The primary research focus of Jill N. Barnes, Ph.D., is to understand the effect of aging on blood flow regulation in humans and how this relates to the risk of cardiovascular disease and dementia.

Dr. Barnes is specifically interested in how age-associated changes in the structure and function of blood vessels and sympathetic nervous system activity influence the control of blood flow to the brain. In addition, her research focuses on how lifestyle modifications may prevent, and how chronic diseases accelerate, these negative consequences of aging on brain blood flow regulation.

Focus areas

  • Identifying vascular control mechanisms underlying the aging-associated changes in cerebral blood flow regulation. These mechanisms include alterations in prostaglandin signaling cascades and increases in arterial stiffness.
  • Understanding how cerebral blood flow regulation differs between men and women and how this varies throughout the lifespan. Specifically, we want to understand how men and women adapt to transient changes in blood flow to the brain.
  • Determining how neurovascular control of blood pressure is affected by aging and changes in sex hormones, particularly focusing on the autonomic control of blood pressure in women.
  • Establishing whether neurovascular control of blood pressure and blood flow are affected by autoimmune diseases, specifically in systemic lupus erythematosus patients, and how lifestyle and/or pharmacological interventions alter this neurovascular control.

Significance to patient care

Successful aging is living without chronic, debilitating diseases and conditions that are typically associated with advancing age (coronary heart disease, diabetes, dementia, etc.). With an expanding aging population, identifying at risk individuals is key to prevention and promotion of successful aging. Dr. Barnes' research investigates potential risk factors for both cardiovascular disease and dementia. In addition, her studies will help identify therapeutic strategies that prevent or delay the onset of disease that will ultimately improve the quality of life in aging populations.

Professional highlights

  • Edward C. Kendall Research Award, Mayo Clinic Alumni Association, 2014
  • New Investigator Award, American Physiological Society, 2014
  • NSBRI Gravitational Beginning Investigator Award, American Physiological Society, 2013
  • Ruth L. Kirschstien National Research Service Award Individual Postdoctoral Fellowship Award (F32), National Institute of Aging, National Institutes of Health, 2011-2013
  • University Endowed Fellowship, The University of Texas at Austin Graduate School, 2007-2009



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