The University of Massachusetts Amherst

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Sarah Witkowski

Assistant Professor

Our laboratory investigates circulating and resident cell types that have angiogenic potential including hematopoietic stem cells, monocytes, fibroblasts, and pericytes.

These cells communicate with other cell types and influence the cardiovascular environment through the production of cytokines and chemokines that are angiogenic and/or inflammatory. Physical activity is known to confer positive cardiovascular benefits and decrease cardiovascular disease risk. We aim to evaluate how physical activity modulates these cells and their angiogenic and inflammatory signal communication to better understand their contribution to cardiovascular health. Populations of interest are those at risk for cardiovascular disease such as menopausal women and patients with type 2 diabetes. Results from our work may provide novel targets and strategies to reduce the overall cardiovascular disease burden.

Learn more at the Molecular and Cardiovascular Physiology Laboratory website:

Academic Background

  • BS College of William and Mary, 1995
  • MS University of Delaware, 2000
  • PhD University of Maryland, 2008
  • Postdoctoral Training University of Maryland, 2010
Serviente C, Troy LM, de Jonge M, Shill DD, Jenkins NT, Witkowski S. Endothelial and inflammatory responses to acute exercise in perimenopausal and late postmenopausal women.Am J Physiol Regul Integr Comp Physiol. 2016 Nov 1;311(5):R841-R850.
Sen S, Witkowski S, Lagoy A, Islam, A. A six-week home exercise program improves endothelial function and CD34+ circulating progenitor cells in patients with pre-diabetes. Journal of Endocrinology and Metabolism. 2015 Apr;5(1-2):163-171.
LaBarbera KE, Hyldahl RD, O’Fallon KS, Clarkson PM, Witkowski S. Pericyte NF-κB activation enhances endothelial cell proliferation and proangiogenic cytokine secretion in vitro. Physiological Reports. 2015 Apr;3(4). PMID:25911453.
Guhanarayan G, Jablonski J, Witkowski S. Circulating Angiogenic Cell Population Responses to 10 Days of Reduced Physical Activity. J Appl Physiol (1985). 2014 Jul 10. PMID:25012029.
Witkowski S, Jenkins NT, Hagberg JM. Enhancing treatment for cardiovascular disease: Exercise and circulating angiogenic cells. Exerc Sport Sci Rev. 2011 Apr;39(2):93-101. PMID: 21206284.
Lockard MM, Witkowski S, Jenkins NT, Spangenburg EE, Obisesan TO, Hagberg JM. The Effect of Thrombin on Putative Endothelial Progenitor Cells with Exercise and Exercise Training. J Appl Physiol. 2010 Jun;108(6):1682-90. PMID: 20378705.
Witkowski S, Lockard MM, Jenkins NT, Obisesan TO, Spangenburg EE, Hagberg JM. Relationship between circulating progenitor cells, vascular function and oxidative stress with long term training and short term detraining in older men. Clin Sci (Lond). 2010 Feb;118(4):303-11. PMID: 19723023.
Jenkins NT, Witkowski S, Spangenburg EE, and Hagberg JM. Effects of acute and chronic endurance exercise on intracellular nitric oxide in putative endothelial progenitor cells: Role of NADPH oxidase. AJP Heart and Circulatory Physiology. 2009 Nov;297(5):H1798-805. PMID: 19717732.
Witkowski S and Hagberg JM. Progenitor Cells and Age: Can we Fight Aging with Exercise? J Appl Physiol. 102 (3): 834-835, 2007. PMID: 17204579.
Contact Info

Department of Kinesiology
106 Totman Building
30 Eastman Lane
Amherst, MA 01003
(413) 545-6102