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Luma Melo


Even though I graduated from Physics at the University of Sao Paulo in 2017, I quickly shifted my interests to medicine research, and completed my Masters in Biophysics at the same institution in 2017. After that, I pursued my PhD in the School of Public Health at Indiana University focusing my research in Toxicology, Liver Diseases, and Exercise. From the toxicology standpoint, my research has been devoted to understanding the mechanisms by which physical agents impact liver normal cellular and organ function.

I focus mainly on non-alcoholic liver diseases caused by diet or chemicals. I investigate how the feeding of a high fat diet results in changes in the expression of nuclear receptors that are involved in adaptive and adverse liver effects following xenobiotic exposure. Since high fat diets also modulate cellular and molecular pathways involved in inflammation, metabolism, oxidative phosphorylation, and cell growth, it helps us understand the role of hepatic steatosis and steatohepatitis on the sequelae of toxic and pathologic changes seen following xenobiotic exposure.

Our approach is from the whole body to the molecular level; with the ultimate endpoint being the development of scientifically based human risk assessment. I also investigate the mode-of-action liver tumors in rodents induced by organochlorine insecticides, such as toxaphene and dieldrin, and the interaction of environmental chemicals, such as flame retardants, with the progression of nonalcoholic fatty liver disease. In the area of exercise and disease, our pre‐clinical exercise study in rodents led me and Dr Amit Hagar to the development of a new rodent exercise method—the first method of rodent dosed exercise shown to not cause stress. I took the role of the mice trainer and meticulously trained mice to run in forced wheels without inflicting stress (as evidenced from their steady cortisol levels throughout the study). This study revealed for the first time the effect of aerobic exercise on intratumoral Treg recruitment. Additionally, I developed clinical trials that tested a new method to estimate aerobic fitness with new technology from Abbott Laboratories along with Dr Hagar.

The project involved planning a set of clinical trials in young non‐athletes females, recruiting subjects, and performing the trials. The trials made use of novel technology from Abbott Laboratories, together with our own inventions, to estimate aerobic fitness in submaximal scenarios.


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