Craig A. Emter, Ph.D.

  • Associate Professor
  • PhD: University of Colorado, Boulder
  • Postdoctoral Training: University of Missouri- Columbia
  • Email:
  • Phone: 573-882-4138 (office); 573-884-4259 (lab)

Emter Lab2_upload

Pictured from left to right: Evan Hayes (Veterinary Student), Dr. Craig Emter, Jessica Hiemstra (PhD student), Jan Ivey (Cath Lab manager), Pam Thorne (Lab manager), Jenna Edwards (PhD student), T. Dylan Olver (Postdoctoral Fellow). Not pictured: Whitney Davis (Veterinary Student), Emily Dehn (Undergraduate student)

Understanding the impact of novel pharmaceutical and exercise therapeutics on the heart failure syndrome.

The primary focus of my research is to understand the impact of novel pharmaceutical and exercise therapeutics on the myocardium and coronary arteries of the failing heart. Specifically, a primary goal of my lab is to elucidate new ways to treat heart failure with preserved ejection fraction (HFpEF), a disease largely unresponsive to current standardized heart failure therapies. I believe that by determining the intensity and frequency of exercise that provides benefits to heart failure patients and the cellular mechanisms underlying those beneficial changes, the laboratory can generate translational windows into new therapeutic opportunities. A further goal of this research is to garner insight into better utilizing exercise as a therapeutic modality in a clinical setting of heart failure. My laboratory employs a multidisciplinary approach that integrates systemic physiologic measures with in vitro techniques to study the mechanisms and impact of exercise in heart failure including catheter techniques and ultrasound to measure cardiac and coronary vascular function in vivo and patch clamping, cannulated vessel preparations, histology, and biochemical assays. Future goals include incorporation of regenerative therapeutic strategies into our specific research goals to treat HFpEF, translation of our preclinical research models into medical practice with parallel clinical studies, and utilization of physiological inputs from our swine HFpEF models to augment computational modeling of heart failure.


1. Utilization of multiple translational models (swine) of heart failure with preserved ejection fraction (developed in my lab) for the identification of novel molecular mechanisms involved in the development of heart failure/cardiovascular disease and testing of novel therapeutic strategies in a clinically relevant large animal model. My laboratory has developed both Yucatan mini-pig and obese/diabetic Ossabaw swine models of heart failure with preserved ejection fraction to address these research goals.

2. Examination of coronary smooth muscle cell BKCa channels as a primary mechanism mediating impaired vascular/ventricular interactions in heart failure.

3. Examining the efficacy of a novel gene therapy (myocardial AAV transfection of non-endogenous p90 ribosomal S6 kinases [RSK3] binding domain protein) and mechanism (RSK3-muscle A-kinase anchoring protein [mAKAP] signalosome) for treating the development of heart failure with preserved ejection fraction.

4. Determining the efficacy of a bio-absorbable rhFSTL1*-containing collagen matrix (EpicaPatch), applied to the epicardium overlying the damaged myocardium in infarcted diabetic pigs.

5. Determining the efficacy of DPP-IV and phosphodiesterase inhibition on cardiac remodeling and hypertrophy in heart failure.

6. Determining the role of increased advanced glycation end product accumulation on increased coronary vascular stiffness and related myocardial oxygen supply/demand imbalance in the development of heart failure with preserved ejection fraction.

7. Determination of the molecular mechanisms by which exercise training prevents myocardial fibrosis in a setting of heart failure, including examination of existing and novel imaging techniques in the diagnosis of heart failure and quantification of myocardial fibrosis.

A full list of publications can be found here:

T. Dylan Olver, Jenna C. Edwards, Thomas J. Jurrissen, Adam B. Veteto, John L. Jones, Chen GaoChristoph Rau, Chad M. Warren, Paula J. Klutho, Linda Alex, Stephanie C. Ferreira-Nichols, Jan R. Ivey, Pamela K. Thorne, Kerry S. McDonald, Maike Krenz, Christopher P. Baines, R. John Solaro, Yibin Wang, David A. Ford, Timothy L. Domeier, Jaume Padilla, R. Scott Recto, and Craig A. Emter.  Western Diet-fed, Aortic-Banded Ossabaw Swine: A Pre-Clinical Model of Cardio-Metabolic Heart Failure. JACC – Basic to Translational Science, accepted February 2019.

Lauren Walsh, Thaysa Ghiarone, T. Dylan Olver, Areli Medina-Hernandez, Jenna C. Edwards, Pamela K. Thorne, Craig Emter, Jonathan R. Lindner, Camila Manrique-Acevedo, Luis Martinez-Lemus, and Jaume Padilla. Increased endothelial shear stress improves insulin-stimulated vasodilation in skeletal muscle. The Journal of Physiology, 2019 Jan;597(1):57-69. doi: 10.1113/JP277050.

