Investigators

Joshua Bundy
Sex Differences in Optimal Cardiovascular Health and Prevention of Cardiometabolic Disease
Dr. Joshua Bundy is an epidemiologist with expertise in cardiovascular disease and kidney disease. Dr. Bundy’s research seeks to identify men and women at high risk for cardiometabolic disease by focusing on primordial prevention (e.g., maintenance of cardiovascular health), subclinical disease, hypertension, and novel risk factors or therapeutic targets. Dr. Bundy is interested in testing interventions in clinical trials and employing innovative statistical approaches for evidence-based medicine, including novel risk prediction methods and exploring the intersection of technology and disease prevention.

Biography
Jill Daniel
Influence of biological sex and gonadal hormones on the brain and cognition
The broad goal of Dr. Daniel’s research is to understand mechanisms by which estrogens and androgens impact areas of the brain important for cognition. Current work in the lab is focused on the impact of these hormones on the brain and cognition across the lifespan, from early in development during which they help organize mammalian brains as male or female to later in life during which changes in their levels impact the aging brain. Research is conducted in rodent models and experimental approaches used in the lab include behavioral analyses as well as biochemical and molecular assays.

Biography
Lab
Elizabeth Engler-Chiurazzi
Sex differences in peripheral immune system impacts on brain aging and response to psychosocial stress
The overarching goal of Dr. Engler-Chiurazzi’s laboratory is to explore how the nervous and immune systems converge to impact brain function, mental health, and age-related neurological disease. Given the importance of biological sex in immune function and susceptibility to mood and brain aging-related disorders her lab is particularly interested in exploring sex-based research questions in these systems. Current efforts are focused on exploring the how B lymphocytes modulate the response to psychosocial stress in rodent models. A separate multi-investigator collaborative project aims to explore how increased infection burden across the lifespan may accelerate the trajectory of brain and cognitive aging. Finally, the Engler-Chiurazzi team is currently leveraging a powerful new animal model to explore how a single inflammatory microRNA, miR-34a, influences the development of dementia

Biography
Lab
Emily Harville
Life course and transgenerational effects on and of pregnancy
The ultimate goal of this research is to eliminate later-life risk associated with pregnancy complications and other reproductive factors and establish whether transgenerational effects occur that affect pregnancy outcomes. Current work focuses on developing the PrePARED (Preconception Period Analysis of Risks and Exposures Influencing Health and Development) consortium of preconception studies to address novel problems in preconception health; developing multigenerational studies that can help understand how health disparities are created and transmitted across generations; and building on work that has established that pregnancy complications are predictors of later-life health to address pregnancy complications and cardiovascular health in American Indian women, and implementation research for postpartum women with a history of gestational diabetes.

Biography
PrePARED Consortium
Tanika Kelly
Multi-omics mechanisms underlying cardiometabolic health
Dr. Kelly’s research program focuses on discerning multi-omics mechanisms underlying an array of cardiometabolic diseases, including hypertension, dyslipidemia, diabetes, chronic kidney disease and cardiovascular disease. The overarching goal of her program is to inform and develop precision health strategies that may ultimately curb cardiovascular disease morbidity and mortality globally. In her investigation of genomic, epigenomic, transcriptomic, proteomic, and metabolomic mechanisms underlying cardiometabolic health, close attention is paid to biology-based sex differences underlying these relationships, as well as the influence of other exogenous environmental factors.

Biography
Sarah Lindsey
Sex differences and estrogen receptor signaling in cardiovascular disease
Dr. Lindsey’s funded research program uses a combination of in vivoex vivo, and in vitro approaches to assess sex differences in hypertension and vascular remodeling and the receptor signaling mechanisms utilized by sex hormones. We specifically focus on membrane-initiated estrogen signaling mediated by the G protein-coupled estrogen receptor. Our overall goal is to elucidate sex hormone pharmacology to improve quality of life and reduce cardiovascular disease in aging women.

