Scientists at LIP

Dr. Emily LaVoy

Associate Professor
Health and Human Performance
Office Number: 104b GAR
Phone: 713-743-0829

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. Melissa Markofski

Associate Professor
Health and Human Performance
Office Number: 104U GAR
Phone: 713-743-6658
Email: mmarkofs@Central.UH.EDU

Dr. Markofski's overarching research question is How do lifestyle factors, such as exercise, encourage healthy aging and reduce disease risk? 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 studies the acute and chronic effects of healthy lifestyle activities (exercise, physical activity, and nutrition) on the immune system, skeletal muscle function, and aging. She has a particular interest on exercise, the immune system, and cancer.

Many of the diseases typically associated with aging may not be related to aging per se, but rather age-associated changes in exercise and physical activity, nutrition, and body composition. Consequently, signaling pathways associated with inflammation and metabolism are affected by these changes. The modification of these signaling pathways can lead to an increased risk of chronic disease. Her lab is currently focused on how these factors impact cancer risk and recovery. For example, it is well accepted that the risk for colon cancer is reduced in people who are physically active, but the role of the immune system in this risk reduction is not completely understood.

Dr. Melissa Markofski 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.

Dr. Yoonjung Park

Associate Professor
Health and Human Performance
Office Number: 104F GAR
Phone: 713-743-9350

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. Daniel O'Connor

Dean; College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences, Professor
Office Number: 145 MEL
Phone: 713-743-2377

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.