Schrage Lab

Research Questions

  • What are the body’s signals responsible for regulating the normal blood flow response to exercise?
  • How does your body increase blood flow when oxygen levels are reduced?
  • Do men and women regulate blood flow similarly and to the same level?
  • Does excess adiposity change blood flow regulation? By what mechanisms?
  • What is the impact of prediabetes on vascular function, in muscle or brain circulations?

Our goal is to understand how blood flow is regulated 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. In addition, 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.
In other words, how do our bodies regulate blood flow in skeletal muscles and brains, 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 short-term hypoxia), we also think about these responses before and after long-term interventions.
Our core laboratory currently includes one study coordinator and three doctoral students, and one MS student. 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. The Schrage lab also has collaborations across campus, including Medical Physics, Radiology, and Endocrinology.