Faculty Mentors are all from the University of Maryland School of Public Health and all have current and pending extramural funding in content areas that are highly relevant to cardiovascular disease. Because of the School of Public Health’s emphasis on biomedical and behavioral factors surrounding important public health issues relevant to residents of Maryland and surrounding communities, the nation, and beyond, most of the faculty’s research programs are in these areas. In particular, substantial research is on behavior, specifically physical activity/exercise training, as an exposure to affect outcomes relevant to cardiovascular disease risk factors. In some cases, faculty research focuses on reducing other risk behaviors, such as smoking. The faculty have a mix of expertise that ranges from laboratory-based bench research to applied community-based research.

Faculty Mentors Are in the Areas Listed Below:

Exercise and the Cardiovascular (CV) System

James Hagberg, PhD
Professor – Departments of Kinesiology, Medicine, Public Health and Epidemiology

Dr. James Hagberg's previous research assessed the genetics of CVD risk factor responses to exercise training in sedentary older men and women. He maintains a database of CV fitness, plasma lipoprotein lipids, body composition, bone density, glucose tolerance, insulin sensitivity, and inflammatory, coagulation, and fibrinolysis measures from before and after a standardized six-month exercise intervention in ~200 older men and women from this study. This database contains ~40 genotypes, numerous phenotypes, and banked plasma and DNA samples for these individuals. Trainees could analyze new relationships among the genotype and phenotype data, or they could measure new phenotypes in the plasma samples or genotype new polymorphisms in the DNA samples. More recently, Dr. Hagberg has studied the effects of exercise and lack of exercise on circulating angiogenic cells, adult stem cells that have regenerative capacities within the CV system, in middle- to older-aged healthy individuals and clinical populations. Dr. Hagberg has a long history of mentoring as the major advisor for 16 PhD and 20 masters students. He and his lab mentored numerous trainees in the first ten years of the UM STAR program and the first five years of the UM ADAPT Program.

Sarah Glancy, PhD
Assistant Professor – Department of Kinesiology

Dr. Sarah Glancy earned her PhD from Arizona State University in 2012 in Exercise Biochemistry and joined the faculty of the University of Maryland Department of Kinesiology in 2017. She studies cardiac mitochondrial energy production matching to energy demand. i.e. how cardiac muscle cells increase ATP production at the onset of exercise. She is funded by the American Heart Association to investigate how the cellular milieu affects energy production in cardiac mitochondria in an animal model of heart failure with preserved left ventricular ejection fraction. Trainees could participate in bench research, performing experiments measuring calcium uptake in heart mitochondria. Dr. Glancy is currently funded via an American Heart Association Career Development Award titled" Matching Myocardial Energy Supply to Increases in Demand: Altered Calcium Action in Heart Failure. "Dr. Glancy has mentored a number of undergraduate and graduate students during her graduate school and postdoctoral training.

Steven Jay, PhD
Assistant Professor – Department of BioEngineering

Dr. Steven Jay earned his biomedical engineering PhD from Yale University in 2009 and then completed postdoctoral training at Harvard/MIT. His laboratory develops rationally-designed therapeutic biotechnologies involving exosomes, other extracellular vesicles and engineered proteins. A driving force behind his work is to translate discoveries and innovations into clinical therapies. He currently collaborates with Dr. Hagberg to examine the effects of exercise on endothelial function to enhance therapeutic vascularization. Dr. Jay's research is currently funded by an NIH/NHLBI RO1 titled "Controlling Exosome Noncoding RNA Cargo for Enhanced Wound Healing." Dr. Jay also directs an honors undergraduate student team that is investigating similar mechanisms to potentially treat osteoarthritis and has mentored a number of masters and PhD students.

