Analia Loria Kinsey, PhD, is an associate professor in the UK College of Medicine Department of Pharmacology and Nutritional Sciences. She studies cardiovascular disease and strives to raise awareness about preventative measures and treatments by helping organize the college’s annual Healthy Hearts for Women Symposium. The next event will be in-person on Feb. 3, 2023.

In the following Q&A, she explains more about her cardiovascular research.

Q: How did you personally get involved in cardiovascular research and advocacy?

A: I am a cardiovascular physiologist by training. My interest in the study of sexual dimorphism on blood pressure regulation started during my PhD training. I started attending American Heart Association meetings on hypertension early on my career, and I was invited to participate in the Go Red for Women Symposium.

During those years, women’s inclusion in research and addressing sex as a biological variable in National Institutes of Health (NIH) grants became more prominent. When I moved to the University of Kentucky in 2013, we started with our annual symposium, “Healthy Hearts for Women,” in February 2014. Since then, we had a large number of top-notch researchers visiting UK.

Q: What are some of your current research projects/interests?

A: Adversity during childhood is an established independent risk factor for chronic disease. Abuse and neglect, combined with other types of environmental stressors in early childhood, are associated with greater chances of premature death in adulthood according to a study of more than 46,000 people by researchers at the NIH. Kentucky has the highest rates of deaths due to cardiovascular disease in women across the country and extremely alarming rates of drug overdose in the disadvantaged population in Appalachia. My lab investigates the long-term effects of these stressors during early life on cardiovascular disease risk using animal models.

Recently, we also started investigating the mental and physiological effects in the offspring from mothers exposed to opioids during pregnancy. The ultimate goal of my studies is to identify reversible pathways associated to the programming of the cardiometabolic function.

Q: Why did you want to become a scientist?

A: Scientists are trained to identify and solve problems, challenging their own ideas in the scientific community. Since my early career, I have been lucky to interact with a network of investigators that I stay in touch permanently. I have attended annual meetings and special topic conferences over the years. It is a big motivation learning from them, collaborating, and following up on the generation and progress of different projects. I look at my mentors and peers as models to conduct my own research and mentor my students.

Q: What advice do you have for future scientists?

A: Spend more time choosing the right project than worrying about learning new fancy techniques. Developing your critical thinking and common sense skills will provide you with better outcomes in the long term. Choose your mentors wisely, and always move on to a different environment when you are not happy. And never be ashamed of failing. You will come back stronger if you design the right backup plan.