I completed my Bachelor's and Master's degrees in Human Genetics in Saint-Petersburg State University, Russia. Following my degrees, I participated in international conferences, where I was exposed to opportunities for research in other countries. As my next career step, I have decided to continue my research career focusing on genetic research that may be directly applied to improving people’s lives.

Currently I am a PhD student in CRN for Advancing Exercise & Sports Science in Bond University and Australian Institute of Sport, PhD project on genetics of exercise induced injuries has been launched in October 2014.

The study ‘Genetics of exercise induced injuries in tendon and bone’ has an excellent combination of translational and academic research.

Interests: molecular biology, genetic polymorphisms and disease prognosis, genetics of sports.

Genetics of exercise induced injuries in tendon and bone

Aim of the study

The aim of this research study is to identify genetic polymorphisms that contribute to increased risk of, or protection from tendon and bone injuries sustained through participation in physical activity. This knowledge will be used to develop programs for the prevention of injury in sport and physical activity.

Study summary

Participation in physical activity has been shown to be extremely beneficial to health however; participation in both recreational and competitive sports increases the risk of acquiring injuries of both the soft tissues and bones. Sporting success at the international level is significantly impacted by loss of training and competition time through injury. Research that examines new approaches to reducing the number of days lost to training through injury or illness and research that examines mechanisms that have the potential to change injury or illness management are a priority for the Australian elite sport sector. Identification of factors predisposing athletes to injury will allow coaches to customise training loads for individuals, according to injury susceptibility. Clinicians will be able to administer preventative, evidence-based interventions to reduce the rate of athlete injury.

This research study will focus on the role of genetics in exercise-induced injuries. Understanding genetic risk of or protection from exercise-induced injuries of the tendon and bone will allow coaches, trainers, physicians and physical therapists to develop training programs that account for such conditions. This study aims to identify genetic polymorphisms (genetic variation resulting in different biochemical characteristics) that contribute to increased risk of, or protection from tendon and bone injuries sustained through participation in physical activity. The proposed study will provide world-first evidence regarding the association between genetic polymorphisms and susceptibility to exercise-induced bony stress injuries.

With advancements in molecular biology, the use of personalised medicine to prevent and treat exercise-related medical conditions will become a reality. Understanding genetic risk of or protection from exercise-induced injuries of the tendon and bone will allow coaches, trainers, physicians and physical therapists to develop training programs that account for such conditions. In addition, identification of genetic polymorphisms in relation to bone and tendon health may give rise to further research into potential causes, therapies, personalised training strategies and diagnostic tools in the field of bone and tendon injuries. 

As a proud recipient of a CRN scholarship I am currently a PhD me to embark on a Sport Science degree at Victoria University that culminated in First Class honours. Since then I have worked with a range of elite athletes, highlighted by recently assisting CRN partner, the Australian Institute of Sport, on a project that investigated the effect of dietary manipulation on performance in elite race walkers. My PhD thesis is titled “Physiological Determinants of Anaerobic Capacity” and I am currently recruiting for my second research project.

Away from the office I enjoy applying the principles i have learnt to become slightly less mediocre on the sporting field.

I am on twitter at @DArezzolo.

Physiological determinants of anaerobic capacity

Exercise performances are physiologically determined by the unique capacities and constraints the aerobic and anaerobic energy systems. The aerobic energy system is limited by the rate but not the amount of energy supply, and therefore is predominantly used during low intensity, long duration efforts that characterise endurance events. Conversely, the anaerobic energy system is limited by the amount, not the rate, of energy supply and meets the majority of metabolic demands during high intensity efforts. High intensity efforts are associated with sprint and power performance but may also define performance during endurance events (critical breakaways and sprint finishes) and team sports. Accordingly, anaerobic capacity that determines the amount of energy available to perform multiple or prolonged high intensity efforts is pivotal in a wide range of sports. Despite this importance, exercise research is dominated by the study of aerobic capacity. Specifically, over the last 15 years  there has been ~6 times the amount of published articles on aerobic capacity compared with anaerobic capacity. Difficulties in quantifying anaerobic capacity have contributed to this disparity and as a result there is limited  knowledge relating to the contribution and importance of anaerobic capacity for human performance.

