Allison DeVan believes "it is very important to perform clinically-relevant research that can be translated from pre clinical models to humans. Therefore, my dissertation focused on the role of habitual exercise on protection of arteries against ischemia-reperfusion injury in humans. Ischemia-reperfusion injury occurs when blood flow is blocked (whether by plaque, a blood clot, or spasm) to an organ (in the case of the heart, produces a heart attach)."
And while studies using animals indicated habitual exercise helps to protect the coronary arteries of the heart from injury, no studies had been done in humans. DeVan used the artery in the arm as a surrogate model for the coronary arteries and found that advancing age is associated with a greater magnitude and delayed recovery from vascular ischemia reperfusion injury in humans. She says that habitual endurance exercise may provide partial protection to the endothelium against this form of injury with advancing age.
Now a postdoctoral fellow/research faculty at the University of Colorado at Boulder in the Integrative Physiology of Aging Laboratory under the direction of Douglas Seals, Ph.D., she is researching the effects of aging, exercise, nutraceuticals, and disease on endothelial function and large elastic artery stiffness in humans. She hopes to become a biomedical researcher at a top research institution following her postdoctoral fellowship.