Jill Barnes, who currently is a faculty member at the Mayo Clinic, will be joining the Department of Kinesiology as an assistant professor in early 2015.
Barnes accepted an offer to join the UW–Madison faculty in 2013, but shortly thereafter received a career development award from the National Institutes of Health, which stipulated she spend another year training at the Mayo Clinic. Barnes expects to officially start her work at UW– Madison in January.
Her primary research focus is on better understanding the effect of aging on blood pressure and blood flow regulation, and how this relates to the risk of cognitive decline and dementia.
“We know that cardio-vascular disease is a risk factor for dementia,” explains Barnes. “But once someone has hypertension, they are pretty far advanced in terms of blood flow regulation. So we’re trying to find markers that we can identify earlier on in the healthy aging process to find those who may be at accelerated risk for cardiovascular disease or cognitive decline. And if we can do that, maybe we can find ways to restore blood flow to more normal levels before symptoms set in.”
Locating biomarkers that may signal the onset of cognitive decline often utilizes brain imaging technologies. Part of the reason Barnes is so excited about coming to UW– Madison is that Associate Professor Dane Cook and Professor Dorothy Farrar-Edwards, who chairs the Department of Kinesiology, are already utilizing such scanning technologies in their work.
Barnes also is examining how this blood flow regulation differs between men and women.
“With an expanding aging population it’s important to identify factors that can help people live longer, healthier, more productive lives,” says Barnes, who holds an undergraduate degree in Movement Science from the University of Michigan, and a master’s and Ph.D. in Kinesiology/Cardiovascular Physiology from the University of Texas-Austin.
Lisa Cadmus-Bertram arrived on campus in August after spending the previous year as an assistant professor of Family and Preventative Medicine at the University of California-San Diego.
Her research focuses on the role of physical activity and obesity in cancer risk and prognosis, and she is particularly interested in the use of technologies to help individuals improve their eating habits, physical activity level and weight.
Cadmus-Bertram has a new National Institutes of Health grant starting in September that will allow her to examine sitting time and how this relates to breast cancer survivors.
“This allows us to go beyond examining the importance of exercise, but also looks at sitting time as a risk factor,” explains Cadmus-Bertram, who was a competitive cross country runner and track athlete in high school and college, and says physical activity is important to her on a personal level.
Cadmus-Bertram explains that she conducts two different types of research. One is population-based epidemiological research that examines large numbers of women who are diagnosed with breast cancer, and how their survival rates are linked to how much – or how little – they exercise. She also conducts clinical trials that examine how well behavioral interventions – such as exercise, weight loss or other programs – can impact health. She plans to continue to collaborate with those at UC-San Diego on her research, as well as build new partnerships with those at UW–Madison’s Carbone Cancer Center.
Cadmus-Bertram adds that she is looking forward to being able to teach regularly with her new job at UW–Madison, something she did less of at UC-San Diego.
Although Cadmus-Bertram grew up in Iowa, earned an undergraduate degree from Carleton College in Northfield, Minn., and a master’s and Ph.D. in Epidemiology and Psychology from Yale University, there is some Badger in her bloodlines. Cadmus-Bertram says her sister and parents all conducted graduate-level work at UW–Madison.
“From a research, academic and teaching perspective, this just seemed like a perfect fit,” Cadmus-Bertram says of joining the Department of Kinesiology faculty as an assistant professor.