SPOKANE, Wash. – A graduate student working in the research laboratory of a Washington State University exercise physiologist has been awarded a $28,300 grant from the American Physiological Society.
Heidi Medford was one of eight students selected to receive a Porter Physiology Development Fellowship. Competition was based on a research proposal, grades, community outreach and other factors, Medford said.
Medford is finishing her second year of study toward a Ph.D. in nutrition and exercise physiology. The APS grant will help fund her research proposal to investigate if exercise can reverse the adverse effects on the heart caused by consumption of the “Western diet” – high in saturated fat and sugar.
Medford was working on her bachelor’s degree in WSU’s Nutrition and Exercise Physiology program when she took an interest in the research lab of one of her professors and, as she puts, she “fell in love” with research.
She and her professor, Susan A. Marsh, co-authored a paper on Medford’s work as an undergraduate that was recently published in Life Sciences. They investigated whether chronic consumption of the Western diet would elevate levels of a certain protein associated with heart dysfunction.
“It didn’t show what we expected,” Medford said. “Although the effect on the type of protein interaction we look at wasn’t as drastic as we anticipated, it was clear that adverse metabolic processes were occurring.”
Medford ended up as a student at WSU Health Sciences in Spokane when her husband was assigned by the U.S. Air Force to Fairchild Air Force Base. They had been living in Massachusetts and the move to Spokane was a return to the Northwest for her. She spent her early childhood years in Vancouver, Wash., and then attended middle school and high school in Homestead, Fla.
The Porter Physiology Development Fellowship was started by St. Louis physician William T. Porter in 1920. Porter also was a professor at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis and he founded the American Journal of Physiology in 1898.