The three complementary studies that will comprise the PhD thesis will explore the physiology of anaerobic capacity.  The first study quantified the reliability of anaerobic capacity using a standard criterion test: maximum accumulated oxygen deficit (MAOD).The second study (currently in progress) will determine the amount and rate of regression for a range of performance measures, including anaerobic capacity, during detraining in trained athletes. The third study will investigate the effects of an acute intervention on anaerobic capacity. These three studies will produce a thesis and series of publications that will have implications for a wide range of athletes and sport science practitioners.

I completed my Bachelor's degree at the Queensland University of Technology, Brisbane. During my Bachelor I had the opportunity to obtain a research assistant position at the Translational Research Institute, where I first became interested in an academic career. I studied my Honour's degree in biomedical science through QUT but based at QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute.

My research involvement so far has focused on the genetics and epigenetics of breast cancer however for my PhD, and as the next step in my career, I have chosen to study the molecular genetics that govern adaption to exercise training, in CRN for Advancing Exercise and Sports Science at Bond University. The study ‘Skeletal muscle adaptive response to training’ will give me the necessary tools to become a successful researcher.

I am an accredited exercise physiologist since 2007 and have been employed at the University of Sydney since 2009. My research and early teaching career focuses on applying exercise, such as resistance training, as a medical intervention for the prevention and treatment of chronic diseases for the elderly to modify, improve or prevent such conditions, as well as improve people’s quality of life and functional performance. 

I am currently a PhD candidate, with a scholarship in CRN in Advancing Exercise and Sports Science since 2013. My thesis is titled Heterogeneity of functional adaptations to strength training in older adults: The Influence of Genetic Variation, Physical Characteristics and Exercise Parameters.

Other relevant research achievements include:
  • Oral presenter at symposium in May 31st 2016 at American College of Sports Medicine annual meeting;
  • Resistance Training: Role in Prevention and treatment of Chronic Disease, and
  • Completion of my Master of Science; Exercise Rehabilitation (Distinction) at the University of Wollongong in 2008. Dissertation called “Evaluate the effectiveness of exercise therapy in adult non-specific chronic lower back pain, of motor control exercises activity specific and functional exercises”,
Other relevant employment include:
  • Postgraduate teaching fellow position in 2015 within Health Science Faculty at University of Sydney
  •  Employed as a research assistant at the University of Wollongong from 2005 to 2009 for multiple studies regarding exercise for people with chronic disease and the elderly
  • Employed as accredited exercise physiologist within the Wollongong area providing exercises for people with chronic disease (2007-2009)
  • Employed as casual tutor at the University of Wollongong Faculty of Health Science (2006-2008) for multiple health science subjects for exercises prescription.
My thesis:

Heterogeneity of functional adaptations to strength training in older adults: The Influence of Genetic Variation, Physical Characteristics and Exercise Parameters

AIM: Is two-fold. Firstly to identify genetic and phenotypic factors which explain the heterogeneity in physical functioning older adults with chronic disease. Secondly, to explore the extent to which such factors interact to predict functional adaptations to resistive exercise interventions in these cohorts.

IMPORTANT: For increasing our knowledge about the interaction of genetic and phenotypic profiles in relation to exercise adaptations in the domain of functional performance can be used to provide optimal exercise prescriptions necessary to produce and reach maximal functional performance improvements for older adults and to allow early characterisation of predicted low responders, who can then be targeted for augmented training techniques or auxiliary non-exercise interventions

METHOD; Includes phenotypical and genetic data from approximately 330 individuals pooled from four separate randomized controlled trials (RCTs) of progressive resistance training (PRT) performed at University of Sydney in older adults with chronic disease, ranging from 6 months to 12 months in duration. The individuals in these RCTs were selected for the presence of chronic diseases including type 2 diabetes (Great2Do trial), mild cognitive impairment (SMART study), knee osteoarthritis (THELO) and peripheral vascular disease (REPAIRIT).