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Growing muscle and staying injury free


10 May 2013


Dr Keith Baar, Head of the Functional Molecular Biology Laboratory (FMBL) in the Division of Molecular Physiology at the University of Dundee


Dr Keith Baar received his Bachelor’s in Kinesiology from the University of Michigan where he also served as an Assistant Strength and Conditioning Coach with the University of Michigan Football team. He then received a Master’s from the University of California, Berkeley while teaching strength and conditioning and his Ph.D from the University of Illinois in the laboratory of Dr. Karyn Esser. He did his postdoctoral studies on the molecular mechanism underlying the muscular adaptation to endurance exercise under the direction of Dr. John O. Holloszy at Washington Univ. in St. Louis. Keith is currently the head of the Functional Molecular Biology Laboratory (FMBL) in the Division of Molecular Physiology at the University of Dundee.

Over the last 15 years, Keith has worked with elite athletes, as the scientific advisor to Chelsea Football Club, USA Track and Field, Paris Saint-Germain Football Club, British Cycling, and The English Institute of Sport, as well as students and the public to promote activity and to maximize the effects of training for both endurance and strength. His research is focused on determining the molecular mechanisms underlying the physiological and functional adaptations of muscle to exercise. To delve deeper into the molecular mechanisms underlying the effects of exercise, Keith’s lab is currently engineering muscle tissue outside the body with a particular interest in applying this model towards understanding muscle physiology and function. His recent work has used this model to show that the physiologic differences between fast and slow muscles can be retained in muscles engineered in vitro and has also used machines to alter muscle phenotype using different patterns of electrical stimulation. He is now using these techniques to study the effect of genetic manipulation on muscle function in an attempt to identify genes that could be targeted to improve performance or treat obesity, diabetes, and frailty.

In the last 5 years, the Functional Molecular Biology lab has developed an engineered ligament that runs from bone to bone. These ligaments can be made from adult stem cells: so we can engineer ligaments from a patient’s own cells. We are beginning pre-clinical testing that we hope will lead to the development of ligaments for regenerative medicine.

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