Professors receive $3 million grant for research on exercise in older adults

Dr. Sandra Hunter, professor of exercise science in the College of Health Sciences, along with colleagues Dr. Chris Sundberg, assistant professor of exercise science in the College of Health Sciences, and Dr. Robert Fitts, professor emeritus of biological sciences in the Helen Way Klingler College of Arts and Sciences, received a $3 million R01 grant from the National Institutes of Health for their study on fatigue and the protective effects of exercise in older adults.







Hunter is listed as the contact principal investigator on the grant, and Sundberg and Fitts are co-principal investigators. Additional Marquette co-investigators Chris Sundberg include Dr. Kathleen Lukaszewicz, clinical assistant professor of physical therapy; Dr. Carolyn Smith, clinical assistant professor of exercise science; and Dr. Mehdi Maadooliat, associate professor of mathematical and statistical sciences.

The grant, titled “Fatigability of Limb Muscle in Older Adults: Protective Effects of Exercise,” will include clinical trials to test the effectiveness of coupling high-velocity resistance exercise with blood flow restriction to improve muscular function, power and stamina in older men and women.

“As we advance in age, our muscles, especially those in our arms and legs, become weaker and fatigue more easily,” Hunter said. “This can make it difficult for men and women beyond age 65 to generate the limb power necessary to perform daily activities such as climbing stairs.”

The team’s study will address the issue of muscle power and stamina, and will identify potential sex differences by determining whether these issues are due to impairments in the musculoskeletal system, the vascular system or both.

“This research program is a prime example of a powerful cross-disciplinary collaboration,” said Dr. William E. Cullinan, dean of the College of Health Sciences at Marquette University. “The work among these researchers, both within the College of Health Sciences and across the university, will generate robust and comprehensive data on how exercise can be deployed as a preventative health tool in aging populations.”