BME Ph.D. candidate awarded NIH F31 NRSA Fellowship

Taylor Yeater, Ph.D. candidate in the Orthopaedic Biomedical Engineering Laboratory, received a National Institutes of Health (NIH) Ruth L. Kirschstein National Research Service Award (NRSA) Individual Predoctoral Fellowship for her project titled, Investigating the role of osteoarthritic pain and inflammation on autonomic nervous system shifts using preclinical models.

The prestigious fellowship covers full tuition, stipend, and educational expenses. Yeater’s mentor on the project is associate professor, Dr. Kyle D. Allen.

The objective of this research proposal is to elucidate novel mechanisms of neural joint-brain circuits and their dysfunction in osteoarthritis (OA).

Osteoarthritis is a prevalent musculoskeletal disease characterized by local, low-grade inflammation in the affected joints. Pain is the cardinal symptom of OA. In the early stages of the disease, pain arises with the use of the joint, indicating a nociceptive component. Although local neural and inflammatory changes in OA are commonly studied, OA also contributes to changes beyond the joint, such as lowered thresholds of dorsal horn neurons. To address these gaps, the central goal of this proposal is to close the gap between nociception at the knee and vagal nerve activation and investigate the role of nociception and the autonomic nervous system in the symptomatic and pathophysiologic progression of OA. Filling these gaps in knowledge will lead to new understandings of the progression of OA, and could contribute to new treatments for OA.

Ruth L. Kirschstein NRSA for Individual Predoctoral Fellows (F31) Award supports promising doctoral candidates who will perform dissertation research and training for a Ph.D. degree in a scientific health-related field relevant to the mission of National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin during the tenure of the award.