Texas Tech University

Heather Vellers, PH.D,RCEPPage Title

Heather VellersResearcher:Heather Vellers, Ph.D., RCEP

Title: Assistant Professor in Exercise Physiology

Laboratory: Room 121, Mitochondrial Genetics and Exercise Laboratory

Personal Statement

Dr. Vellers has six years of experience conducting genetic studies in mice. She completed a two-year Postdoctoral Research Fellowship at the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) in Research Triangle Park, North Carolina. Dr. Vellers completed her Ph.D. in Exercise Physiology at Texas A&M University. Dr. Vellers' research involves investigating the role of the mitochondrial genome with endurance exercise trainability. In July 2019, Dr. Vellers received funding from the San Antonio Nathan Shock Center for her project entitled, "Role of Genetic Background on Age-Related Changes in Mitochondrial Genome Dynamics: Influence of Aerobic Exercise." The purpose of this work is to uncover how aerobic exercise and genetics associate and interact to influence the aging process. The broader application of her research agenda is to implement individualized exercise training and/or nutritional supplementation for improved exercise trainability, and ultimately, slowing of the aging process.

Application of Expertise to Health Disparity Research:

Dr. Vellers plans to apply her skills and expertise in mitochondrial genetics to health disparity research. The mitochondrial genome contributes to a host of health disparities, including cancer, cardiovascular disease, obesity, among others. However, because experimental techniques and bioinformatic methods for sequencing the complete mitochondrial genomes are relatively new, identification of point mutations throughout the genome contributing to specific health disparities remains unknown. Dr. Vellers is finalizing a pipeline for sequencing the mitochondrial genome with TTU's Biotechnology and Genomics Core Laboratory Director, Dr. Mohamed Fokar. Thus, having established this pipeline will not only allow Vellers' to fulfill her work in health disparity research regarding mitochondrial genetics, but also the work of other investigators at TTU.

Laboratory Skills Capabilities:

• Sequence the complete mitochondrial genomes in various sample types from mice and humans

• Assess for nuclear and mitochondrial DNA lesions and mitochondrial DNA copy number

• Assess for excessive mitochondrial-derived oxidative stress via serum levels of cell-free mitochondrial DNA

• Perform western blotting

• Perform enzyme-linked immunosorbent assays

• Quantify DNA and protein via Qubit Analyzer

Laboratory Equipment:

• Eppendorf Thermal cyclers

• Qubit Fluorometric Quantification

• Centrifuges

• Dry Bath Incubator

• Fume hood

• Biosafety Cabinet

• Plate Shaker

• -80° freezer, -20° freezer, and refrigerator

• Other general laboratory equipment and supplies

Department of Kinesiology & Sport Management

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    Box 43011, Texas Tech University, 2500 Broadway, Lubbock, TX 79409
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