The Nishikawa lab was well represented at the 5th annual AzPS conference held at the U of A, Tuscon campus. Rene F, Kari T (Masters student), Jenna Monroy (post Doc), Cinnamon Pace (post Doc), Shane S (undergrad) and myself presented either talks or posters. It is great to travel as a lab once in a while, it allows the group to converse on topics other then science, which I feel brings the lab closer together. We brought out A-game as well. Shane won 1st prize for best undergrad poster, and Cinnamon won 3rd place for post-doc talks.

Some conference highlights was hearing about the work Kari is completing for her thesis, trying to link shiver frequencies in in mice with the “stiffness” of the muscle protein titin. Jennifer Vranish  (PhD candidate, UA) is doing some fantastic work on sleep apnea (snoring counts!). She is attempting to tone up the throat structures that usually “sag” while we sleep, limiting airway size (aka snoring or apnea). She is having subjects build this tone by having them suck on a straw (like one would when drinking a thick milkshake.) Early results on the control group are promising, and I am looking forward to hearing the results from the apnea group.

The Granzier lab (UA), also presented in numbers. They also work on the titin protein, but instead of skeletal muscle, they look at its function in cardiac muscle. I feel that we have a friendly competition with this lab group. We critically review each others posters and presentations, but in the end it makes both of our research work stronger, so I think it is healthy. I think that understanding other isoforms of titin are important because the change in function may shine some light on the purpose of titin in specific muscle types. The Granzier lab has some new grad students working with skeletal titin, perhaps our lab should consider working with cardiac titin as well.

The keynote lecturers were B. Walker (UNM) and P. Hoyer (UA). Both of these researchers have been working on their talk’s topic for over 20 years, and I found it awesome to listen to how the projects evolved over that time into what they became. Walker talked about “Novel mechanisms of vascular control in chronic hypoxia”, and Hoyer discussed “VCD (plastic byproduct) as a tool for understanding ovotoxicity and modeling menopause”. I suggest every person go to their lab websites and read up on this fascinating work.

In other news, I was elected (though unopposed) to the executive council of the society. I am hoping to keep NAU in the loop since we seem to be so far away from the action in Tuscon. I think that we should focus on getting our Exercise physiologists out to this conference. There work falls right into the scope of this conference.

thanks for reading!

A. Hessel