Human Physiology Laboratory at Emory University

The Human Physiology Laboratory at Emory University is directed by Dr. Jeanie Park and housed within both the Emory University Division of Renal Medicine and the Atlanta VA Medical Center Clinical Studies Center.  Using a wide array of human research techniques including microneurography, hemodynamic monitoring, pharmacologic manipulation of blood pressure, ultrasound, near infrared spectroscopy, and direct vascular measures, the laboratory investigates neural and vascular abnormalities contributing to increased cardiovascular risk in patient populations such as those with chronic kidney disease, hypertension, obesity, smokers, and stress disorders.  Engaged in translational research, the laboratory conducts both basic mechanistic studies in humans as well as clinical trials to investigate novel therapies to improve cardiovascular risk and sympathetic function in patient populations.  The laboratory is funded by NIH, VA Merit, and AHA grants.

Research Projects

Exercise Pressor Responses in Chronic Kidney Disease

Park research project Patients with chronic kidney disease (CKD) have poor exercise tolerance which contributes to increased cardiovascular risk in this patient population.  We have shown that CKD patients have exaggerated increases in blood pressure and sympathetic nerve activity during exercise which could contribute to exercise intolerance and cardiovascular risk.  Ongoing work includes elucidating the mechanisms of the augmented exercise pressor reflex, and examining mechanisms underlying increased neurovascular transduction of sympathetic nerve activity during physical activity in CKD patients.

Therapeutic Interventions targeting Sympathetic Overactivity in Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD)

We previously showed that treatment with tetrahydrobiopterin (BH4), an essential cofactor for the function of nitric oxide synthase (NOS), improves resting muscle sympathetic nerve activity (MSNA) and measures of vascular stiffness in CKD patients.  Our laboratory conducts randomized controlled clinical trials testing the potential benefits of nonpharmacologic (exercise training, meditation, device-guided slow breathing) and pharmacologic (BH4, bicarbonate supplementation) therapeutic interventions on hemodynamic, autonomic, and neurovascular measures both at rest and during exercise. 

Sympathetic Regulation in Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

Park researchproject 2 Patients with PTSD are at increased risk of developing hypertension and cardiovascular disease.  The mechanisms underlying this increased risk in PTSD remain unclear. Our laboratory is examining the potential roles of abnormal sympathetic nerve reactivity, arterial baroreflex sensitivity, inflammation, and parasympathetic activity at rest and during mental stress in this patient population. 

Therapeutic Interventions targeting Sympathetic Overactivity in PTSD

Our laboratory conducts randomized, double-blinded, placebo-controlled trials testing the potential benefits of both short-term and long-term interventions on autonomic function, baroreflex sensitivity, hemodynamics, inflammation, as well as PTSD symptoms.  Current trials include the acute and long-term effects of device guided slow breathing, and angiotensin II receptor blockade using losartan, on physiologic measures and symptoms in PTSD.

Lab Members

Jeanie Park Robert Downey
Jeanie Park, MD MS
Assistant Professor of Medicine 
Ryan Downey, PhD
Postdoctoral Research Fellow
Dana Dacosta Melanie Kankam
Dana DaCosta, BS
Clinical Research Coordinator
Melanie Kankam, MS
Clinical Research Coordinator
Peizhou Liao Christy Kang
Peizhou (Devin) Liao, BS
Graduate Research Assistant
Christy Kang
Undergraduate Research Assistant
Kara Ye Chelsea Kang
Kara Ye
Undergraduate Research Assistant
Chelsea Kang
Undergraduate Research Assistant

Publications

View the lab publications on the NCBI website.

Contact Us

Emory University HospitalJeanie Park, MD MS
Emory University Renal Division
Woodruff Memorial Research Building
1639 Pierce Drive, WMB 3300
Atlanta, GA 30322
Email: jeanie.park@emory.edu

Career Opportunities

Seeking Postdoctoral Researcher at Emory University School of Medicine

Two postdoctoral research positions are available in the human physiology laboratory of Dr. Jeanie Park at Emory University School of Medicine.  The laboratory is housed within the Emory University main campus, and at the Atlanta VA Medical Center Clinical Studies Center.  Dr. Park’s research focuses on the regulation of the sympathetic nervous system in humans at high cardiovascular risk.  Funded projects include investigations of sympathetic control during exercise in chronic kidney disease, mechanisms of intradialytic hypertension in end-stage renal disease, and sympathetic regulation during stress in patients with stress-related disorders such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).  The lab also engages in clinical trials testing benefits of pharmacologic and nonpharmacologic interventions on sympathetic control in patients with CKD and PTSD.  The successful candidate will have an M.D., or Ph.D., or other doctoral degree in physiology or a related field.  Experience with human physiology research techniques, ultrasound or microneurography is desirable but not essential.  Salary is commensurate with NIH guidelines.  Interested candidates should forward inquiries, along with a CV, statement of research interests, and contact information for three references to Jeanie Park, MD, at jeanie.park@emory.edu