Cardiovascular Research Laboratory (CRL)


The purpose of this project is to establish a cardiovascular research laboratory (CRL) in the department of biology at PVAMU. The CRL is a component of the Center for Microbial and Cardiovascular Research. The goal of the CRL is to provide graduate and undergraduate students the opportunity to learn laboratory techniques used in vascular biology research. Mastery of these techniques will provide a foundation which will allow PVAMU students the opportunity to: (1) develop hypothesis drive research protocols (2) apply critical thinking skills to biomedical research and (3) develop analytical skills for data acquisition.

Activity overview

The following pieces of equipment have been purchased with Title III funding and are currently being used by graduate and undergraduate students in the CRL:

  • Radnoti – 8 Vascular Reactivity Tissue Bath Chambers
  • Living Systems Micro-Vessel Tissue bath and Imaging System
  • Kent Scientific – CODA Indirect Blood Pressure (tail cuff) Monitor
  • Kent Scientific – Direct Blood Pressure Monitor System
  • Harvard Apparatus – Rodent Treadmill (2×5 Lanes)
  • Surgical Suite – Femoral Artery Catheterization


  • Breeding Colonies for the following rodent models have been established:

Spontaneously Hypertensive Rats (SHR- genetic animal model for hypertension)

Captopril Treated SHR

Sprague Dawley (Normotensive Control Model)


Problem(s) Addressed

In the past, the research capacity of the department of biology at PVAMU has been limited.

The establishment of the CRL has significantly enhanced the graduate and undergraduate research capacity of the department. The CRL has served as a teaching platform for the biology graduate program at PVAMU. Over the past 2 years, the CRL has been utilized as the vehicle to teach BIOL 5003 (Graduate Research). Graduate students enrolled in BIOL 5003 actively participate in conducting biomedical research. The specific aim of student’s research focuses on the combined effects of exercise and captopril treatment and its withdrawal of blood pressure and endothelial function in the SHR. Student responsibilities include:

  • General animal husbandry
  • Weekly body weight measurement
  • Administration of Captopril via drinking water at a dose of 1.84 mmol/L (100mg/kg/day)
  • Rodent treadmill conditioning 60cm/sec/60 minutes 3X per week
  • Indirect blood pressure( systolic/diastolic/MAP) measurement 2X per week via tail cuff plethysmography
  • Surgical implantation of a Femoral artery catheter for direct blood pressure measurement
  • Data collection/Statistical analysis
  • Weekly data discussion

Additionally, the CRL has enhanced the undergraduate research capacity of the department of biology at PVAMU. Over the past 2 years, Dr. Keaton (lead scientist of the CRL), has served as a mentor for the Louis Stokes Alliances for Minority Participation (LSAMP) Program. LSAMP fosters and supports undergraduate research. Undergraduate research conducted in the CRL has been presented at numerous local and national research symposiums. Ms. Woods, a junior biology major PVAMU, conducting research in the CRL was awarded 2nd place at the annual LSAMP Undergraduate Research Symposium (2012- Texas A&M University Corpus Christi).  Additionally, Dr. Keaton and Ms. Woods were invited to present their research at the 2012 Experimental Biology Conference, in San Diego, California.

Ms. Vernikka Woods (junior biology major PVAMU), presenting research conducted in the CRL at the 2012 Experimental Biology Conference, San Diego California.

student standing by poster

Specific Outcomes/Impact

Faculty members of the department of biology at PVAMU strongly believe that the establishment of the CRL funded by Title III has significantly increased the number of students participating in biomedical research in the department. It is anticipated that this substantial expansion of the research capacity will enable the department to recruit, retain and graduate more students majoring in biology at PVAMU. Further, the department develop a tool which will allow the department to do a longitudinal analysis to: (1) quantitate the percentage of students whom conducted research in the CRL sought additional education after obtaining a bachelor’s degree from PVAMU (2) determine the impact the CRL had in their decision to pursue a graduate degree in the biomedical sciences.



Alphonso Keaton, Ph.D

Associate Professor, Department of Biology, PVAMU, 936-261-3166