 

Steven Prior, PhD
Assistant Professor – Department of Kinesiology

Dr. Steven Prior earned his PhD in kinesiology from the University of Maryland and then rejoined the UM faculty in 2017. He has published 30 scientific papers. Dr. Prior studies the mechanisms by which the risk for age-associated cardiometabolic diseases, functional deficits and associated vascular impairments are improved in older adults with exercise training. These studies include cardiometabolic and functional phenotyping, as well as skeletal muscle and plasma samples in ~70 older adults. Trainees could analyze relationships among novel disease predictors and cardiometabolic phenotypes or assay samples for novel targets. Dr. Prior's research is currently funded by an NIH/NIA R21 grant titled "Neuromuscular Rehabilitation to Improve Function in Older Adults with PAD," which though funded through NIA clearly is primarily focused on the CV system, angiogenesis and CV disease risk factors. He has mentored a number of graduate students, as well as six postdoctoral fellows and junior faculty members.

Sushant Ranadive, PhD
Assistant Professor – Department of Kinesiology

Dr. Sushant Ranadive earned his PhD in exercise physiology from the University of Illinois and completed postdoctoral training at the Mayo Clinic. He joined the University of Maryland faculty in 2017. He has 41 publications on vascular function and exercise training in postmenopausal women and sex differences in vascular function, inflammation and oxidative stress. Trainees can participate in data collection and analyses for these projects. Dr. Ranadive's research is currently funded by a UM internal grant to assess "Racial Differences in Vascular Function Following Induced Acute Inflammation." Dr. Ranadive has mentored a high school student, three undergraduate students, one medical student and one MD-PhD student previously at the Mayo Clinic.

J. Carson Smith, PhD
Associate Professor – Department of Kinesiology

Dr. J. Carson Smith earned his PhD in 2000 in exercise science from the University of Georgia and completed postdoctoral training at the University of Florida in psychophysiology. He joined the University of Maryland faculty in 2011 and has 40 publications. His lab studies the efficacy of physical activity in improving metabolic health and brain function and structure, as measured by MRI, in older adults at increased risk for Alzheimer's disease. He has studied the effects of exercise on cerebral blood flow using arterial spin labeling and brain activation using functional MRI. Dr. Smith's research is currently funded by an NIH/NIA RO1 titled "Exercise for Brain Health with Increased Genetic Risk for Alzheimer's Disease," which is a large exercise intervention trial assessing blood brain flow. He has mentored a number of graduate and undergraduate students and has mentored five UM STAR Trainees.

Biology of Cardiovascular, Blood and Lung Diseases

Kan Cao, PhD
Associate Professor – Department of Cell and Molecular Biology

Dr. Kan Cao received her PhD in Biology from Johns Hopkins University in 2005 and then completed postdoctoral training in genomics at NIH with Francis Collins. Dr. Cao was named a New Scholar in Aging by the Ellison Medical Foundation in 2011. She studies molecular and cellular mechanisms underlying Hutchinson Gilford progeria syndrome (HGPS), a rare premature aging disease. Roughly 90 percent of HGPS cases are caused by a de novo mutation in the lamin A gene which causes life-threatening CVD in HGPS patients. Previous research has shown a profound and massive loss of smooth muscle cells in large arteries in both human patients and HGPS mouse models, strongly suggesting a connection of this phenotype with the CV malfunction and death associated with HGPS. The primary goal of her laboratory is to elucidate the molecular pathway behind this phenotype. To investigate this question, her laboratory applies a suite of techniques from cell biology, stem cell biology, to genomics. Her current collaborators include Drs. Francis Collins (NIH/NHGRI) and Richard Hodes (NIH/NIA). Her research is funded by two NIH/NHLBI RO1 awards. Dr. Cao has a long history of mentoring, serving as an advisor for eight PhD students, five postdoctoral fellows, and ten undergraduate students.