Bradley S. Fleenor, An Ouyang, T. Dylan Olver, Jessica A. Hiemstra, Melissa S. Cobb, Gianmaria Minervini, and Craig A. Emter. Saxagliptin Prevents Increased Coronary Vascular Stiffness in Aortic-Banded Mini-Swine.  Hypertension. 2018 Aug;72(2):466-475. doi: 10.1161/HYPERTENSIONAHA.118.10993.

Alwan G, Manring ND, Emter CA, Delafontaine P, Leary E. Studying the Sensitivity of Coronary Blood Flow Using Nondimensional Analysis.  Conference Proceedings of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers – Engineering in Medicine and Biology Society. 2018 Jul;2018:2349-2353. doi: 10.1109/EMBC.2018.8512777.

Olver TD, Edwards JC, Ferguson BS, Hiemstra JA, Thorne PK, Hill MA, Laughlin MH, Emter CA. Chronic Interval Exercise Training Prevents BKCa-channel Mediated Coronary Vascular Dysfunction in Aortic-Banded Mini-Swine. Journal of Applied Physiology, 2018 Mar 29. doi: 10.1152/japplphysiol.01138.2017. Epub ahead of print.

Jessica A. Hiemstra, Adam B. Veteto, Michelle D. Lambert, T. Dylan Olver, Brian S. Ferguson, Kerry S. McDonald, Craig A. Emter, and Timothy L. Domeier. Chronic low-intensity exercise attenuates cardiomyocyte contractile dysfunction and impaired adrenergic responsiveness in aortic-banded mini-swine. Journal of Applied Physiology, 2018 Apr 1;124(4):1034-1044        doi: 10.1152/japplphysiol.00840.2017.

Thomas Jurrissen, T. Olver, Nathan Winn, Zachary Grunewald, Gabriela Lin, Jessica Hiemstra, Jenna Edwards, Michelle Gastecki, Rebecca Welly, Craig Emter, Victoria Vieira-Potter, Jaume Padilla. Endothelial dysfunction occurs independently of adipose tissue inflammation and insulin resistance in ovariectomized Yucatan miniature-swine. Adipocyte, 2018 Jan 2;7(1):35-44. doi: 10.1080/21623945.2017.1405191.

Olver TD, Grunewald ZI, Jurrissen TJ, MacPherson RE, LeBlanc PJ, Schnurbusch TR, Czajkowski AM, Laughlin MH, Rector RS, Bender SB, Walters EM, Emter CA, Padilla J. Microvascular insulin resistance in skeletal muscle and brain occurs early in the development of juvenile obesity in pigs. American Journal of Physiology – Regulatory, Integrative and Comparative Physiology, 2018 Feb 1;314(2):R252-R264. doi:10.1152/ajpregu.00213.2017.

Kelly Lum-Naihe, Ryan Toedebusch, Abuzar Mahmood, Jamal Bajwa, Terry Carmack, Senthil A. Kumar, Sivakumar Ardhanari, Vincent G. DeMarco, Craig A. Emter, & Lakshmi Pulakat. Cardiovascular disease progression in female Zucker Diabetic Fatty rats occurs via unique mechanisms compared to males. Scientific Reports, 2017 Dec 7:17823. doi:10.1038/s41598-017-18003-8

Dylan Olver, Jessica A. Hiemstra, Jenna C. Edwards, Todd R. Schachtman, Cheryl M. Heesch, Paul J. Fadel, M. Harold Laughlin, and Craig A. Emter. The loss of female sex hormones exacerbates cerebrovascular and cognitive dysfunction in aortic-banded mini-swine through a NPY-BKCa-NO mediated mechanism. Journal of the American Heart Association, 2017 Oct 31;6(11). pii: e007409. doi: 10.1161/JAHA.117.007409.

Hanft LM, Emter CA, McDonald KS. Cardiac myofibrillar contractile properties during the progression from hypertension to decompensated heart failure. American Journal of Physiology – Heart and Circulatory Physiology, 2017 Jul 1; 313(1): H103-H113. doi: 10.1152/ajpheart.00069.2017.

Olver TD, McDonald MW, Klakotskaia D, Richardson RA, Jasperse JL, Melling CW, Schachtman TR, Yang HT, Emter CA, Laughlin MH. A chronic physical activity treatment in obese rats normalizes the contributions of ET-1 and NO to insulin-mediated posterior cerebral artery vasodilation. Journal of Applied Physiology, 2017 Apr 1; 122(4): 1040-1050.
doi: 10.1152/japplphysiol.00811.2016.

Dylan Olver, Jessica A. Hiemstra, Jenna C. Edwards, Brian S. Ferguson, M. Harold Laughlin, and Craig A. Emter. The protective role of sex hormones in females and exercise prehabilitation in males on sternotomy-induced cranial hypoperfusion in aortic-banded mini-swine. Journal of Applied Physiology, 2017 Mar 1;122(3):423-429.
doi: 10.1152/japplphysiol.00817.2016.

