CeRPAN Laboratories

photo of Dr. Rasmussen

Welcome to the Muscle Biology Lab

Research in Muscle Biology, Exercise Physiology, Nutrition, Sacropenia, Amino Acid and Protein Metabolism

Directed by Blake Rasmussen, PhD | Nutrition and Metabolism Biography
Location: 224 11th Street | Galveston, Texas 77550

Phone: (409) 747-1619
Fax: (409) 772-2577
Email:  blrasmus@utmb.edu

The Muscle Biology Laboratory

The Muscle Biology lab is on the 10th floor of the medical research building and is a component of the 5,000 sq. ft. of wet lab space for researchers from the Department of Nutrition & Metabolism and the Sealy Center on Aging. The inter-connecting labs allow for scientific collaboration among other researchers interested in muscle biology, metabolism and aging. Equipment in individual labs include a cell culture room, mass spectrometry lab, microscopy and immunohistochemistry room, RT-PCRs, western blotting and imaging, muscle physiology functional testing for mice, and animal facilities. An added benefit of the lab is the beautiful view of the Gulf of Mexico, Galveston Island, and Galveston Bay. In addition to wet lab space, the muscle biology lab also uses a newly built exercise training facility for performing clinical trials utilizing exercise interventions and the UTMB CTSA Clinical Research Center for performing metabolic studies and muscle biopsies.

Rehabilitation Sciences PhD Program

Graduate students in the Muscle Biology lab enroll in the UTMB Rehabilitation Sciences PhD program. The Rehabilitation Sciences program has four research focus areas including the Muscle Biology of Rehabilitation track. Dissertation work conducted with Dr. Rasmussen will focus on the use of nutrition and exercise as rehabilitation therapies to restore and improve muscle function. More information about the application process and curriculum can be found at the PhD Program Website.

Lab Facilities and Resources

Dr. Ted Graber working in the Muscle Biology Laboratory.

Muscle Biology Lab Photo Gallery
Amino Acid Sensing

A major focus of the lab is to identify how muscle cells sense an increase in amino acid availability leading to an activation of mTORC1 signaling, translation initiation and muscle protein synthesis. Older adults have a reduced muscle protein anabolic response following ingestion of protein or amino acids. Our goal is to identify why this phenomenon occurs during aging and to develop novel interventions to improve muscle quality and function in older adults.

Muscle Biology and Sarcopenia

The lab is interested in identifying mechanisms of muscle hypertrophy and atrophy with a focus on preventing muscle loss during aging. In addition to amino acid sensing, we are also examining how aging alters amino acid transport, mTORC1 signaling, insulin signaling, expression of growth and atrophy related genes, and the role of the lysosomal and autophagosomal systems in human skeletal muscle.

diagram of protein synthesis
Exercise Physiology and Sports Nutrition

Our lab performs acute and chronic exercise studies in young and older adults. These studies combine stable isotope infusions and muscle biopsies to examine how exercise alters cell signaling and gene expression associated with muscle growth and protein metabolism. We are also interested in sports nutrition. For example, we have recently examined how amino acid and protein supplementation following a single exercise session or following several months of exercise training impacts muscle protein turnover and metabolism, mTORC1 signaling, autophagy, hypertrophy and overall muscle function.

