Welcome to the BioDynamics Lab - Schrage Lab, University of Wisconsin-Madison
School of Education, Department of Kinesiology
Our laboratory is focused on understanding the integrated control of blood flow in health and disease. Proper control of blood flow has enormous influence on blood pressure and oxygen delivery-especially during exercise or other environmental stress. Specifically, the laboratory is interested in how cardiovascular conditions including obesity or pre-diabetes alters blood flow and how regular physical activity may improve blood flow and blood vessel function. Various state-of-art methods are used to conduct experiments directly in human volunteers.
The primary goal of our research is to determine the causes of age-and disease-related alterations in muscle blood flow or brain blood flow, and the mechanisms responsible. In other words, how do our bodies regulate blood flow, and how does this change with age or disease?
We use integrative approaches to test how blood flow is controlled during exercise or environmental stressors like hypoxia. We are very interested in mechanisms responsible for controlling blood flow, including signals from nerves, contracting muscles, substances in the blood, and the vessels themselves. While much of our research focuses on the cardiovascular response to a single exercise session (acute exercise), we also study adults before and after long-term interventions such as regular exercise (chronic exercise training).
Here is a sample of our research questions:
- What are the body’s signals responsible for regulating the “normal” blood flow response to exercise?
- What are the effects of free radicals on vasodilation in obesity?
- What is the impact of metabolic syndrome on vascular function?
- Does diet and exercise improve vascular function in pre-diabetes?
Our laboratory currently includes two PhD students and an MS student. In addition, several undergraduate students participate in both credit and non-credit programs, and we are typically joined by a second-year medical student- all contributing to the research process. The Schrage lab also has collaborations with colleagues at UW Hospital and Clinics, UW School of Medicine and Public Health, and UW School of Pharmacy.
William Schrage PhD
I received my Ph.D. in physiology from the University of Missouri-Columbia in 2001. After completing a postdoctoral fellowship in integrative cardiovascular physiology at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., I accepted a position as assistant professor in the Department of Kinesiology at UW-Madison. My scientific interests have evolved from vascular adaptations to exercise training in animal models, to animal model of prolonged bedrest, to impacts of aging in humans, to today where our focus is primarily on obesity-related conditions.
I am married with two daughters, who talked me into two dogs and two cats, too. In my free time, I am a runner, biker and free heel skier serving as a member of the National Ski Patrol at Tyrol Basin.
John Harrell, MS
I am an Indiana native, with a BS from University of Dayton and MS from University of Tennessee. I am interested in how obesity and metabolic syndrome influence the regulation of blood flow (cerebral & limb) during exercise and environmental stress. Are there progressive impairments in blood flow as disease state worsens? Human research offers our lab rewarding personal interaction with participants. After work, you can find me spending time with Mrs. Harrell, exercising (on my better days), playing bar-league sand volleyball, hacking up a golf course, snapping photographs, or brewing beer.
Garrett Peltonen, MS
Hi, my name is Garrett Peltonen and I am originally from a small town in northern Wisconsin. I spent the past seven years living in Colorado, where I earned a BA from the University of Colorado-Boulder and an MS from Colorado State University. Since arriving at UW-Madison, my research interests have evolved to include blood-flow regulation during exercise and disease. Exercise is wonderful! Additionally, I am hoping to examine the impact of insulin on vasoreactivity in central and peripheral arteries. When not clanking test tubes in the lab, I can be found riding my bicycle in the hills west of Madison, running laps up and down the isthmus, or drinking copious amounts of diet soda.
J. Mikhail Kellawan
B.Sc. Honours Human Kinetics – University of Guelph
M.Sc. Kinesiology – University of Victoria
PhD Kinesiology and Health Studies – Queen’s University
I am a Canadian originally from Toronto, Ontario but mostly grew up in a nearby university town called Guelph. Guelph is also where I attended university and earned my B.Sc. Honours in Human Kinetics (University of Guelph). From there I completed a M.Sc. Kinesiology from the University of Victoria and am currently finishing my PhD at Queen’s University. I am interested in almost all aspects of exercise physiology; however, I am mainly fascinated with the relationship between the delivery of oxygen to exercising muscle (muscle blood flow) and the metabolism of muscle during exercise. Mainly, I am interested on how the mechanisms involved with regulating oxygen delivery and muscle metabolism integrate together and affect an individual’s ability to perform and tolerate exercise, as well as everyday life activities. Away from the lab, I enjoy playing and watching almost all sports, going to movies, going out for a good meal, and having a laugh. I look forward to exploring what Madison has to offer and experiencing the campus of a major American university.
