Metabolism & Organ Function in Metabolic Disease

The goal of our work is to investigate mechanisms and treatments for skeletal muscle and heart abnormalities in pediatric and adult metabolic disease.

Our laboratory is interested in the examination of mechanisms and treatments (nutritional/exercise/pharmacologic) for skeletal muscle and myocardial substrate (e.g. amino acid, glucose, fatty acid) metabolism, energetic, and functional abnormalities in metabolic diseases such as: Barth syndrome and other pediatric and adult cardiomyopathies, HIV-related metabolic syndrome, diabetes mellitus, and obesity. We are also interested in the effect of the maternal metabolic environment during pregnancy on in utero development and childhood metabolic disease including obesity, diabetes, and HIV. We employ methodology used to measure whole-body substrate metabolism by stable isotope tracers and mass spectrometry, myocardial substrate metabolism by radio-isotopes and PET imaging, heart and skeletal muscle energetics by magnetic resonance spectroscopy (MRS), peak fitness assessment by graded exercise testing and indirect calorimetry, cardiac function by echocardiography, body composition analysis by dual-energy x-ray absorptiometry (DXA) and air displacement plethymosgraphy, muscle strength by isokinetic dynamometry, and daily physical activity by actigraphy.

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Faculty Investigators

W. Todd Cade, PT, PhD


Kathryn Bohnert, MS


Adam Bittel, PhD Student
Honglu Liu, DPT Student
Eric Schmidt, DPT Student
Alyssa Collier, DPT Student

Current Research Studies

Effects of Resistance Exercise Training in Barth Syndrome
Funding Source: Barth Syndrome Foundation

The major goal of this project is to examine the safety and efficacy of resistance exercise training in boys and young men with Barth syndrome.

Heart and Skeletal Muscle Nutrient Metabolism, Energetics and Function in Barth Syndrome
Funding Source: NIH 1 R01HL107406-01A1

The major goals of this project are to characterize myocardial and skeletal muscle nutrient metabolism, energetics and function in children and young adults with Barth syndrome.

Exercise Training to Improve Brain Health in HIV+ Individuals
Funding Source: NIH 1 R01 NR015738-01A1 (PI: Ances)

This project will test the impact of a combined endurance and resistance exercise training program on the cognitive health of people with HIV infection.

Weight Management in Obese Pregnant Underserved African American Women
Funding Source: NIH U01 DK094416 (PI: Klein, Haire-Joshu , Cahill)

This project will test a novel diet and physical activity intervention to help obese socioeconomically disadvantaged African American women achieve healthily weight control during and after pregnancy and improve the metabolic and neurologic health of their offspring.

Past Research Studies

Safety and Efficacy of Aerobic Exercise Training in Barth Syndrome (Barth Syndrome Foundation)

Maternal Lipid Metabolism and Neonatal Heart Function in Diabetes Mellitus (Thrasher Research Fund)

Exercise and TZD Effects on Myocardial Substrate Metabolism and Function in HIV (NIH KDK074343A)