Many hands-on experiences exist for IPHS students to become involved. By enrolling in IPHS 390—Senior Fitness, students can lead various exercise programs for older adults who live in the community. Opportunities include leading water aerobics exercises, land exercise or strength training. These leadership roles provide students with needed volunteer hours for physical and occupational therapy and other professional health service fields.
Unique, Hands-On Experiences
Temperature Regulation Pills
The EHS Department recently purchased a new piece of equipment that will greatly improve our abilities to study temperature regulation. The system relies on a temperature sensitive pill that an individual swallows that sends a radio-frequency signal from within their gastro-intestinal track to a hand held monitoring unit that displays their core temperature. Several studies have already been planned to use the new system, including a study of the hydration status of men’s and women’s basketball players as they participate in pre-season practice, a study of the cooling effects of underarmor™, and the body temperature of hikers on the Appalachian Trail. For more information on these temperature sensing pills visit www.hqinc.net
Muscle Physiology Laboratory
The current work ongoing in the Muscle Physiology laboratory is centered around understanding key regulators of muscle mass. The work utilizes cell culture with study of C2C12 cell behavior being the standard in vitro model of myogenesis (muscle formation). C2C12 cell culture is used by students in the advanced muscle physiology course as well as independent student researchers. In the required course laboratory, students design their own experiments to establish the effects of important hormones/growth factors on muscle development.
Independent Research Opportunities
More recently, student researchers have used the cell culture model to test the claims of a common over-the-counter supplement purporting to increase muscle cell number and size. Data collected to date raise serious questions regarding the proposed mechanism of supplement action. Our data show a decrease in the proliferation of muscle precursor cells and the formation of mature muscle cells in the presence of the supplement. Studies are continuing to establish the signaling mechanisms responsible for the supplement’s negative regulation of myogenesis. Typical results from immunofluorescence studies can be seen below. In these studies, proteins specifically produced by mature muscle cells (for example, myosin) are tagged with fluorescent markers. As concentrations of the supplement are increased the amount of the muscle-specific protein is decreased with no myosin produced in the presence of the highest concentration of supplement.
Control 0.0001 uL/mL
Immunofluorescent Imaging showing the decrease in myosin-producing cells when in the presence of the supplement with no mature muscle cell formation seen when in the presence of the highest dose of supplement (100uL/mL)
In addition to the cell culture work, the laboratory also studies regulation of cardiac muscle contraction. More specifically, mechanisms underlying the defects in cases of genetic cardiomyopathies are the emphasis. In collaboration with the Laboratory of Dr. R. John Solaro at the University of Illinois College of Medicine in Chicago, we are studying the thermodynamics of the key regulatory interaction between troponin I and troponin C and how these properties are affected by various mutations in the two proteins.