Research Projects

Targeted Sympathetic Ablation for the Treatment of Hypertension

Is now clear that hypertension (HTN) is associated with a chronic increase in sympathetic nervous system activity (SNA). Current pharmacological treatments for HTN block global SNA and, although this is effective, these therapies also have numerous unwanted side effects.  We are testing the hypothesis that HTN is assocated with a disease specific sympathetic signature such that SNA is preferentially increased to specific vascular beds. If this is true, then targeted ablation of these peripheral pathways may be a superior therapy for treatment of HTN (and other cardiovascular diseases).  Our current studies are focused on the role renal and splanchnic nerves in a genetic model of salt-sensitive HTN - the Dahl S rat.  This work has imporant clinical application in light of recent clinical trials with catheter based renal nerve ablation.

Role of afferent and efferent renal nerves in metabolic diseases associated with hypertension

Hypertension often coexists with metabolic diseases such as obesity and diabetes which are also linked  to increased sympathetic nervous system activity.  All of these conditions are also associated with chronic inflammation, although the cause-effect relationships unclear. We are currrently testing the hypothesis that renal nerves play an important role both as " neural sensors" of various aspects of renal function (including inflammation) and as an important efferent pathway in the pathogenesis of these conditions. 

Mathematical Modeling of Long-Term Control of Arterial Pressure 

We are currently collaborating with Dr. Hans Otmer of the University of Minnesota Department of Mathematics to construct a novel mathematical model which incorporates recent advances in our understanding of the autonomic nervous system in the long-term control of arterial pressure. Although we are in the early stages, our goal is to continue to expand this model to incorporate new findings generated by our experimental work.