Research Centers and Laboratories
The Behavior, Cognition and Neuroscience Laboratory (BeCognitive Lab)
The BeCognitive Lab, located in the Campbell Building, aims to: 1) explore neuroplasticity mechanisms at the brain networks level to better understand functional problems people with brain disorders (after trauma, in neurodegeneration), and 2) create rehabilitation programs by combining brain stimulation modalities (behavioral and magnetic stimulation, rTMS).
Stimulating the brain using simultaneously behavioral tasks and magnetic field to improve cognitive, motor, and psychiatric problems is currently a developing area. The novelty of our approach is exploiting time, rhythm, and music processing as a tool that activates impaired (targeted in rTMS) networks responsible for patients’ symptoms.
According to the Texas Brain Injury Alliance, 144,000 Texans sustain a traumatic brain injury each year - one every 4 minutes, and 381,000 Texans live with a disability due to head trauma. We need more knowledge about the long-term consequences of head injuries; patients need more effective therapy options; the community needs education about brain health and prevention. Fulfilling the needs of our community and improving the quality of life people at risk (veterans, women, minorities) is the ultimate goal of the BeCognitive Lab team.
- multimodal treatment for medication-resistant depression after mTBI,
- sensorimotor deficits after mTBI
The BeCognitive Lab is led by Dr. Anita Bialunska, neuropsychologist, Certified Brain Injury Specialist, and Assistant Professor with the Department of Rehabilitation Sciences.
Center for Interdisciplinary Health Research and Evaluation (CIHRE)
CIHRE serves as the College of Health Science’s interdisciplinary center of excellence for evaluation and training for the next generation of health researchers.
Clinical Applied Physiology (CAPh) Lab
Atherosclerosis is associated with 90% of cardiac diseases and stroke. The CAPh Lab studies the effects of common lifestyle interventions (e.g. exercise and nutritional supplements) in the cardiovascular system, more specifically in the pathophysiological interactions with atherosclerosis. The CAPh Lab uses a “reverse translational’ model, where results observed in clinical populations in vivo are transferred to in vitro systems to study the molecular adaptations. Currently, the CAPh Lab is working on a 3D bio-printing model of the carotid artery to establish the best exercise-induced blood flow patterns to prevent and treat stroke.
One of the goals of the CAPh Lab is to improve the efficiency of cardiovascular rehabilitation programs. This is significantly relevant when patients in all 50 states can have direct access to physical therapists. Improving efficiency of cardiovascular rehabilitation programs would increase access and compliance. In addition, the CAPh Lab is looking into “community-based’ cardiac rehabilitation programs in the next several years.
The Concussion Management Clinical Research Laboratory (CMCRL)
The Concussion Management Clinical Research Laboratory (CMCRL) occupies a 1,000 ft² space that is part of the UTEP Speech, Hearing and Language Clinic, located in the Campbell Building. Post-doctoral research fellows, student research assistants, and participating interdisciplinary faculty collect and analyze data related to cognitive-linguistic function, and demonstrate their expertise by providing information regarding signs and symptoms of concussion, management of post-concussion recovery, and legislation regarding concussion. The CMCRL has been involved with community outreach by providing information sessions to coaches, Athletic Trainers, school nurses, and parents of student athletes regarding concussion awareness. The CMCRL is currently conducting research projects related to sports-related concussions by utilizing cognitive testing instruments (ImPact™) and providing recommendations for safe return to play. The clinical research laboratory conducts baseline testing and post-concussion assessments to analyze a spectrum of cognitive functions in individuals before and after sustaining an injury. The clinical research laboratory is led by Dr. Bess Sirmon-Taylor, Associate Dean for Academic Affairs and Associate Professor of Speech-Language Pathology.
The Experimental Foods Laboratory
The Experimental Foods Laboratory is located in a 392 square-foot space in the Health Sciences and Nursing Building, and is equipped with industrial cooking appliances and worktables. The laboratory is used for teaching and research activities.
Teaching related activities include healthy eating demonstration for students and community partners. Students enrolled in nutrition courses apply knowledge acquired in the classroom in the preparation of healthy recipes. Students apply learned concepts related to food handling, process and preparation of food; how and why ingredients or treatment influence quality of food and how these can improve food quality. Through these activities, students prepare healthy recipes while developing UTEP Edge skills: teamwork, critical thinking, problem solving, confidence, communication and social responsibility.
Research activities include the preparation of test diets for various studies related to metabolic disease, prepared by student research assistants working under the direction of CHS faculty. Future research directions include the development of low-cost and culturally appropriate foods for the prevention and treatment of metabolic diseases (e.g, type 2 diabetes). Newly developed foods will be analyzed in the College’s Nutrient Analysis Laboratory for macro-and micro-nutrient composition. Given the high prevalence of metabolic diseases in our region, the development of low cost and culturally appropriate foods can contribute to improve glycemic control and body weight. These foods can improve health status and quality of life of persons at risk for developing metabolic diseases.
Experimental Pain Research Laboratory
The Experimental Pain Research Lab is dedicated to the investigation, understanding and effects of the pain modulatory system and biopsychosocial factors in the development of musculoskeletal chronic pain. The lab utilizes the most current knowledge in the area of pain to educate future scientists and health professionals, and collaborates with scientists from several disciplines (Physical Therapy, Public Health, Rehabilitation Counseling, Pharmacy, and Neuroscience) to connect their expertise and increase understanding of the pain puzzle.