Jonathan Dinman, PhD
Professor, Department of Cell and Molecular Biology

Dr. Jonathan Dinman received his PhD from the Johns Hopkins School of Public Health in Immunology and Infectious Diseases in 1988 and then completed postdoctoral training and was a Senior Staff Fellow at NIDDK in Virology. He joined the University of Maryland faculty in 2002. His research focuses on understanding the causes and impacts of defects in the DNA translational apparatus. He is a leader in the field of translational recoding, having pioneered genetics, biochemical and biophysical analyses of how cis-acting elements on mRNAs interact with ribosomes to alter the readout of the genetic code. One aspect of his research is focused on ribosomopathies. Thes are genetic diseases that paradoxically present initially as pathologies caused by too few cells, e.g. anemias, followed by those caused by too many cells, e.g. leukemias. Dr. Dinman has shown that the first part of this paradox, known as Damashek's riddle, can be explained by rapidly dividing cells having too few ribosomes to meet their translational needs, while the second part is caused by secondary mutations that suppress the cellular replicative defects. His research is currently funded by two NIH RO1 grants – one from NHLBI and the other from NIGMS. Dr. Dinman has a long history of mentoring as the major advisor for ten postdoctoral fellows, 23 PhD, five masters, 42 undergraduates, six high school students, and three under-represented minority high school science teachers. He has mentored numerous under-represented minority trainees, including Native Americans, Hispanic Americans, and African Americans and a deaf PhD student.

Alisa Morss Clyne, PhD
Associate Professor – Department of BioEngineering

Dr. Alisa Morss Clyne completed her PhD at MIT, was then on the faculty at Drexel University, and joined the University of Maryland faculty in 2019. She seeks to understand how integrated biochemical and biomechanical factors contribute to CV disease. Specifically, she alters the biochemical environment (by changing glucose levels or extracellular matrix proteins) and assesses how endothelial cells respond to mechanics (e.g., shear stress, cyclic strain, substrate stiffness). She also perturbs the mechanical environment and measures how endothelial cells respond to biochemical signals, such as angiogenic growth factors. Her lab is very interested in endothelial metabolism, which has recently emerged as a therapeutic option to reduce microvascular angiogenesis in cancer. However, little is known about how endothelial metabolism impacts macrovascular diseases such as atherosclerosis. Her current research, titled "The Effect of Laminar and Disturbed Flow on Endothelial Glucose Metabolism," is funded by an NHLBI RO1 grant. She has been a PI on an NSF REU, NSF education grant, and a Department of Education Graduate Assistance in Areas of National Need (GAANN) program. Thus she has substantial experience mentoring undergraduate students. In addition, she has six undergraduates working in her lab at present, plus two high school students. She has also mentored several under-represented minority doctoral students in a Bridge to the Doctorate program, one of whom is in her lab currently. She also directs a summer bridge program for incoming Drexel University under-represented minority women freshmen.

Silvia Muro, PhD
Associate Professor – Department of BioEngineering

Dr. Silvia Muro earned her PhD in Molecular Biology from the University Autonoma of Madrid (Spain). She then completed two postdoctoral fellowships – one in Human Genetics in Spain and the second in Drug Delivery at the University of Pennsylvania, where she initiated her independent research program as an Assistant Professor in Pharmacology. She joined the University of Maryland faculty in 2008 and currently has a dual appointment at the University of Maryland and the Catalan Institute for Research and Advanced Studies in Spain. Her training in cell biology/drug delivery focused on vascular endothelial cell adhesion molecules, their trafficking (endocytic transport and recycling) and signaling. She identified a new pathway and used it for vascular, intra-endothelial delivery of polymer nanoparticles. Her research has evolved into the design of ligand-targeted carriers to control the final destination of their cargoes, with particular focus on drug delivery to the vascular endothelium, into or across this interface, including the lung. She has developed combination targeting of a drug carrier to several vascular endothelial receptors or several epitopes of the same receptor and has identified ICAM-1-mediated transcytosis, which she uses for drug delivery. The application of her studies is pursuing the delivery of enzyme therapies, illustrated in the example of treatment of lysosomal storage disorders affecting the cardiovascular system, the lungs, and the brain. Her current research titled "Targeted Replacement of Defective Lysosomal Enzymes in the Lung and Brain" is funded by an NIH/NHLBI RO1 grant and additional funds from international, university, and private sources. Dr. Muro has mentored five high school students, 38 undergraduate students, ten PhD students, and 12 postdoctoral associates.

