The Kavanagh laboratory research program centers on the determinants of successful aging, with nutrition and metabolism as a central focus. Her research has moved from a diabetes and cardiovascular disease focus to studying the broader context of aging biology.
The main areas of Dr. Kavanagh’s current research are to understand the “normal” physiological changes that occur with age and predispose to cardiometabolic disease. We have specific interest in cytosolic chaperones which promote protein integrity, and the interactions of obesity, skeletal muscle, microbiome, and intestinal function in the aging organism. We are also actively researching nutritional influences on obesity and glucose metabolism, looking particularly at the effects of different fat, simple carbohydrate and protein sources. We evaluate the microbiome and intestinal function under nutritional stress at different life-stages.
Her lab uses monkey and rodent models to answer important questions about health interventions in the older individual in a translational and welfare-oriented way. Currently Dr. Kavanagh also serves as the scientific director for the CTSI Nonhuman Primate Program at Wake Forest University and directs a T35 training program aimed to encourage young veterinarians into translational research careers.