Research projects

Current research projects

Central and peripheral regulation of blood flow in response to exercise in individuals with Down syndrome
Funded by the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Development (NICHD grant #: 4R00HD092606)

Status: in preparation, inclusion of participants expected to start early 2020.
This research project focuses on central and peripheral regulation of blood flow in individuals with Down syndrome (DS) as a contributing factor to fatigue and difficulties with exercise. Participants with Down syndrome will participate in a free, supervised, 12-wk exercise program focusing on strength, balance and aerobic capacity, or they will be part of the control group. They will periodically come in the lab for cardiovascular and fitness measurements. More information will be published here soon.

Healthy Aging and Intellectual Disabilities study
Funded by the Netherlands Organization for Health Research and Development (grant # 57000003 and # 314030302) 
Status: ongoing

This large epidemiological study in the Netherlands has been following 1050 older adults with intellectual disabilities since 2009, and it is the only study worldwide tracking a wide range of health measures including (cardiovascular) fitness, activity, nutrition, physical and mental health, morbidity and mortality in this particular population. Thessa Hilgenkamp has been involved in this study from the start, and is currently still involved as a co-investigator in the area of physical activity and fitness, including cardiovascular health and autonomic regulation.

Mechanisms of Low Physical Work Capacity, Fatigue, and Reduced Mobility in Multiple Sclerosis
Funded by the Department of Defense (grant # MS170080 / W81XWH-18-1-0466)
Status: recruiting (Chicago area)

Fatigue is a major issue for individuals with MS, and determining whether the regulation of blood flow is a contributor to fatigue is currently unknown. This work will provide insight into exercise’s disease and quality of life-modifying potential in MS. This research project is currently being executed at the Integrative University of Illinois at Chicago, directed by Prof. B. Fernhall as the Principal Investigator (University of Illinois at Chicago), and Thessa Hilgenkamp as a co-investigator.