“[My parents] wanted to bring myself and my siblings over to Canada to create better opportunities for us. And I’d like to think that now as a Canada Research Chair, that I took full advantage of that opportunity.”
Dr. Fajardo’s Muscle Plasticity in Health and Disease lab focuses on the improvement of muscle function to ameliorate whole body health. As muscles account for approximately 40-50% of our body mass, the processes they control go beyond simply moving from Point A to Point B. This muscle majority is crucially important for metabolic regulation, insulin sensitivity, thermoregulation, and a variety of other whole-body physiological responses. In addition, Dr. Fajardo’s laboratory studies a variety of muscle health conditions including muscular dystrophy, aging, obesity, and more recently – space flight.
“…When you go up in space, if you don’t use it, you lose it.”
As astronauts only experience microgravity while in space flight, the muscles that fight gravity, such as the postural muscles, go unused resulting in a loss of strength and muscle mass. This can greatly affect the health of astronauts while in flight and also upon return. However, by researching the muscles after return from space flight, in collaboration with NASA’s Biospecimen Sharing Program, Dr. Fajardo’s lab aims to further elucidate the effects of glycogen synthase kinase 3 (GSK3). This program aims to maximize the scientific benefit of these costly missions, making the data freely available once published. Through collaborations with Ryan Scott from the NASA Ames Research Center and Dr. Lauren Sanders from GeneLab, The Muscle Plasticity in Health and Disease lab is making strides in not only muscle health, but open science as well.