Biography
Lab
Dragana Lovre
Role of estrogens and progestogens on women’s health
Dr. Dragana Lovre joined the Section of Endocrinology after completing her Endocrinology Fellowship at Tulane University School of Medicine in 2016. Dragana is a past Building Interdisciplinary Research Careers in Women's Health (BIRCWH) scholar and a recent VA Career Development Award (CDA) recipient. Her clinical and research interests focus on women’s health, mainly on the effects of menopause hormone therapy on glucose and lipids.Dragana Is also studying sex differences in disease severity in hospitalized COVID-19 patients treated with estrogen and progesterone.


Biography
Heather Machado
Defining breast cancer “hot spots” during human breast development
Dr. Machado’s research focuses on understanding how alterations in epithelial-immune cell interactions during mammary gland development contribute to breast cancer risk and progression. There are critical windows during postnatal breast development, such as puberty, pregnancy and involution (post-lactation) that are highly susceptible to mutagenic events and considered “hot spots” of breast cancer risk. The Machado lab aims to understand these mechanisms with the goal of developing therapeutic and preventive strategies targeted to a specific window of development.

Biography
Lab
Franck Mauvais-Jarvis
Influences of biological sex and sex hormones in metabolic disease
Dr. Mauvais-Jarvis’ funded research program encompasses basic, translational and clinical research on the influence of biological sex in diabetes and obesity, as well as the therapeutic effects of estrogens and androgens in metabolic disease in menopausal women and androgen-deficient men. These studies extent to the influence of sex, diabetes and obesity in COVID-19 pathogenesis and the potential immunomodulatory role of estrogens in COVID-19 severity.


Biography
Lab
Janet McCombs
Impact of biological sex on Klebsiella pneumoniae infection
Working in the Center for Translational Research in Infection and Inflammation (CTRII), Dr. McCombs is interested in defining biological sex differences in mucosal host responses to Klebsiella pneumoniae infections. Information related to the influence sex-related signaling pathways have on mediating immune responses will be used to inform ongoing work developing novel immunotherapies targeting K. pneumoniae. Using a mouse model of pneumonia and in vitro biochemical assays, work in the lab is currently focused on identifying mechanisms leading to lower susceptibility of female mice to K. pneumoniae-induced lung infections.

Biography
CTRII Website
Catherine McKinley
Centering Sex and Gender in Indigenous Health Equity Research
Dr. McKinley’s funded research focuses on promoting health equity for Indigenous peoples (American Indian, Alaska Native, and Native Hawaiians) while centering sex and gender differences. Her clinical trial research focuses on developing and testing a culturally relevant and family centered intervention (the Weaving Healthy Families, or Chukka Achaffi’ Natana) Program). This program promotes health and wellness while preventing the underlying causes of premature mortality and morbidity among Indigenous peoples, namely alcohol and other drug use and violence. This intervention incorporates Indigenous health and nutrition, along with mHealth digital enhancements to improve the program’s uptake and effectiveness. Along with examining sex differences related to the effect and uptake of the intervention, sex differences related to social determinants of health related to cardiovascular, cancer, diabetes, and other chronic health problems are focal to this work.

Biography
Lab
Kristin Miller
Influence of biological sex and sex hormones on tissue remodeling and pelvic floor stability
Dr. Miller’s research program uses a combination of in vivo, in vitro, and in silico approaches to address sex differences in aging, remodeling, and regenerative potential of soft biological tissues. Current work is focused on delineating the key cellular and molecular processes of the pelvic floor to improve current interventions and ultimately prevent pelvic floor disorders. We specifically focus on understanding how biomechanical forces, such as intra-abdominal pressures, induce alterations in smooth muscle cell phenotype, elastic fibers, and fibrillar collagens.