The Experimental Pain Research Lab is currently looking at:
- The relationship between central pain mechanisms and arterial blood pressure in patients with chronic pain
- Pain Sensitivity and Central Pain Mechanisms among Hispanic Americans and non-Hispanic Whites: The Role of Sociocultural Factors
- The relationship between social pain and discrimination with chronic pain
- Topical application of cannabidiol (CBD) oil versus placebo for reduction of unilateral osteo-arthritic knee pain among adult Hispanic patients
The Experimental Pain Research Lab is led by Dr. Carolina Valencia, director and clinical assistant professor for the Bachelor of Science in Rehabilitation Sciences Program.
The Human Immunology and Nutrition Research Laboratory (HINRL)
The Human Immunology and Nutrition Research Laboratory (HINRL) is located in a 3,000 ft2 space in the College of Health Sciences main building. The bench laboratory is equipped for the collection, handling and processing of blood samples and is equipped to perform both clinical chemistry and immunochemistry.
Infectious Diseases and Molecular Diagnostics Research Laboratory
The overarching focus of the laboratory is infectious diseases. Main areas of interest include molecular diagnostics (detection of pathogens and biomarkers of resistance), clinical microbiology (antimicrobial resistance) and microbial physiology (investigate the role of calcium (Ca 2+) in bacteria and its potential link to infection and pathogenesis). Research is conducted by an interdisciplinary team of several laboratories, with expertise in bioanalysis, bioengineering, microbiology, and analytical chemistry, to ensure successful outcomes.
The lab’s work on the study of calcium ions in multidrug resistant efflux pumps presents a promising new direction in the development of effective therapies. This work will advance our understanding of efflux pumps and Ca 2+ signaling in bacteria, contributing to potential new antimicrobial targets and to the design of alternative therapeutic approaches. The development of new diagnostics with the capability of rapidly detecting antimicrobial resistant bacteria is critical and urgently needed. Our studies on the design of different types of point of care devices that are low cost, portable and accurate, impact patient outcomes in terms of effective management. This type of testing is ideal for low resource settings. Our environmental studies on AR may lead to the development of new interventions to prevent the spread of AR and potential policies to protect our natural resources.
The Kinesiology Fitness Research Facility
The Kinesiology Fitness Research Facility is located in a 2,000 ft2 space of the Ross Moore building. The facility is fully equipped to conduct fitness and strength and conditioning programs, as well as research protocols. It is also home to the Physical Fitness in the Golden Age program.
The Metabolism, Nutrition, & Exercise Research (MiNER) Laboratory
The Metabolism, Nutrition, & Exercise Research (MiNER) Laboratory is located in a 2,900 ft2 space in the College of Health Sciences main building. The MiNER Laboratory is comprised of eight independent rooms and a bench laboratory area facilitating a research capacity that spans from large population descriptive surveys to very complex molecular and endocrinological mechanisms of disease. This research space is highly conducive and supportive of the interdisciplinary collaborative culture of the College of Health Sciences.
Minority Aids Research Center (MARC)
The Minority Aids Research Center (MARC) seeks to remove HIV/AIDS-related disparities and inequities among minority populations around the globe while simultaneously demonstrating research and teaching excellence through access and educational opportunity to the people of the El Paso region and beyond. MARC seeks to provide sustainable education in basic and applied health sciences, in combination with translational and clinical research. These efforts lead to behavioral and technological innovation that directly impact graduating health practitioners and biomedical professionals, while simultaneously reducing HIV/AIDS-related disparities and inequities among minority populations.
The Motor Control and Virtual Reality Research Laboratory
The Motor Control and Virtual Reality Research Laboratory is located in a 1,000 ft2 space in the College’s Campbell Building. This laboratory, the first of its kind in the far west Texas/El Paso region, is dedicated to understanding the cognitive as well as neuromuscular factors involved in human movement by developing and applying experimental and computational methods. We are interested in examining both basic science and clinically relevant research questions in human movement, specifically in upper limb coordination, fine motor control, executive planning and human-computer interaction among healthy adults and populations with movement disorders.
The Nutrient Analysis Laboratory
The Nutrient Analysis Laboratory is located in a 392 square-foot space in the Health Sciences and Nursing Building and is equipped for the analysis of macro- and micro-nutrient composition of food and biological samples.
The equipment includes a Pekin-Elmer AAnalyst 700 atomic absorption spectrometer with graphite furnace, Goldfish fat extractor, crude fiber apparatus, combination Kjeldahl digestion and distillation, Rapidstill Microdigestor, large muffle oven, lab oven, Sartorius GP5202 precision balance, Sartorius GP503 class II balance, OHAUS moisture balance, pH meter and other assorted small equipment
Stanley E. Fulton Gait Research & Movement Analysis Lab
The Stanley E. Fulton Gait Research & Movement Analysis Lab is located in a 2,000 ft2 space in the Larry K. Durham Building, with four additional rooms for subject interviews and preparation. Studies conducted in the lab are dedicated to understanding biomechanical and neuromuscular factors involved in human movement through experimental and computational methods.
Veterans VVell Being Laboratory
The Master of Rehabilitation Counseling Program's Veterans VVell Being Lab examines factors affecting happiness, well-being and quality of life in people with chronic conditions, specifically veterans with chronic conditions, through the lens of positive psychology.