photo of muscle fibers
  1. Graber, T.G., C.S. Fry, C.R. Brightwell, T. Moro, R. Maroto, N. Bhattari, C. Porter, M. Wakamiya, and B.B. Rasmussen.  Skeletal muscle specific knockout of DEP domain-containing 5 increases mTORC1 signaling, muscle cell hypertrophy, and mitochondrial respiration. Journal of Biological Chemistry, In Press, 2019.
  2. Lavin, K.L., B.M. Roberts, C.S. Fry, T. Moro, B.B. Rasmussen, and M.M. Bamman. The importance of resistance exercise training to combat neuromuscular aging.  Physiology (Bethesda), In Press, 2019.
  3. Markofski, M.M., K. Jennings, K.L. Timmerman, J.M. Dickinson, C.S. Fry, M.S. Borack, P.T. Reidy, R.R. Deer, A. Randolph, B.B. Rasmussen, and E. Volpi. Effect of aerobic exercise training and essential amino acid supplementation for 24 weeks on physical function and muscle metabolism in healthy, independent older adults: a randomized clinical trial. Journal of Gerontology: Medical Sciences, In Press, 2019.
  4. Moro, T., C.R. Brightwell, R.R. Deer, T.G. Graber, E. Galvan, C.S. Fry, E. Volpi, and B.B. Rasmussen. Muscle protein anabolic resistance to essential amino acids does not occur in healthy older adults before or after resistance exercise training. Journal of Nutrition 148(6): 900-909, 2018.
  5. Graber, T.G., B.L. Rawls, B. Tian, W.J. Durham, C.R. Brightwell, A.R. Brasier, B.B. Rasmussen, and C.S. Fry. Repetitive TLR-3 activation in the lung induces skeletal muscle adaptations and cachexia.  Experimental Gerontology 106: 88-100, 2018.
  6. Reidy, P.T., C.S. Fry, J.M. Dickinson, M.J. Drummond, and B.B. Rasmussen. Postexercise essential amino acid supplementation amplifies skeletal muscle satellite cell proliferation in older men 24 hours postexercise.  Physiological Reports  5(11): e13269, 2017.
  7. Graber, T.G., M.S. Borack, P.T. Reidy, E. Volpi, and B.B. Rasmussen.  Essential amino acid ingestion alters expression of genes associated with amino acid sensing, transport, and mTORC1 regulation in human skeletal muscle. Nutrition & Metabolism 14:35, 2017.
  8. Reidy, P.T., C.S. Fry, S. Igbinigie, R.R. Deer, K. Jennings, M.B. Cope, R. Mukerjea, E. Volpi, and B.B. Rasmussen.  Protein supplementation does not affect myogenic adaptations to resistance training.  Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise  49(6): 1197-1208, 2017.
  9. Reidy, P.T., M.S. Borack, M.M. Markofski, J.M. Dickinson, C.S. Fry, R.R. Deer, E. Volpi, and B.B. Rasmussen.  Post-absorptive muscle protein turnover affects resistance training hypertrophy.  European Journal of Applied Physiology  117(5): 853-866, 2017.

10. Dickinson, J.M., P.T. Reidy, D.M. Gundermann, M.S. Borack, D.K. Walker, A.C. D’Lugos, E. Volpi, and B.B. Rasmussen. The impact of post exercise essential amino acid ingestion on the ubituitin proteasome and autophagosomal-lysosomal systems in skeletal muscle of older men. Journal of Applied Physiology  122(3): 620-630, 2017.

11. Borack, M.S., P.T. Reidy, S.H. Husaini, M.M. Markofski, R.R. Deer, A.B. Richison, B.S. Lambert, M.B. Cope, R. Mukherjea, K. Jennings, E. Volpi, and B.B. Rasmussen.  Soy-dairy protein blend or whey protein isolate ingestion induces similar post-exercise muscle mechanistic target of rapamycin complex 1 signaling and protein synthesis responses in older men. Journal of Nutrition 146: 2468-75, 2016.

12. Reidy P.T., and B.B. Rasmussen.  Role of ingested amino acids/protein in the promotion of resistance exercise-induced muscle protein anabolism. Journal of Nutrition 146(2): 155-183, 2016.

13. Moro, T., S.M. Ebert, C.M. Adams, and B.B. Rasmussen. Amino acid sensing in skeletal muscle. Trends in Endocrinology & Metabolism  27(11): 796-806, 2016.

14. Reidy, P.T., M.S. Borack, M.M. Markofski, J.M. Dickinson, R.R. Deer, S.H. Husaini, D.K. Walker, S. Igbinigie, S.M. Robertson, M.B. Cope, R. Mukerjea, J.M. Hall-Porter, K. Jennings, E. Volpi, and B.B. Rasmussen.  Protein supplementation has minimal effects on muscle adaptations during resistance exercise training in young men: a double-blind randomized trial.  Journal of Nutrition 146: 1660-1669, 2016.

15. Porter, C., P.T. Reidy, N. Bhattarai, L.S. Sidossis, and B.B. Rasmussen.  Resistance exercise training alters mitochondrial function in human skeletal muscle.  Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise  47(9): 1922–1931, 2015.

16. Dickinson, J.M., D.M. Gundermann, D.K. Walker, P.T. Reidy, M.S. Borack, M.J. Drummond, M. Arora, E. Volpi, and B.B. Rasmussen.  Leucine-enriched amino acid ingestion after resistance exercise prolongs myofibrillar protein synthesis and amino acid transporter expression in older men.  Journal of Nutrition  144: 1694-1702, 2014.

17. Walker, D.K., M.J. Drummond, J.M. Dickinson, M. Borack, K. Jennings, E. Volpi, and B.B. Rasmussen. Insulin increases mRNA abundance of the amino acid transporter SLCA5/LAT1 via an mTORC1 dependent mechanism in skeletal muscle cells.  Physiological Reports 2(3): e00238, 2014.