Key Collaborators at UW
Marlowe W Eldridge, MD, UW School of Medicine and Public Health, (UWSMPH) Department of Pediatrics
John Dopp, PharmD, UW – Madison, Department of Pharmacy
Barbara J Morgan, PhD, UW – Madison, Department of Kinesiology
Lester T Proctor, MD, Medical College of Wisconsin, Department of Anesthesiology
Joshua J Sebranek, MD, UWSMPH, Department of Anesthesiology
Scott A Hagen, MD, UWSMPH, Department of Pediatrics
Benjamin J Walker, MD, UWSMPH, Department of Anesthesiology
Pat McBride, MD, UWSMPH, Department of Cardiology
Jackie Limberg, PhD, 2012. Postdoctoral fellow at Mayo Clinic.
Rebecca Johansson, MS, 2013
Undergraduate Alumni-current position
Patrick Meyer-medical school
Angie Brellenthin-graduate school
Adam Keifer-medical school
Trent Evans-graduate school
Jennie Scidmore-PA school
Caitlin Zillner-research position
Molly Dixon-medical school
Recent Medical Students
Sergio de Sousa Maia Jr (Brasil) 2011
Monika Cesnjevar (Slovenia) 2011
Peter A Yanke, 2012
UW Cardiovascular Research Center
UW Institute on Aging
Institute for Clinical and Translational Research (ICTR)
UW Respiratory Neurobiology Training Program
Wisconsin Prevention of Obesity and Diabetes (WiPOD)
UW Diving, Environmental and Exercise Physiology (DEEP) program
There are a variety of opportunities in the Schrage lab including those for undergraduates, medical students, and potential MS and PhD students.
- Undergraduate students: please contact Dr. Schrage directly about getting involved in our studies. We like to expose fresh enthusiastic minds to what human research is all about.
- Potential MS students: for non-thesis MS, please link to the Department of Kinesiology Web site related to our Graduate Program. Explore the different labs to get an idea of what you would like to do. www.education.wisc.edu/kinesiology/graduate/
- Potential MS or PhD students: First contact Dr Schrage directly to talk about your interests. Also review the requirements for our doctoral program in the department. www.education.wisc.edu/kinesiology/graduate/
- Potential postdoctoral research fellows: please contact Dr Schrage directly to talk about your interests.
Students will have exceptional resources to facilitate their research including access to the Respiratory Neurobiology Training Program (Neurobiology, Physiology, Kinesiology, Comparative Biomedical Science) the UW Cardiovascular Research Center, and other opportunities in a rich collaborative environment.
Students will be involved in experimental design; collection, analysis and interpretation of data; preparation of oral and written scientific reports, composition of scientific manuscripts for submission to journals and writing personal and lab grant applications. Break time (What we do for fun)
Terrace Journal Clubs (Memorial Union or new Union South)
Lab canoe trip, holiday parties, birthday celebrations
Ice cream breaks
How do we approach our research questions?
Human studies provide a unique set of challenges. Whole body exercise is a fascinating but very complex process, so we often design studies to focus on one or two mechanisms using single limb exercise. Foremost, we must conduct our studies with subject safety in mind since we are studying human volunteers. However, we can still get quite mechanistic in our research with physician support for our studies. Despite challenges, we are performing studies within the working body, so we know that the outcomes are directly applicable to human medicine. In the future we plan to work with other UW researchers to take advantage of the different animal models of exercise and state-of-the art techniques so we can gain greater molecular and cellular insight into the processes we study in humans. The University of Wisconsin is a world-class research institution, and we are very fortunate to work and play here in Madison.
Research Approaches and Techniques
The equipment we use provides the ability to make real-time accurate measures of cardiovascular function (and dysfunction) in exercising humans. Below is a brief overview of our research capabilities in the lab:
High-resolution ultrasonography is used to image large peripheral arteries for the determination of vascular structure and function, as well as to measure peripheral blood flow during environmental or exercise stressors
Arm and leg exercise ergometers are used to study the control of muscle blood flow during rhythmic dynamic exercise
Intra-arterial drug infusion into exercising muscle, to locally and specifically manipulate signals in the body.
Metabolic cart and gas blenders to mimic high altitude environments.
