Department of Health Sciences and Nursing
Assistant Professor Beth Parker’s teaching areas include an advanced undergraduate course in cardiovascular diseases. The focus is on disease prevalence, mechanisms underlying disease and common treatments as a basis for understanding chronic diseases prevalent in patients treated by health care professionals. Discussions and research focusing on emerging medical therapies, controversial practices, and disease prevention help students think critically about our ability to counter the epidemic of cardiovascular disease. She also teaches a Special Topics course covering the US Healthcare system and proposed reforms, focusing on major political, social and economic programs and debates associated with this unique and complex system. Other courses taught include introductory health science courses and an education course for clinical health professionals.
Parker is the Director of the Center for Health, Care and Well-Being in the Institute for Translational Research as well as the Director of Exercise Physiology Research at Hartford Hospital. Her research focuses on age and sex differences in vascular function and cardiovascular responses to exercise. She currently has research support to investigate the effects of factors such as smoking, testicular cancer, exercise and aging on vascular function. She also is a principal or co-investigator on several NIH-funded projects involving the pleiotropic effects of statin therapy (cholesterol-lowering drugs) in humans. These projects include investigation of the direct effects of statins on skeletal muscle strength and aerobic performance, the effects of Coenzyme Q10 supplementation on skeletal muscle side effects, and cognitive side effects of statins assessed with functional magnetic resonance imaging.
An avid runner herself, Parker has conducted recent studies at the Boston Marathon to determine the effects of sustained endurance exercise on blood clot risk, markers of cardiovascular injury and stress, and the effects of cholesterol-lowering drugs on these biomarkers. She also maintains a blog dedicated to updates and insights on health and wellness.