BOSTONIn the early 1990s, biomedical researchers interested in finding the causes and cures for diseases, were rapidly narrowing their focus from the broad interconnected regulatory networks of the human body to genes. For many years, these small snippets of genetic information seemed to hold the key toward vastly improving human health.
However, in recent years, there's been a reappraisal, says Mayo Clinic anesthesiologist and exercise researcher Michael Joyner, M.D. His work, concentrating on understanding the mechanisms behind a broad array of biomedical experiences linked with health and disease, including blood pressure, blood flow during exercise, and blood sugar control, and the research efforts of many other scientists are now showing that there are many different ways of regulating key bodily functions. Thus, a single genetic glitch within a human network might not be problematic as other elements in the network adapt and compensate for the glitch. This redundancy vastly complicates what some researchers had hoped might be a series of simple, easy to fix, one-gene problems that would explain most diseases.
In honor of his illuminating work and contributions toward advancing physiology as a field, the American Physiological Society (APS) has selected Dr. Joyner to present the Walter B. Cannon Memorial Lecture at the Experimental Biology 2013 meeting (EB 2013). This lecture is the Society's pre-eminent award lecture and is designed to recognize an outstanding scientist for his or her contributions to the field.
Several Systems, One Goal
Dr. Joyner became interested in physiology and medicine after a lackluster start at the University of Arizona in 1977. "I was a terrible student, almost flunking out of college," he says.
A walk-on athlete on the school's track team, Dr. Joyner was asked to volunteer for a physiology study to examine lactate threshold. After visiting the physiology lab several times,
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Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology