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Two students win research fellowships from American Physiological Society

  • Kinesiology major wins research fellowship
    Kinesiology major wins research fellowship  Sarah Todd '10.  
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Two William and Mary students are recipients of summer research fellowships from the American Physiological Society, continuing the kinesiology department's excellent record with this competitive award for undergraduates.

Sarah Todd '10, a kinesiology major, will study the molecular signaling of blood flow with Robin Looft-Wilson, assistant professor of kinesiology at William & Mary. Daniel Sinden '11, a neuroscience and philosophy major, will serve his fellowship at the University of Virginia School of Medicine.

APS fellowships are awarded to only 24 undergraduates nationally each year, and William and Mary's kinesiology department has hosted five APS fellows during the past four years; three in Looft-Wilson's lab and two working in the lab of Brennan Harris.

Each fellow receives a $4,000 stipend to cover living expenses during the 10-week fellowship and will present their work at the society's Experimental Biology 2010 meeting, expected to attract nearly 14,000 scientists.

In Looft-Wilson's lab this summer, Todd will study how arteries respond to the mechanical effects of blood flow at the molecular level, work that has important implications for cardiovascular disease and stroke, which are promoted by disturbed or decreased blood flow.

"Cardiovascular disease is one of the leading causes of death in the United States. Also, with aging, your blood vessels deteriorate," Todd explained. "Professor Looft-Wilson is working with blood vessels and the signaling mechanism between different layers of cells, when they dilate and contract. When the blood vessels dilate and contract, it helps with flow."

Sinden will be working on a problem arising after the repair of blood vessels that have been closed up by the effects of atherosclerosis, or other cardiovascular diseases.

"A common method of opening them back up again is to use a wire mesh stent. The problem is that the blood vessels will grow over these stents, and get closed all over again," he explained. "I'm going to be researching how certain antiproliferative drugs that are applied to these stents can stop this overgrowing of the stent through changes in specific gene expression."   i