Sougata Roy, PhD
Assistant Professor – Department of Cell and Molecular Biology

Dr. Sougata Roy earned his PhD in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology from the Indian Institute of Science in 2006. He then completed postdoctoral training in developmental biology at the University of California – San Francisco School of Medicine. He joined the University of Maryland faculty in 2014. His research aims to understand the cellular and molecular mechanisms that cells use to communicate over long distances during animal tissue development, specifically during tissue branching morphogenesis. Within a developmental field, cells can precisely regulate the levels, timing and location of signal exchange. Any aberration in this control mechanism leads to developmental malformations and disease. An illustrative example is pulmonary hyperplasia, which in the mouse can result from either reduction or elevation of FGF10 signaling. Dr. Roy's research explored and first established a novel 'direct delivery' mechanism of FGF by specialized actin-rich signaling filopodia, named cytonemes, in Drosophila. His research showed how cells use cytonemes to directly exchange FGF and how this mechanism creates a branched tissue pattern. His current research is taking advantage of powerful state-of-the-art microscopic imaging, biochemistry, cell biology, genome engineering, and Drosophila genetics to continue to explore and investigate the mechanisms that control cytonemes-mediated signal exchange and tissue morphogenesis. Given the conservation of signaling mechanisms in all animals, this research on branched airway epithelium will also have a lasting impact on knowledge about general development and a wide range of diseases in humans. His research is currently funded by an NIGMS R35 MIRA titled "Mechanisms of Cell Communication in Animal Development" which continues his line of research originally funded by an NIH/NHLBI K00/R99 titled "Drosophila tracheal cytonemes in long-range FGF signaling'. The goal of this project is to understand the mechanisms of cytoneme-mediated signaling communication during branching morphogenesis of Drosophila trachea. He has successfully mentored postdoctoral fellow, graduate and undergraduate students, and trainees.

Cardiovascular and Pulmonary Epidemiology

Kerry Green, PhD
Associate Professor – Department of Behavioral and Community
Health

Dr. Kerry Green is funded by NIDA, NIA, and NIAAA to study risk factors over the life course, especially in older urban African Americans, as well as the interrelationship of substance use and mental health. She was recently funded by an NIH/NIA R01 to assess the long-term health consequences, including CV mortality and morbidity, of early life experiences in a 45 yr longitudinal follow-up cohort now that they are turning 60 with a goal to better understand pathways to successful aging, including a range of CV outcomes. She has published 60 peer-reviewed articles, is dedicated to reducing health disparities among underrepresented minorities and has mentored numerous students from under-represented minority groups.

Robin Puett, PhD 
Associate Professor - Maryland Institute for Applied Environmental Health

Dr. Robin Puett received her PhD in epidemiology/environmental health science from the University of South Carolina in 2004. She was on the faculty there before joining the University of Maryland faculty in 2011. She has 45 publications on spatial epidemiology, statistics, environmental epidemiology, and exposure assessment in environmental health. She has several publications on the Nurse's Health Study and the Health Professionals Follow-up Study cohorts. Her current two lines of research are: "Air Pollution, Subclinical CVD and Inflammatory Markers in the SEARCH Cohort "funded by an NIEHS RO1 award and "Relationship of Ambient Air Pollution Exposures with Vaso-Occlusive Pain Crises in Sickle Cell Disease" funded by an NIH/NHLBI R21 grant. She has supervised numerous Masters and PhD students and has mentored junior faculty on diversity supplements and NIH K submissions, with many being under-represented minorities.

Lesliam Quiros-Alcala, PhD
Assistant Professor - Maryland Institute for Applied Environmental Health

Dr. Lesliam Quiros-Alcala earned her PhD in Environmental Health Sciences from the University of California Berkeley. Her research focuses on evaluating environmental exposures to chemical agents in vulnerable populations, including mothers, children, low-income/underserved communities, and occupational populations. She also designs and implements novel interventions to mitigate environmental exposures and their potential health risks. Her current research, titled "Antimicrobial Agents and Asthma Morbidity among African American Children with Asthma," is funded by an NIH/NHLBI KO1 award. Dr. Quiros-Alcala has served as a mentor to several PhD/DrPH, MPH/MS, and undergraduate students, including five students from under-represented backgrounds.