18. Reidy, P.T., D.K. Walker, J.M. Dickinson, D.M. Gundermann, M.J. Drummond, K.L. Timmerman, M.B. Cope, R. Mukherjea, K. Jennings, E. Volpi, and B.B. Rasmussen.  Soy-dairy protein blend and whey protein ingestion after resistance exercise increases amino acid transport and transporter expression in human skeletal muscle.  Journal of Applied Physiology  116: 1353-1364, 2014.

19. Glynn, E.L., C.S. Fry, K.L. Timmerman, M.J. Drummond, E. Volpi, and B.B. Rasmussen.  Addition of carbohydrate or alanine to an essential amino acid mixture does not enhance human skeletal muscle protein anabolism.  Journal of Nutrition 143:307-314, 2013.

20. Dickinson, J.M., M.J. Drummond, J.R. Coben, E. Volpi, and B.B. Rasmussen.  Aging differentially affects human skeletal muscle amino acid transporter expression when essential amino acids are ingested after exercise.  Clinical Nutrition. 32(2): 273-80, 2013.

21. Reidy, P.T, D.K. Walker, J.M. Dickinson, D.M. Gundermann, M.J. Drummond, K.L. Timmerman, C.S. Fry, M.S. Borack, M.B. Cope, R. Mukherjea, K. Jennings, E. Volpi, and B.B. Rasmussen. Protein blend ingestion following resistance exercise promotes human muscle protein synthesis. Journal of Nutrition 143: 410-416, 2013.

22. Walker, D.K., C.S. Fry, M.J. Drummond, J.M. Dickinson, K.L. Timmerman, D.M. Gundermann, E. Volpi, and B.B. Rasmussen.  Pax7+ satellite cells in young and older adults following resistance exercise.  Muscle & Nerve 46: 51-59, 2012.

23. Fry, C.S., M.J. Drummond, H. L. Lujan, S.E. DiCarlo, and B.B. Rasmussen.  Paraplegia increases skeletal muscle autophagy.  Muscle & Nerve 46: 793-798, 2012.

24. Dickinson, J.M., M.J. Drummond, C.S. Fry, D.M. Gundermann, D.K. Walker, K.L. Timmerman, E. Volpi, and B.B. Rasmussen.  Rapamycin does not affect post-absorptive protein metabolism in human skeletal muscle.  Metabolism 62:144-151, 2012.

25. Fry C.S., M.J. Drummond, E.L. Glynn, J.M. Dickinson, D.M. Gundermann, K.L. Timmerman, D.K. Walker, S. Dhanani, E. Volpi, and B.B. Rasmussen.  Aging impairs contraction-induced human skeletal muscle mTORC1 signaling and protein synthesis.  Skeletal Muscle  1:11, 2011.

26. Dickinson, J.M., C.S. Fry, M.J. Drummond, D.M. Gundermann, D.K. Walker, E.L. Glynn, K.L. Timmerman, S. Dhanani, E. Volpi, and B.B. Rasmussen. Mammalian target of rapamycin complex 1 activation is required for the stimulation of human skeletal muscle protein synthesis by essential amino acids. Journal of Nutrition  141: 856-862 2011.

27. Drummond M.J., E.L. Glynn, C.S. Fry, K.L. Timmerman, E. Volpi, and B.B. Rasmussen.  An increase in essential amino acid availability upregulates amino acid transporter expression in human skeletal muscle. American Journal of Physiology: Endocrinology & Metabolism, 298: E1011-E1018, 2010.

28. Drummond M.J., C.S. Fry, E.L. Glynn, H.C. Dreyer, S. Dhanani, K.L. Timmerman, E. Volpi, and B.B. Rasmussen.  Rapamycin administration in humans blocks the contraction-induced increase in skeletal muscle protein synthesis.  Journal of Physiology, 587(7): 1535–1546, 2009.

Complete Publication List

Muscle Biology Lab Members

Muscle Biology Lab Members

  • Dr. Blake Rasmussen

    photo of Dr. Rasmussen
    Nutrition and Metabolism

    Principal Investigator

Muscle Biology Lab Members

  • Dr. Ted Graber

    photo of Dr. Graber
    University of Minnesota

    Postdoctoral Fellow

Muscle Biology Lab Members

  • Dr. Tatiana Moro

    photo of Dr. Moro
    University of Padua, Italy

    Postdoctoral Fellow

Muscle Biology Lab Members

  • Camille Brightwell

    photo Ms. Brightwell

    PhD Student

Muscle Biology Lab Alumni
PhD Students
Postdoctoral Fellows