August 22, 2013 — Qinghui Chen, assistant professor in Michigan Tech’s kinesiology and integrative physiology department, wants to get to the bottom of two cardiovascular diseases: hypertension and congestive heart failure.
Hypertension is high blood pressure, which contributes to stroke, heart failure and kidney failure. Congestive heart failure is the weakening and inability of the heart to supply sufficient blood flow to meet the needs of the body.
Both are chronic and dangerous — and common worldwide: up to 10 percent of people over age 65 experience congestive heart failure; up to 25 percent are affected by hypertension.
There is an elusive component with both diseases: they agitate the central nervous system, but it is unknown how. Chen says his goal is to decipher these neural mechanisms.
“We know there’s a neural part of these two diseases,” he said, “but we don’t completely understand what’s going on. There’s a gap in the science.”
Exercise also induces significant changes of neural activity, and Chen addresses the role of exercise in mediating the two diseases. “This is important work,” he said. “If we can identify the mechanism, then we can develop a treatment.”
Chen has gone from the clinician to the scientist. He went to medical school in China, then earned a Ph.D. in cardiovascular physiology in Japan, focusing on figuring out the central nervous mechanism of cardiovascular disease.
He came to Tech in 2010 from the University of Texas in San Antonio. In 2009, he received the Recognition Award for Meritorious Research by the Central Nervous Section of the American Physiological Society.
For more information: www.mtu.edu