Dr. Kanatous

About Us

Meet the 2006 Polar Science Ice Team
In Antarctica

Dr. Kanatous
My research focuses on the adaptations of heart and skeletal muscles to different environmental stresses such as low oxygen levels (hypoxia) and exercise. One of my favorite areas of research has explored the physiological and metabolic adaptations of marine mammals to an aquatic lifestyle. Marine mammals are unique in that they are air-breathing organisms that routinely exercise while holding their breath but exhibit an extraordinary ability to prevent the harmful effects of hypoxia, and low blood flow (ischemia) associated with breath-hold diving. In contrast to terrestrial animals that function under hypoxic conditions but display the typical exercise response of increasing their breathing rate (ventilation) and heart’s (cardiac) output, marine mammals exercise under a different form of hypoxic stress. They stop breathing, reduce cardiac output and limit peripheral blood flow during diving. These animals function for the duration of a dive with a limited amount of oxygen in their bodies. Consequently, the amount of oxygen stored in their blood and muscles (i.e., total body oxygen stores) and the rate of oxygen use by tissues and organs are the primary factors controlling how long they can exercise and stay submerged during diving. We have found that marine mammals posses a number of physiological adaptations in their skeletal muscles that prevent the usual harmful effects of hypoxia in terrestrial animals and man. The present study is beginning to explore the genetic controls of these unique adaptations in seals and sea lions. Through the understanding of the physiology of animals that have successfully adapted to live and work under hypoxic conditions, we hope to discover new therapeutic approaches to aid humans with cardiac and lung (pulmonary) diseases.
Dr. Shane B. Kanatous

Principal, Investigator
Assistant Professor
Department of Biology at Colorado State University

Dr. Stephen J. Trumble

Assistant Professor, Biology
University of Michigan-Flint

Southwest Fisheries Science Center
NOAA National Marine Fisheries Service
Research Associate, the Institute of Marine Science,
University of California, Santa Cruz

Jay W. Davis

Resource Contaminants Specialist,
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
Lacey, Washington

Linnea Pearson

Colorado State University

© 2006 YES I Can! Science