Hypertension spans across all the socioeconomic classes and ethnicities. Presenting with vague or no symptoms but associated with profound morbidity and mortality it is rightly termed the silent killer. Hypertension for several decades has been the most prevalent cardiovascular disease and the leader in all cause mortality. While the prevalence rate of hypertension is increasing, the awareness and control rate have been suboptimal and by the sixth decade of life hypertension is not only more prevalent but also less well controlled and more severe in women. Currently, Dr. Collier is investigating how sleep disturbances in firefighters and police officers make deleterious changes within the cardiovascular and autonomic nervous systems following nocturnal shift scheduling. Sleep disturbances have been found to increase the incidence of hypertension and cancer within these populations.
The Vascular Biology and Autonomic Studies Laboratories (VBASL) are located in Leon Levine Hall (LLHS 118C and 118D). The primary research of these labs investigates how exercise lowers blood pressure and how treatments such as antioxidant supplementation and chronic exercise can sustain the positive benefits. Combining the expertise of several faculty within the university, the synergistic effect is shown by diverse research topics.
The laboratories are equipped with state-of-the-art research equipment to study the human vasculature, beat-to-beat blood pressure control and even how the brain modulates our heart rate. The research focus allows the community to participate in these important trials as the researchers focus on diseases such as hypertension, cancer and atherosclerosis. While exercise is a main prevention and treatment, these labs also investigate how sleep is affected by exercise and blood pressure changes.
While cutting edge research is completed in these labs, they also serve as teaching facilities for both graduate and undergraduate students. These facilities are home to the Exercise Science Undergraduate Cardiovascular Research Team that has already had one Nationally recognized American Physiological Society Research Fellow and another internally funded scholar that are working on a project that investigates the effects of anti-oxidant supplementation on blood pressure following exercise. Students continue to be an important part of these laboratories and will complete senior capstone and Masters Theses here.