Smuder, Ashley

  • BS, Exercise Physiology, University of Florida
  • MS, Exercise Physiology, University of Florida

Student Profile

Ashley J. Smuder received her BS in Exercise Physiology from the Department of Applied Physiology and Kinesiology at the University of Florida in 2006. Immediately following graduation, Ashley joined the laboratory of Dr. Scott K. Powers (UAA Endowed Professor and Distinguished Professor of the Department of Applied Physiology and Kinesiology) to work towards a Master of Science degree. Ashley’s research focused on understanding the signaling pathways contributing to disuse muscle atrophy. Following completion of her MS in 2008, Ashley was accepted to the Exercise Physiology Doctoral Program and she continues to work under Dr. Scott K. Powers. Ashley joined the NMPT during the second year of her PhD and her current research continues to investigate the signaling pathways that regulate muscle proteolysis.

Research Project Description

Mechanical ventilation (MV) is used clinically to sustain pulmonary gas exchange in patients that are incapable of maintaining adequate alveolar ventilation. It is well established that prolonged MV results in the rapid onset of proteolysis leading to both diaphragmatic atrophy and contractile dysfunction. Importantly, MV-induced diaphragmatic weakness increases the difficulty of weaning patients from MV. Given the large number of patients that experience difficulty weaning from MV, understanding the mechanism(s) that contribute to MV-induced diaphragmatic weakness is important. Therefore, Ashley’s research objective is to investigate the signaling pathways that may contribute to MV-induced diaphragmatic wasting. Determining the pathways responsible for MV-induced diaphragmatic weakness is an essential step toward developing effective approaches to oppose this damaging process. Ashley’s experiments will provide important mechanistic information, which can be used to develop effective clinical therapies to retard MV-induced diaphragmatic weakness and hopefully, decrease problems with weaning from MV.