Scientists at LIP
I investigate the effects of physical activity and exercise on our immune systems. My goal is to use this knowledge to modulate our immune systems to promote health. Using both basic and translational approaches, my research investigates how exercise improves diseases and conditions associated with immune dysregulation, such as cancer, addiction, and age-related declines in immunity. My research also asks if infection history influences the relationship between exercise and immune health. By furthering our understanding of the immune system, this research will improve the quality of life of patients suffering from cancer and inflammation-related diseases.
Dr. Markofski's overarching research question is How do exercise and nutrition encourage healthy aging? We know that people who are physically active have a lower risk of chronic diseases and decreased mortality, but what are the mechanisms for this benefit? Dr. Markofski is primarily interested in the contribution of the immune system and skeletal muscle to healthy aging, but acknowledges that these systems are influenced by other physiological processes.
Many of the diseases typically associated with aging may not be related to aging per se, but rather an age-associated decrease in physical activity and increase in sedentary time. These changes in physical activity cause numerous changes to physiology, including to the immune system, adipose tissue, and skeletal muscle—and cause an increase in the risk for developing chronic diseases. Dr. Markofski approaches her research questions by studying the acute and chronic effects of exercise and nutrition on skeletal muscle and immune function. She is an exercise physiologist with a research agenda in exercise immunology. Her current projects encompass healthy research participants, cancer patients and survivors, and health disparities.
Research efforts focus on Exercise/Physical Activity and Cardiovascular Health:
1. To investigate the protective role of physical activity and exercise training in vascular (endothelial) dysfunction in the various pathophysiologic conditions such as obesity, type 2 diabetes, atherosclerosis, aging (Alzheimer), microgravity, etc. in animal and human models.
2. To elucidate the underlying mechanisms in which vascular function is altered by the sequelae of the diseases and physical activity/exercise training at the molecular, cellular, and intact tissue levels using isolated intact microvessels.
LIP Affiliated Scientists
Dr. O’Connor’s interdisciplinary research agenda includes evaluating the effectiveness of health-related interventions, explaining individual variation in health outcomes, and investigating the effects of physical activity on health and risk factors. He has collaborated in research across many diverse fields and topics, including obesity, health and wellness, public health, kinesiology, exercise science, rehabilitation, movement disorders, physiology, and surgery.