Fall 2014 Newsletter | Biology | Marquette University



KERRY McDonald, PH.D.

Marquette University, Ph.D. 1992

Dr. Kerry McDonald
Dr. Kerry S. McDonald and Dr. Michael D. Delp (currently Dean & Professor, College of Human Sciences, Florida State University) work on quantifying skeletal muscle blood flow during exercise after hindlimb unloading in the laboratory of Dr. Robert H. Fitts in 1989.

In 1987, Dr. Kerry S. McDonald had to make a decision between football and science.  Kerry had completed 4 years of NAIA football where he was named to the 1985 & 1986 NAIA Academic All-America team and had received a B.A. degree in Biology; the choice was to start a career in football coaching or as a scientist.  He took a compromise and matriculated into the Department of Biology at Marquette University to work with Dr. Robert H. Fitts to study exercise physiology.  Soon after Dr. McDonald joined the MU Biology Department his “love affair” with muscle biology started.  In Dr. Fitts laboratory, Dr. McDonald studied how atrophy affected skeletal muscle blood flow and muscle fiber function.  Associated with these studies were assays to measure the power generating capacity of skeletal muscle fibers, a research area still addressed in Dr. McDonald’s laboratory.


Dr. McDonald

Dr. Kerry McDonald visiting with Dr. Robert H. Fitts at the 2000 Biophysical Society Meeting in New Orleans, LA.

After receiving a Ph.D. degree in Biology in 1992, Dr. McDonald took a post-doctoral position with Dr. Richard L. Moss in the Physiology Department at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.  From 1992-1997 Dr. McDonald undertook a series of studies that help define the length dependence of force activation in cardiac muscle cells.  This work resulted in 10 publications, some of which have been cited over 100 times.


In 1997, Dr. McDonald joined the faculty at the University of Missouri, Department of Physiology and his research focused on factors that regulate the power generating capacity in cardiac

myocytes.  He has retained an NIH R01 grant examining these properties for nearly 20 years and several of his findings (including those related to the steps in the cross-bridge cycle that limit power output and how covalent modulation of myofibrillar proteins controls power) have helped drive the field toward new targets for small molecule therapy to treat heart failure patients.


Dr. Kerry McDonald

Members of Dr. Kerry McDonald laboratory in 2003; Dr. F. Steven Korte, Product Specialist W.L. Gore & Associates, Inc. in Phoenix, AZ; Dr. Martin K Childers, Professor Rehabilitative Medicine University of Washington; Luciana Armilio, Pharmacist in Wichita, KS; Dr. Aaron C. Hinken, Scientist, Five Prime Therapeutics in San Francisco, CA, Dr. Darla Tharp, Research Scientist, University of Missouri, College of Veterinary Medicine,  Department of Biomedical Sciences; Sean Doke, Optics Product Line Manager at MidwayUSA in Columbia, MO; Dr. Todd J. Herron, Assistant Research Professor, University of Michigan, Department of Molecular & Integrative Physiology, Center for Arrhythmia Research.

Dr. McDonald is currently a Professor at in the Department of Medical Pharmacology and Physiology at the University of Missouri and has trained several graduate students that work in both academia and industry.  He served on the esteemed National Institutes of Health Cardiac, Contractility, Hypertrophy, and Failure study section from 2007-2014 and is currently leading a group of cardiac muscle biologists in a series of studies defining how cardiac myocyte function is altered during the progression of hypertensive and familial induced cardiac failure.


Dr. McDonald resides in Columbia, MO with his wife (Rosalie).  They have three children Colin, a medical student at the University of Missouri, School of Medicine; Kory, a junior at Columbia College where he plays soccer; and Kelly, a junior at Rock Bridge High School.  While Dr. McDonald choose a career in science over coaching he was still able to coach his children in youth soccer, basketball, baseball, and softball for nearly 15 years; but he still awaits calling his first play in football game from the coaching sidelines; but that will have to wait until a few more questions are answered about how healthy striated muscle generates power and how this process is altered in disease states.








Dr. McDonald Research
Dr. McDonald’s laboratory integrates an array of techniques to study heart function in health and disease at the organism, organ, single cell, and protein level.







Biological Sciences Department

Marquette University, Wehr Life Sciences
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Milwaukee, WI 53201-1881
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