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From Bench to Bedside

An exercise physiologist, Dr. Joseph Libonati makes the most of the translational possibilities between basic science and nursing.

Director of the Penn Nursing Laboratory of Innovative and Translational Nursing Research, Dr. Libonati is studying the role of exercise on stem cells in the heart with a R21 award from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. His research has shown in a mouse model that exercise can increase the engraftment – or retention – of stem cells in the heart, allowing the cells to better survive and multiply.

His NIH study will test whether exercise can “precondition” the heart after a heart attack to more effectively retain and multiply stem cells. If successful, the study could lead to nurses using exercise to optimize stem cell therapy in patients with cardiovascular disease.

“This research literally can go from bench to bedside,” says Dr. Libonati. “Nurses deal with real people, people with beating hearts, people with cardiac conditions. They see all this in action.  Research from a nursing perspective is not just cells in a Petri dish. You design an experiment to address a patient problem.”