Vandenborne Laboratory

The mission of the Muscle Physiology Laboratory is to non-invasively quantify the plasticity of skeletal muscle from disease, disuse, and aging. This area of research is key to the fields of physical therapy, physiology, rehabilitation, muscle biology, aging, and imaging.

One area of research utilizes Magnetic Resonance Imagining (MRI) to follow the progression of muscle disease in people with Muscular Dystrophy.

Muscle Physiology Laboratory

In our interdisciplinary research endeavors, we utilize some of the most powerful magnets in the world through the Advanced Magnetic Resonance Imaging and Spectroscopy facility, also located within the McKnight Brain Institute, to perform magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and spectroscopy (MRS)  to follow the progression of muscle disease in people with Muscular Dystrophy. The most common form of muscular dystrophy is Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD), which affects approximately 1 in 3,500 boys. This degenerative and devastating disease is an X-linked chromosomal, recessive muscle disorder caused by the lack of a muscle protein (dystrophin). Boys with DMD experience a gradual decrease in their ability to walk and move as their muscles get weaker with time, and this progressive disease is universally fatal with most patients passing by their mid-20’s

Currently, assessment of therapeutic approaches in both children with DMD and animal models relies heavily on muscle biopsies. This invasive technique is problematic in evaluating the efficacy of interventions in patients with DMD who often have extensive muscle damage and cardiac pathology.

Student working on computer.

Therefore, it is imperative to develop non-invasive techniques capable of evaluating changes in muscle integrity in both clinical and pre-clinical studies. With this goal in mind, researchers in the Muscle Physiology Laboratory are using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and spectroscopy (MRS) as non-invasive measures to quantify disease progression and treatment for muscular dystrophy. With support from the Muscular Dystrophy Association and Parent Project Muscular Dystrophy, patients with DMD from all over the United States, Canada and other countries are participating in a multi-site (CHOP, OHSU, and UF) longitudinal study to validate the use of MRI and MRS in monitoring disease progression.

We are evaluating these patients for muscle size (MRI), muscle composition (MRS), leg strength (dynamometry), gait and movement abilities (functional timed tests), walking ability (gait parameters), physical activity (accelerometers), and quality of life (questionnaires). Findings from this study will be used to validate the use of MRI/MRS in clinical trials as well as to build upon the existing knowledge base to provide optimal rehabilitation care for patients with DMD.

Lab Personnel

Student in Lab.

Drs. Krista Vandenborne, PT, PhD, and Glenn Walter, PhD, lead the other lab members consisting of several PhD students through the Rehabilitation Science Program and Interdisciplinary Program in Biomedical Sciences as well as individuals interested in pursuing a post-doctoral fellowship, investigating plasticity of the neuromusculoskeletal system.

Meet the team


Children in clinic.

The Vandenborne Laboratory continually collaborates with other departments and faculty from the University of Florida and other Universities and Hospitals.

Glenn Walter, Ph.D., Department of Physiology and Functional Genomics, University of Florida

Roxana Bendixon, Ph.D, OTR/L, Department of Occupational Therapy, University of Florida

Our Network

Oregon Health and Science University (OHSU)

Shiner’s Hospital for Children – Portland

University of Pennsylvania (UPenn)

The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP)

More Information

Find out more about our cutting edge research projects involving Muscular Dystrophy.

Wellstone Muscular Dystrophy                                     Imaging DMD

Wellstone Muscular Dystrophy

Imaging DMD

Research Funding

Projects are funded through the National Institutes of HealthNational Science Foundation, the Muscular Dystrophy AssociationParent Project Muscular Dystrophy, and the Paralyzed Veterans of America.