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Heddwen Brooks

Heddwen Brooks
Past Chair, Graduate Program in Physiological Sciences

Research interests: Hypertension, Kidney Disease, Inflammation and Menopause, Sex Differences in Disease

Graduation Picture May 2015 Yang Gao, PhD and Austen Thompson, MS


Kidney and Diabetes Research in the Brooks Lab

Research Interests
Our laboratory studies how kidney disease and hypertension accelerates in menopause. Women are protected from high blood pressure and Kidney Disease, until menopause, but the aging and disease processes accelerate. In women after menopause, hypertension medications do not work as well as they do in men, and diabetes risk (metabolic syndrome) also increases, with an increase in insulin resistance. We are also interested in lithium-induced kidney disease (nephrogenic diabetes insipidus) and in the genetic disease of the kidney, polycystic kidney disease (PKD). 

Research Projects
1) Sex Differences in Hypertension and the Role of the Immune System We are studying how sex differences impact the onset of hypertension, focusing on the increased risk for high blood pressure that occurs as women age. Specifically we are identifying the role that estrogen plays on the immune system, examining how T cell populations are activated during hypertension and how this influences renal salt and water transport, and the regulation of extracellular fluid balance (blood pressure).

2) Vasopressin and Renal Cell Proliferation:  In Polycystic Kidney Disease (PKD)  and in lithium-induced nephrogenic diabetes insipidus (NDI), epithelial cells of the kidney proliferate and renal function is reduced. Vasopressin receptor pathways have been targeted as pharmacological interventions for PKD and they reduce cyst formation and proliferation. We are interested in the mechanisms that trigger collecting ducts to proliferate. We use in vivo and in vitro models to study renal cell proliferative pathways.


Lab Members

Megan Sylvester MD/PhD student Physiological Sciences

Josh Ulhorn, PhD Student, Physiological Sciences Graduate Interdisciplinary Program

Kristen Medina, Research Technician

Emma Louis, UA COM Physiology Undergraduate 

Mary Schnellmann, UA COM/COL Undergraduate


Recent Past Members:

Yang Gao, PhD 2015 Physiological Sciences, Postdoctoral Fellow University of Utah, Dr Don Kohan, Research Scientist, Toronto

Nathaniel Husband MS 2018 Physiological Sciences Graduate Interdisciplinary Program, now MD student University of Arizona College of Medicine

Caitlin Moffet, BEng 2019 UA BME Undergraduate Program, now MS student BME University of Arizona

Clayton Moralez, BS 2017, UA Physiology Undergraduate Program, STEP-UP Fellow, now MD student University of East Carolina 

Wendy Nunez, BS 2019, University of Arizona, WAESO Fellow, now research technician, UACOM Phoenix, Dr Taben Hale 

Dennis Pollow, PhD 2016 Physiiological Sciences, Postdoctoral Fellow, UCSD, Dr Meike Sander 2016-2018, now Ventana Medial Systems

Jill Romero-Aleshire MS, PharmD 2019 Assistant Scientific Investigator

Austen Thompson, MS 2015 Physiological Sciences, now, MD/PhD Student, University of Arizona College of Medicine


Program Affiliations:

  • Physiological Sciences
  • Biomedical Engineering

MRB Room 413

PO Box 245041
Tucson, AZ 85724

(520) 626-7702






Last updated 12 Mar 2020