Professor of Physical Therapy
College of Public Health and Health Professions
Physical therapy Professor Krista Vandenborne is focused on three main areas of research: non-invasive techniques for the evaluation of muscle function, enhancing muscle function through everything from gene therapy to exercise, and examining the underlying physiological processes of muscle repair.
In particular, Vandenborne studies adaptations in skeletal muscle during disuse, disease and therapeutic treatments.
“Muscle wasting occurs within days of disuse,” Vandenborne says. “A muscle will lose 15 percent of its size and 30 to 40 percent of its strength after only two weeks of disuse. Patients suffering from cancer, AIDS, or other illnesses that may confine them to bed for extended periods of time are especially at risk of experiencing muscle weakness.”
Vandenborne is using the university’s impressive array of MRI devices to better understand what happens to muscle during wasting and regeneration. UF’s McKnight Brain Institute have some of the world’s most powerful MRI machines. Vandenborne implements magnetic resonance imaging and spectroscopy techniques to study the efficacy of rehabilitation, pharmacological and gene therapy interventions following disease and disuse.
Vandenborne was attracted to MRI technology for muscle and skeletal research because of its noninvasive nature, which is essential for longitudinal studies in patients with chronic disabilities.
Vandenborne is also studying the potential of gene therapy and stem cell incorporation to guard muscles from the impacts of disuse and disease and to speed up muscle regeneration.