School of Biomedical Sciences

New investigator grant recipients for FY 2023

August 3, 2023 • Uncategorized

Congratulations to the SBS New Investigator grant recipients for FY 23.

“Comparative Analysis of MicroRNAs in the Optic Nerve Head Between Individuals of African and European Descent”

Tara Tovar Vidales HeadshotBio: Tara Tovar-Vidales, PhD, is an instructor in the Department of Physiology and Anatomy at the University of North Texas Health Science Center. She earned her B.S. in Biology from the University of the Incarnate Word in San Antonio, TX. She continued her education at the University of North Texas Health Science Center in Fort Worth, TX, where she obtained both her M.S. and Ph.D. degrees. Dr. Tovar-Vidales’ research centers around understanding the process of glaucomatous remodeling of the optic nerve head in the human eye. 

Current Project: Glaucoma is a primary cause of visual impairment and blindness globally. Individuals of African descent are more susceptible to glaucoma than those of European descent, although reasons for this disparity remain unclear. The major site of damage is at the back of the eye, a region called the optic nerve head. Current therapies for slowing vision loss are either ineffective or not conducive to prolonged treatment. The focus of this project is to investigate the role of microRNAs in the optic nerve head cells among individuals of African ancestry in comparison to those of European descent. Our goal is to understand the cellular and molecular mechanisms leading to optic nerve head damage in glaucoma patients, specifically in individuals of African descent. 

“Impaired autonomic balance in a rat model of diastolic heart failure”

Heads Up On Wednesday, February 19, 2020. Photo By Joyce Marshall

Bio: George “Gef” Farmer, PhD, is a Research Assistant Professor in the Department of Physiology and Anatomy at the University of North Texas Health Science Center. He completed his B.S. in neuroscience and Ph.D. in cognition and neuroscience at the University of Texas at Dallas. Dr. Farmer’s research investigates neural contributions to the control of heart rate and blood pressure in both healthy and pathological states.

Current Project: Diastolic heart failure, or heart failure with preserved ejection fraction (HFpEF), is associated with exercise intolerance and poor control of heart rate during periods of increased metabolic demand. While current treatments are limited a class of type 2 diabetes medications (sodium-glucose cotransport type 2 inhibitors, SGLT2i) have shown promise as a therapy for HFpEF. This project investigates the efficacy of SGLT2i in improving exercise tolerance and neural control of cardiovascular function in a rat model of HFpEF.