Director of the Center for Health, Care and Well-Being in
the Institute for Translational Research, University of Hartford

Director of Exercise Physiology Research, Hartford Hospital

PhD, Kinesiology

My research focuses on age and sex differences in vascular function and cardiovascular responses to exercise. I currently have research support to investigate the effects of factors such as smoking, testicular cancer, exercise and aging on vascular function. I also am a principal or co-investigator on several NIH-funded projects involving the pleiotropic effects of statin therapy (cholesterol-lowering drugs) in humans. I became interested in exercise, aging, health and disease through a lifetime of running and physical activity. I am excited about this project because understanding how exercise influences disease risk may help us ultimately prescribe exercise in the same manner we would a pill or prescription.

An avid runner myself, I have conducted recent studies at the Boston Marathon to determine the effects of sustained endurance exercise on blood clot risk, markers of cardiovascular injury and stress, and the effects of cholesterol-lowering drugs on these biomarkers. I am particularly interested in disseminating research and information that help others become active and improve fitness, and thus I also maintain a blog dedicated to updates and insights on health and wellness.

Garrett Ash

PhD Candidate and Graduate Research Assistant
MSc in Science and Medicine of Athletic Performance
NSCA Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist
ACSM Michael L. Pollock Scholar

I studied chemistry at Swarthmore College. Because it was a liberal arts college, our professors encouraged us to explore the possible applications of our knowledge to topics we were passionate about. I was interested in medicine but I found it even more interesting that preventive lifestyle modifications early in life could reduce the risk of disease before it even occurs. I was also a varsity cross-country runner and fascinated by the physiological processes that occur during exercise. So I decided to pursue a career in the field of exercise physiology. Working in Dr. Pescatello's laboratory has given me a number of amazing opportunities. What I've enjoyed most is the opportunity to study exercise not only at the intricate physiological level of genes, proteins, and vascular physiology, but also the level of practical applications by doing translational research applying our knowledge to improve the efficacy of exercise to prevent disease at the population level.

Amanda Zaleski

Exercise Physiologist;
PhD Candidate, University of Connecticut;
MS, Allied Health-Health Promotion;
Graduate Fellow, NASA CT Space Grant Consortium.



I am a doctoral student at the University of Connecticut in the Department of Kinesiology. I am also currently an Exercise Physiologist for the Department of Preventive Cardiology at Hartford Hospital as well as an adjunct lecturer for Middlesex Community College. Professionally, I am well versed in the field of Health and Fitness, with major interests in cardiovascular health, exercise prescriptions, blood clot risk in endurance athletes, and health motivation. I have published and presented my work all over the United States as a member of the American College of Sports Medicine. I stay busy by running with (or after) my two kids and training to run a marathon in every single state!

Lauren Lamberti

Researcher Title:
MS Candidate and Graduate Research Assistant
BS Medical Laboratory Science, University of Connecticut
Medical Laboratory Scientist, American Society for Clinical Pathology  

Researcher Bio:

Ever since I was young, sports and exercise have been an important part of my life. I was fortunate to continue my sports career into adulthood, having a collegiate volleyball career at UConn, and continue an active lifestyle to this day backpacking, hiking, and kayaking. During my time as a student-athlete at UConn, I studied medical laboratory science, diagnosing and monitoring diseases such as cancer, diabetes, liver disease, and heart disease. Between my love of sports and my desire to study chronic disease and chronic disease prevention, exercise physiology seemed like a natural fit. Entering Dr. Pescatello’s laboratory group has allowed me to collaborate and study with others who value improving health through the use of exercise. Exercise may be the most potent and underutilized medicine today, but more knowledge is needed to better guide the efficient use of exercise to combat disease.

Press and Media

We published a book in 2011 extensively reviewing research and expert opinion relating to exercise genomics.
LS Pescatello and SM Roth (eds). Molecular and Translational Medicine Series Volume: Exercise Genomics. New York, NY: Humana Press 2011 ISBN 978-1-60761-354-1. http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/978-1-60761-355-8



We published a book in 2014 that is considered to be the gold standard for anyone in the world conducting exercise testing and training programs.

LS Pescatello (ed), Arena R, Riebe DW and Thompson PD (assoc. eds.) ACSM’s Guidelines for Exercise Testing and Prescription (9th ed.). Baltimore, ML: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins 2013 ISBN 978-1-60913-605-5.




A video about our research was published on CardiovascularClinician.com in 2011.

Pescatello LS. The Additive Blood Pressure Lowering Effects of Exercise Intensity on Post-Exercise Hypotension. http://cardiovascularclinician.com/video/id/20/. April 15, 2011.




Our research and a lecture and workshop we hosted about exercise genomics was just featured in UConn Today.

http://today.uconn.edu/blog/2014/04/finding-geneti...



Additional Information

Our laboratory conducts various tests to monitor the antihypertensive effects of aerobic exericse.








One particular strength of our research is we measure blood pressure after exercise not only in the laboratory, but also under conditions of daily living. We do this using ambulatory blood pressure monitoring.


A research graduate assistant attaches the monitor in the laboratory and checks the calibration before the subject leaves.





The subject then proceeds with normal activities during the day, with blood pressure recorded about every 20 minutes.





The subject even wears the monitor while sleeping that night.




Subjects remove the monitor and return it to our staff the next morning. In this way we capture blood pressure changes occurring after exercise during all hours of the day and night under conditions of real life.

Photo Credits:
Banner: Don Debold, available online at: https://www.flickr.com/photos/ddebold/4434748226/
Laboratory Procedures: Shawn Kornegay, University of Connecticut Neag School of Education




Project Backers

  • 67Backers
  • 650%Funded
  • $6,500Total Donations
  • $84.42Average Donation
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