Dylan Olver, Diana Klakotskaia, Brian S. Ferguson, Jessica A. Hiemstra, Todd R. Schachtman, M. Harold Laughlin, and Craig A. Emter. Carotid artery vascular mechanics serve as biomarkers of cognitive dysfunction in aortic-banded mini-swine that can be treated with an exercise intervention. Journal of the American Heart Association, 2016; 5: e003248 doi:10.1161/JAHA.116.003248

Jessica A. Hiemstra, Dong I. Lee, Khalid Chakir, Manuel Gutiérrez-Aguilar, Kurt D. Marshall, Pamela J. Zgoda, Noelany Cruz Rivera, Daniel G. Dozier, Brian S. Ferguson, Denise M. Heublein, John C. Burnett, Carolin Scherf, Jan R. Ivey, Gianmaria Minervini, Kerry S. McDonald, Christopher P. Baines, Maike Krenz, Timothy L. Domeier, and Craig A. Emter. Saxagliptin and Tadalafil Differentially Alter cGMP Signaling and Left Ventricular Function in Aortic-Banded Mini-Swine. Journal of the American Heart Association, 2016; 5: e003277 doi:10.1161/JAHA.116.003277

Kapiloff MS and Emter CA. The cardiac enigma: current conundrums in heart failure researchF1000Research 2016, 5(F1000 Faculty Rev):72 (doi: 10.12688/f1000research.7278.1)

Kerry S. McDonald and Craig A. Emter. Exploring New Concepts in the Management of Heart Failure with Preserved Ejection Fraction: Is Exercise the Key for Improving Treatment? Journal of Applied Physiology, July 2015. DOI:10.1152/japplphysiol.00570.2015.

Jessica A. Hiemstra, Manuel Gutiérrez-Aguilar, Kurt D. Marshall, Kyle S. McCommis, Pamela J. Zgoda, Noelany Cruz-Rivera, Nathan T. Jenkins, Maike Krenz, Timothy L. Domeier, Christopher P. Baines, & Craig A. Emter. A New Twist on an Old Idea Part 2: Cyclosporine Preserves Normal Mitochondrial but not Cardiomyocyte Function in Mini-Swine with Compensated Heart Failure. Physiol Rep, 2 (6), 2014, e12050, doi:14814/phy2.12050.

Jessica A. Hiemstra, Songtao Liu, Mark A. Ahlman, Karl H. Schuleri, Albert C. Lardo, PhD, Christopher P. Baines, Kevin C. Dellsperger, David A. Bluemke, and Craig A. Emter. A New Twist on an Old Idea: A 2-Dimensional Speckle Tracking Assessment of Cyclosporine as a Therapeutic Alternative for Heart Failure with Preserved Ejection Fraction. Physiol Rep, 1 (7), 2013, e00174, doi: 10.1002/phy2.174

Kurt D. Marshall, Brittany N. Muller, Maike Krenz, Laurin M Hanft, Kerry S. McDonald, Kevin C. Dellsperger, and Craig A. Emter. Heart Failure with Preserved Ejection Fraction: Chronic Low-Intensity Interval Exercise Training Preserves Myocardial O2 Balance and Diastolic Function. J Appl Physiol, 114: 131-147, 2013.

Emter CA, Tharp DL, Ivey JR, Ganjam VK, and Bowles DK. Low-Intensity Interval Exercise Training Attenuates Coronary Vascular Dysfunction and Preserves Ca2+-sensitive K+ Current in Miniature Swine with LV Hypertrophy. Am J Physiol Heart Circ Physiol, 301: H1687-H1694, 2011.

Emter CA and Baines, CP.  Low-Intensity Aerobic Interval Training Attenuates Pathological Left Ventricular Remodeling and Mitochondrial Dysfunction in Aortic-Banded Miniature Swine. Am J Physiol Heart Circ Physiol, 299: H1348-H1356, 2010.

Adam J. Chicco, Sylvia A. McCune, Craig A. Emter, Genevieve C. Sparagna, Meredith L. Rees, David A. Bolden, Kurt D. Marshall, Russell L. Moore. Low-Intensity Exercise Training Delays Heart Failure and Improves Survival in Female Hypertensive Heart Failure Rats.  Hypertension, 51: 1096-1102, 2008.

Emter CA, McCune SA, Sparagna GC, Radin MJ, and Moore RL. Low-Intensity Exercise Training Delays the Onset of Decompensated Heart Failure in the Spontaneously Hypertensive Heart Failure (SHHF) Rat. Am J Physiol Heart Circ Physiol289: H2030-H2038, 2005.