Shared space spurs collaboration

Curiosity is creating an audible buzz among students and faculty engaged in DMU’s increasingly robust research enterprise. This story is part of “Research Engines,” a series on the questions being asked and investigated by DMU researchers.


While DMU’s faculty and student researchers are a fairly collaborative bunch, three principal investigators (PIs) will take that approach to an even higher level with a new shared laboratory in Ryan Hall.

Re/Search Engines: the pursuit of new knowledge  at Des Moines University Sharing lab space made sense for the three assistant professors of physiology and pharmacology. As a collective, they will focus on integrative approaches to the study of cardiovascular and renal diseases. Sarah Clayton, Ph.D., is interested in studying how life experiences — such as chronic stress or exercise training — modulate cardiovascular disease risk. Francesca Di Sole, Ph.D., is focused on the mechanics of how the body’s salt and fluid handling regulates blood pressure. Noah Marcus, Ph.D., is investigating the relationships between cardiac and renal function, and reasons that dysfunction in one organ may precipitate dysfunction in the other.

Sarah Clayton, Ph.D., Noah Marcus, Ph.D., and Francesca Di Sole, Ph.D., are collaborating to plan a new shared lab as well as pursue potential research projects.
Sarah Clayton, Ph.D., Noah Marcus, Ph.D., and Francesca Di Sole, Ph.D., are collaborating to plan a new shared lab as well as pursue potential research projects.

“I think we’d collaborate even if we weren’t in a shared space,” Di Sole says.

DMU planned to create the laboratory before the three came on board — Clayton and Di Sole, in 2014; Marcus, in 2015 — but their research interests are helping drive its design.

“That’s been a great opportunity the University gave us,” says Di Sole. “We want to plan the space to be efficiently used for different applications.”

Adds Clayton, “We’re also being cognizant of the space’s ability to move into the future, so that it’s not so specific it can’t be used by other PIs.”

The lab’s design was carefully considered to achieve optimal bench configuration and equipment placement. Even smaller details, such as the footstools to accommodate the researchers’ varied heights, were part of the plan. Some of the space remains open to allow for increased flexibility in configuring larger equipment. Ensuring opportunities for students is a big priority.

“I wanted a position that provides a balance of research and teaching at the graduate level,” Marcus says. “DMU offered a nice fit.”

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