Technology and Cardiovascular Disease

Cynthia Baur, PhD
Professor, Director, Maryland Center for Health Literacy

Dr. Cynthia Baur completed her Communication PhD at the University of California, San Diego. She joined the University of Maryland faculty in 2017 as the Endowed Chair and Director of the Horowitz Center for Health Literacy. She previously spent 17+ yrs in senior US Department of Health and Human Services and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention positions. She led the National Action Plan to Improve Health Literacy and Healthy People health communication objectives. Dr. Baur's research is funded by an NLM RO1 titled "HealthyMe/MiSalud Smartphone Application: Identifying Mechanisms to Engage African Americans and Hispanics in Personal Health Libraries "which will address the barriers in these populations that limit their use of smartphone apps to optimize their health, especially in terms of CV disease and diabetes. Her research focuses on how people find, understand, and use health information. She has mentored junior staff at DHHS and CDC and undergraduate and graduate students since arriving at the University of Maryland.

Jin-Oh Hahn, PhD
Assistant Professor – Department of Mechanical Engineering

Dr. Jin-Oh Hahn was on the University of Alberta faculty and joined the University of Maryland faculty in 2012. He earned his PhD in dynamical systems, control, and systems physiology from MIT and completed postdoctoral training in closed-loop anesthesia control at the University of British Columbia. He has 70 journal articles and research in his lab that addresses cuff-less blood pressure monitoring, CV system signal identification, signal processing, health monitoring, risk predictor estimations and mortality prognosis, and autonomous closed-loop circulatory resuscitation. Trainees can be involved in these research activities in both experimental and theoretical capacities. His research is funded by an NIH award titled "Unobtrusive and Affordable Blood Pressure Monitoring via Pulse Transit Time," as well as NSF, Department of Defense, American Heart Association, and industry. He has a track record of mentoring trainees, including post-docs, PhD and MS students, undergraduate students, and K-12 students.

Quynh Nguyen, PhD
Assistant Professor – Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics

Dr. Quynh Nguyen received her PhD in Epidemiology in 2011 from the University of North Carolina School of Public Health and joined the University of Maryland faculty in 2017. She focuses on contextual and economic factors related to health. She has extensive experience using numerous national and international population-based health surveys to examine social and economic predictors of adult health and to quantify national and international patterns in health disparities. Her current research projects titled 1) HashtagHealth and 2) Neighborhood Looking Glass are funded by an NIH BD2K Mentored Career Development Award (K01) and an NLM R01 to use social media and Google Street View to provide a national database by which numerous CVD risk factors, including obesity, hypertension, and diabetes, can be assessed in terms of the neighborhood characteristics. She has supervised 32 masters and doctoral students thus far in her career.

Neil Sehgal, PhD, MPH
Assistant Professor – Department of Health Policy and Management

Dr. Neil Sehgal received his PhD in Health Services and Policy Analysis from the University of California - Berkeley in 2015 and joined the University of Maryland faculty in 2016. He has extensive experience in health services research and studied health innovations and quality of care at the University of California – San Francisco Division of Hospital Medicine since 2004. Until August 2016 he led a team of researchers, project managers, and statisticians who made up the validation research program of the University of California – San Francisco Center for Digital Health Innovation, where he developed a research and validation program for the University of California – San Francisco -Samsung Digital Health Innovation Lab, a partnership to advance digital health technology and implementation through rigorous research. As the Senior Research Scientist, Dr. Seghal designed research protocols for the clinical validation of novel health technologies, many of which were focused on monitoring CV data and phenotypes. He is currently working with a private company to design and execute clinical trials to validate the accuracy of their sensor technology for wearable heart rate and blood pressure devices. He also collaborates with Dr. Baur on her project, HelathyMe/MiSalud described above. He has not yet had the opportunity to mentor undergraduate students, as none of his previous positions involved undergraduate researchers.