The last stop on our trail of physiology this Fall is Arizona. The Arizona Physiological Society held their annual meeting on the Medical Campus of the University of Arizona in Tucson on November 11-12.
The meeting opened with a special session for future (and current) physiologists interested in careers outside of academia. With academic jobs being so hard to come by, it is great that this chapter is supporting future scientists by suggesting alternate career options.
Dr. Douglas C. Eaton, from Emory University School of Medicine in Atlanta, presented the Keynote Lecture for the meeting. His talk was “The phosphatidylinositol phosphate regulation of eNaC: lipid rafts, cytoskeleton, and MARCKS protein.” In a nutshell, his research is centered on how lipids help to regulate the activity of epithelial sodium channels (ENaC). You might recall the phrases, “water follows salt” or “where salt goes, water follows” from your science courses. Therefore, these channels are really important in the regulation of fluid balance in the lungs as well as the total body.
The Distinguished Arizona Lecture was given by Dr. Kiisa C. Nishikawa from Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff. Her talk was “What is the role of titin in active muscle?” Titin is a large elastic protein in muscle that Dr. Nishikawa’s studies have shown plays a role in the elastic recoil of muscle contraction.
Other highlights from the meeting included talks on how the activity of the electron transport chain in sparrows is much greater than that of rats allowing the birds to utilize fat more efficiently for energy (Kuzmiak S, Willis WT; Arizona State University). A talk presented by Dr. Rayna Gonzales (University of Arizona) focused on how dihydrotestosterone may actually protect blood vessels in the brain from inflammation. Another presentation showed that the energetic demands of flight compete with the demands of digestion in hawkmoths (Manduca sexta) (Contreras HL, Davidowitz G; University of Arizona).
There were also many interesting poster presentations. Researchers from Northern Arizona University in collaboration with Dr. David Lee from UNLV, presented a poster on how North American bullfrogs are able to generate enough force to jump while they are floating in water (Wilkinson KC, Nishikawa KC, Uyeno TA, Lee D). There was also a poster on how mutations in the titin protein may be involved in muscular dystrophy (Tiffany H, Gage MJ; Northern Arizona University). In other studies, potassium channels were found to be critical in the vasodilation of avian arteries (Jarrett C, Lekic M, Smith CL, Sweazea KL; Arizona State University). Researchers at Midwestern University found that 5 weeks of treadmill training actually worsened symptoms of diabetes in a mouse model compared to animals that were allowed to run voluntarily or animals that remained sedentary (Broderick TL, Parrott CR, Ghosh P).