CHS Doctoral Candidate Publishes in Top Gerontology Journal
Published February 28, 2022
By Darlene Muguiro
UTEP College of Health Sciences
Marni Shoemaker, a doctoral candidate in the Interdisciplinary Health Sciences PhD Program, was recently published in the Journal of Cachexia, Sarcopenia and Muscle. This journal has an impact factor of 12.910 and is ranked first in the category of geriatrics and gerontology and ninth in medicine, general and internal, according to the 2020 Journal Citation Reports by Clarivate Analytics.
Shoemaker’s article, “Differences in muscle energy metabolism and metabolic flexibility between sarcopenic and non-sarcopenic older adults,” is the result a multi-year effort of a lab group led by Shoemaker’s faculty mentor, Dr. Joel Cramer, professor of Kinesiology and associate dean in the College of Health Sciences. Cramer, who is senior author on the manuscript, began working with Shoemaker during his tenure at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, where she also began her doctoral studies. The two were approached by Abbott Nutrition for the pilot study, which branched off prior successful studies by Cramer’s lab group.
After transitioning to UTEP in fall 2020, Cramer and Shoemaker began making plans for the final phase of the study, which compared data from 22 adults – 11 sarcopenic and 11 non-sarcopenic. Following a six-month screening, enrollment and testing process, the team analyzed their results, which revealed statistically significant differences in skeletal muscle metabolism between the two groups, and impaired fat utilization and metabolic inflexibility among sarcopenic participants. Shoemaker explained that while the group hypothesized this might be the case, they never expected the results to be so clear-cut.
“Besides examining metabolic difference, we also indirectly examined blood flow through the muscle, leading to hypothesizing whether nutrients were even getting into the muscles of sarcopenic individuals,” Shoemaker explained. “What we found was that sarcopenic individuals had basically almost no response.”
Following submission of their manuscript in June 2021 and a lengthy review process, the team was notified of their acceptance and the article was published February 17, 2022.
Cramer, who considers the article a “landmark” in his career, pointed out the fact that an acceptance from this top-ranked journal was remarkable for an experienced academic such as himself, but was truly exceptional for a doctoral candidate.
“Many people go their entire career without publishing in a journal like this, so I am very proud of Marni for her efforts,” he said.
Despite an impressive publication history – 20 articles, including seven as first-author – Shoemaker was humbled by the notification, calling it “a huge honor.” She says that her primary motivation in submitting the manuscript was the fact that the literature in the area was non-existent, giving her an opportunity to truly contribute to her field. Because muscle mass is one the main predictors of longevity in older adults, she hopes that her study will be used by gerontology practitioners.
“It’s an interesting article about a novel and very important topic,” she said. “Hopefully, it’s helpful to the readership. It’s important to me that people understand that they need to increase their skeletal muscle mass.”
Shoemaker will defend her dissertation this spring. Following graduation, she will begin a tenure-track position at South Dakota State University to continue her research, teaching, and mentoring of students. In the future, she plans to research nutrient delivery to the muscles and examine different populations, including trained and untrained individuals, youth, and the elderly.
The full article may be accessed online at this link: http://doi.org/10.1002/jcsm.12932
For more information about the Interdisciplinary Health Sciences PhD Program, please visit: www.utep.edu/chs/ihs/.
Photo courtesy of Marni Shoemaker