Biography
Lab
Minolfa Prieto
Sex differences in prorenin receptor signaling in hypertension and diabetes
Dr. Prieto’s research program utilizes a wide-spectrum of cell molecular biology techniques and different rodent models of experimental hypertension, to assess sex differences in the renin-angiotensin system leading to hypertension and renal injury. The basic science branch of the program focuses on signaling mechanisms mediated by the prorenin receptor during hypertension and type 2 diabetes using in vitro approaches and transgenic mouse models with deficiency of the prorenin receptor in various cell-types. The translational branch seeks to assess the clinical impact of the soluble prorenin receptor in women with type 2 diabetes. The long-term goal of Dr. Prieto’s research program is to elucidate the impact of prorenin receptor and estrogen interactions and underlying signaling on the development of renal injury and cardiovascular complications in women.

Biography
Brian Rowan
Post-translational modifications of estrogen receptor-α(ERα) in physiology and disease
Our research focuses on understanding the role of post-translational modifications of estrogen receptor alpha (ERα), particularly phosphorylation, in physiology and disease. We demonstrated that targeted disruption of specific phosphorylation sites in ERα results in altered breast tumor growth and response to endocrine therapy. We are currently evaluating the role of ERα phosphorylation in mouse physiologic processes and development. Using a knock-in approach in mice, we demonstrated that mutation of a serine phosphorylation site to alanine in mice (S216A) resulted in delayed mammary gland development, reduced fertility and early onset of mortality in both male and female mice. Our ongoing work with S216A mice and another knock-in model, S171A mice, has demonstrated a tissue specific role for ERα phosphorylation in mice. These collective studies will provide the groundwork for rational design of agents that block or activate specific kinase signaling pathways that alter ERα phosphorylation to impact physiological processes.


Biography
Ibolya Rutkai
Effects of sex and aging on brain vascular mitochondria
The broad goal of Dr. Rutkai’s research is to investigate sex-differences in mechanisms contributing to aging-related pathologies. Specifically, Dr. Rutkai’s funded research uses a combination of rodent models, in vivo and in vitro experimental approaches to study the role of mitochondrial mechanisms during vascular aging.



Biography
Leia Saltzman
Sex Differences in the Long-Term Impact of Traumatic Loss on Cardiovascular Health
Dr. Leia Saltzman is an Assistant Professor at Tulane University in the School of Social Work and Coordinator of the Disaster and Collective Trauma Certificate Program. Trained in both qualitative and quantitative methods, Dr. Saltzman’s research uses mixed methodology and wearable technology to explore sex differences in psychosocial adaptation in the context of collective trauma and mass disaster. Her current research “ Sex Differences in the Long-Term Impact of Traumatic Loss on Cardiovascular Health “ funded by the K12 Building Interdisciplinary Research Careers in Women’s Health (BIRCWH) program focuses on sex differences in cardiovascular outcomes among bereaved adults.

Biography
Katherine Theall
Sex and Gender Differences in the Impact of Neighborhood and Policy Contexts on Health and Well-being
As a social epidemiologist, Dr. Theall’s research focuses on reducing health inequities by understanding and altering neighborhood environments and social policies for better health in underserved populations locally, nationally, and internationally. Part of this work is understanding how these environments shape health differentially based on sex as well as gender and the intersections of sex and gender with other forms of oppression (e.g., racism). Research conducted in her lab includes both secondary and primary data collection on both youth and adults, utilizing both quantitative and qualitative methods.

Biography
Mary Amelia Center for Women's Health Equity Research
Violence Prevention Institute
Jerry Zifodya
Sex differences in pulmonary and cardiovascular complications of tuberculosis and HIV
The broad goal of Dr. Zifodya’s research is to understand sex differences in progression of lung disease in vulnerable populations in sub-Saharan Africa. Current research is focused on risk factors and prevalence of pulmonary and cardiovascular disease, both of which have traditionally been understudied in African women living with HIV. He is studying inflammatory and immune activation responses in addition to transcriptomic differences that may contribute to sex differences in pulmonary and cardiovascular disease in Kenyan adults living with HIV as compared to HIV-negative adults, with a particular focus on those with a prior history of tuberculosis.

Biography