University of Wisconsin–Madison

Schrage Lab

Research Questions

  • What are the body’s signals responsible for regulating the normal blood flow response to exercise?
  • Do men and women regulate blood flow similarly and to the same level?
  • Does the role of sympathetic adrenergic signaling change in obesity?
  • What is the impact of prediabetes on vascular function, and is this age or gender specific?
  • How does your body increase blood flow when oxygen levels are reduced?

Our laboratory aims to understand the integrated control of blood flow in health and disease. We focus on how obesity or pre-diabetes impacts blood flow regulation, in both skeletal muscle and brain tissue. Proper control of blood flow has enormous influence on blood pressure and oxygen delivery-especially during exercise or other environmental stresses. Additionally, limitations in blood flow are often linked to cardiovascular diseases like diabetes, as well as neurodegenerative diseases like dementia. 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 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 disease?

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 session (acute exercise or hypoxia), we also think about these responses before and after long-term interventions.

Our core laboratory currently includes one study coordinator, three doctoral students, and a postdoctoral fellow. We receive medical support from several outstanding physicians, to help with drug infusions and invasive studies-which is how we explore blood flow control mechanisms.  In addition, several undergraduate students participate in both credit and non-credit programs. Finally, we are typically joined by a second-year medical student in summer- all contributing to various aspects of the research process.  The Schrage lab also has collaborations across campus, including Medical Physics, Radiology, and Endocrinology.

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