Minnesota Nursing magazine

Physiology lab

Physiology lab strengthens research capabilities

Lab offers ‘every way that you would want or need to do aerobic exercise and test it’
Steve Rudolph

Its discreet location and understated signage don’t do justice to the oversized role the Laboratory of Clinical Physiology has on the school’s research capabilities and patient health. The lab supports a critical role in School of Nursing research ranging from examining how exercise can slow the progression of Alzheimer’s to studying peripheral artery disease, heart failure and metabolic conditions such as diabetes and chronic kidney disease. The facilities also are used in drug and smoking cessation studies, as it is available for use across the Academic Health Center as well as to researchers outside the University. “Any area of research related to cardiorespiratory fitness and cardiovascular function fits our services really well,” said Assistant Professor Dereck Salisbury, PhD, who directs the Laboratory of Clinical Physiology.

On any given day, a visitor to the lab could find a study participant exercising on a treadmill or arm bike as a team of researchers monitor and measure various outputs. “We have about every way that you would want or need to do aerobic exercise and test it,” said Salisbury. “We offer the capacity to perform cardiopulmonary testing, measure cardiorespiratory capacity, cardiovascular function, along with maximal oxygen consumption, among other things.”

Salisbury noted the lab also has the capacity to noninvasively measure cardiac output, a unique technique not found in many locations. Along with a wide range of exercise and testing equipment, the lab is supported by research assistants trained on guidelines from the American College of Sports Medicine related to clinical exercise testing.

Lab allows researcher to accomplish research aims, improve health

Assistant Professor Ryan Mays, PhD, MPH, utilizes the lab in his research on community-based exercise programs for patients with vascular disease. “My goal is to improve patients’ health. But you can’t adequately determine a patient derived benefit from an interventional program unless you have high quality outcomes assessments. That’s what the lab can provide,” said Mays, who cited the lab as a reason he chose Minnesota to further his research. “And you’re not breaking the bank to do it.”

The lab bolsters the ability to compete for research grants as well as recruit and retain world-class faculty. “The NIH specifically asks for facilities and resources, so you have to outline explicitly and in a great level of detail what you have in place to accomplish what you say you’re going to accomplish,” said Mays. “If you don’t have the infrastructure we have because of the lab, you’re not in the environment with which to succeed.”


Abvove: Dereck Salisbury, lab director, talks with Becca Brown, while Kaitlyn Kelly reviews the procedures for cardiopulmonary exercise testing with a research participant. A MGA 1100 Mass Spectrometer analyzes gas exchange to quantify cardiorespiratory fitness and a 12-lead electrocardiogram monitors heart rate and rhythm.