Skeletal muscle microneurography to measure levels of sympathetic nerve activity between groups and changes in nerve activity to exercise or stress.
Current Research Funding Sources
National Institutes of Health (NIH)
American Diabetes Association (ADA)
UW Cardiovascular Research Center
UW School of Public Health-Shapiro Medical Scholars Program
UW Graduate School
Previous Research Funding Sources
American Federation for Aging Research (AFAR)
American Heart Association (AHA)
UW Virginia Horne Henry Foundation
American Physiological Society
American College of Sports Medicine
Some JOURNALS we read:
Journal of Applied Physiology
American Journal of Physiology
The Journal of Physiology
Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise
- JW Harrell and WG Schrage. Cyclooxygenase-derived vasoconstriction restrains hypoxia-mediated cerebral vasodilation in young adults with metabolic syndrome Am J Physiol Heart Circ Physiol. 2013 in press. PMID: 24213610.
- Limberg, JK, RE Johansson, PE McBride and WG Schrage. Increased leg blood flow and improved femoral artery shear patterns in metabolic syndrome after a diet and exercise program. Clinical Physiology and Functional Imaging. 2013 in press. PMID: 24237709
- Limberg JK, JW Harrell, RE Johansson, MW Eldridge, LT Proctor, JJ Sebranek, and WG Schrage. Microvascular function in younger adults with obesity and metabolic syndrome: Role of oxidative stress. Am J Physiol Heart Circ Physiol. 2013 PMID: 23934859
- Limberg, JK, BJ Morgan, WG Schrage and JA Dempsey. Respiratory modulation of sympathetic nerve activity in the steady state. Am J Physiol Heart Circ Physiol 304(12):H1615-23, 2013. PMID: 23585141, PMCID: 3680774
- Harrell, JW, BJ Morgan and WG Schrage. Impaired hypoxic cerebral vasodilation in younger adults with metabolic syndrome. Diab Vasc Dis Res. 10(2):135-42, 2013. PMID 22752659.
- Limberg, JK, BJ Morgan, JS Sebranek, LT Proctor, BJ Walker, MW Eldridge and WG Schrage. Altered neurovascular control of the resting circulation in human metabolic syndrome. J Physiol, 590 (Pt 23): 6109-19, 2012. PMID: 23027821
- Blain, GM, JK Limberg, GF Mortenson, and WG Schrage. Reduced rapid vasodilation in obese humans. Acta Phys 205 (1): 103-112, 2012. PMID:21981828
- Limberg, JK, and WG Schrage. Hypoxia: Just say NO? J Physiol 589(Pt 9):2111-2, 2011. PMID: 2153203
- Limberg, JK, TD Evans, CM Zillner, JJ Sebranek, LT Proctor, MW Eldridge and WG Schrage. Heterogeneous Vascular Responses to Hypoxic Forearm Exercise in Young and Older Adults. European J Appl Physiol 2011. PMID: 22198326
- Limberg, JK, TD Evans, GM Blain, DF Pegelow, JR Danielson, MW Eldridge, LT Proctor, JJ Sebranek and WG Schrage. Effect of obesity and metabolic syndrome on hypoxic vasodilation. European J Appl Physiol 112 (2): 699-709, 2011. PMID: 21656228
- Limberg, JK, MW Eldridge, LT Proctor, JS Sebranek and WG Schrage. Alpha-Adrenergic Control of Blood Flow during Exercise: Effect of Sex and Menstrual Phase. J Appl Physiology 109(5): 1360-68 2010. PMID: 20724565
- WG Schrage, BW Wilkins, CP Johnson, JH Eisenach, JK Limberg, NM Dietz, TB Curry and MJ Joyner. Roles of nitric oxide synthase and cyclooxygenase in leg vasodilation and oxygen consumption during prolonged low-intensity exercise in untrained humans. J Appl Physiology 109(3):768-777, 2010 PMID: 20558755
We're always seeking volunteers to participate in our research. Benefits most often include financial compensation for your time. Some studies include assessment of body composition and bone density via dual energy X-ray absorptiometry (DEXA), and blood chemistry (cholesterol, glucose) analysis.
We have several groups of adults we’d like to study, so please consider volunteering if you meet some of these criteria. Please call 608-263-6308 or email SchrageLab@education.wisc.edu for more information
If your community group has an interest in healthy practices through exercise and aging, please feel free to contact us. It is part of our mission to provide those in the community the information from our studies in a manner that is easy to understand.