After spending over a decade providing perioperative care to older patients undergoing heart surgery, I brought my echocardiographic skills and interest in the biology of the aging heart to the laboratory. As director of the Cardiac Aging Laboratory, I explore the mechanisms driving diastolic dysfunction, the precursor to heart failure with preserved ejection, a form of heart failure, which commonly occurs in older women after the menopause, for which no successful pharmacologic strategies currently exist. My laboratory investigates the pathways by which estrogen maintains cardiac structure and function during aging and its interaction with the local cardiac renin angiotensin system that may reveal new therapeutic strategies to slow the pace of diastolic dysfunction after estrogen loss. My research has received over 15 years of consecutive support from the National Institute of Aging, which includes the prestigious Paul Beeson Career Development award, in addition to Dennis Jahnigen Career Development and Geriatrics for Specialists Initiative awards from the American Geriatrics Society.
In addition to this basic research, I have experience leading multi-disciplinary research teams focused on optimizing the perioperative care of the older surgical patient. Funding through the American Patient Safety Foundation enabled my team to study the importance of self-reported mobility versus frailty as a key predictor of perioperative outcome. In addition to highly developed communications skills in educational and reverse translational research, disseminated via 16 book chapters, 2 textbooks, and over 100 peer-reviewed manuscripts, I aim to foster independence and promote professional development and scholarship of mentees across all levels of training; with mentees coauthoring up to 40 peer-reviewed manuscripts and winning several research awards, including Gemsstar early-clinical career development awardees from the National Institutes on Aging. My unique and varied experiences at Wake Forest School of Medicine as a clinician scientist have empowered me to be a strong leader, educator, mentor, and “bridger” (a.k.a., communicator).