Elisabeth Kilroy


  • B.S. Exercise Science, College of Charleston, 2014
  • Ph.D. in Biomedical Science, University of Maine, 2020


Watching the progression of my father’s and my brother’s muscular dystrophies made me curious about the intricacy of the neuromuscular system and human movement. I developed a desire to understand the spinal cord and the muscles innervated by the nerves within. The laboratory is my home and I have learned more than I could imagine during my three years in GSBSE. I have learned how to continually ask questions in ways that allow me to approach my dissertation topic with new perspectives. Most importantly, though, I have learned how to be systematic: how to break apart a question into its basic components in order to then piece together these answers in a way that allows the original question to be answered. I thank the faculty and students in GSBSE for creating the foundation I need to pursue a career in academic research.

Research Interests

Dissertation Projects My main dissertation project focuses on understanding how strength training impacts the progression Duchenne muscular dystrophy. The zebrafish model provides me with the ability to analyze the short- and long-term effects of strength training, including the muscle architecture (myofiber growth, myofiber detachments), neuronal innervation, the proteomic profile, satellite cell population, mitochondrial function, as well as changes in muscle strength and muscle function. Additionally, I am focusing on identifying the gene that is causing my dad and brother to have muscular dystrophy. Once the gene is identified, I will create a zebrafish model that harbors the exact same mutation and begin unraveling the mechanisms of the dystrophic phenotype.

Greg Cox Lab Rotation During my rotation in the Cox Lab, I was involved in two research projects. The objective of the first project was to examine the skeletal muscle mitochondria from the rostrocaudal muscular dystrophy (rmd) mouse model, which is the direct result of a loss-of-function mutation within the choline kinase beta gene (Chkb). The objective of the second project was to continue mapping the genomic location of an unknown mutation identified during a deviant search at Jackson Laboratory. Both of these projects allowed me to gain further experience in animal care and surgical techniques, as well as introduce me to new techniques, including mouse genotyping, muscle cell culture, and muscle and nerve histology.

Roger Sher Lab Rotation During my rotation in the Sher Lab, I focused on the effects of BMAA, an environmental toxin, on the development of ALS in zebrafish with and without a known familial ALS mutation. This project introduced me to the zebrafish as a model organism.

Clarissa Henry Lab Rotation During my rotation in the Henry Lab, I worked with several zebrafish models of secondary dystroglycanopathies, a unique family of muscular dystrophies, and characterized the therapeutic effects of NAD+ on the progression of the dystrophy. This project provided me the fundamentals of microinjections (morpholino and CRISPR), confocal microscopy, RNA extraction and qPCR analysis.

Selected Services

  • GSBSE Senator, Graduate Student Government (Fall 2016-Spring 2017)
  • Vice President, Graduate Student Government (Summer 2017-Present)
  • Graduate Student Representative, UMaine 21st President Search Committee

Selected Publications

  • Moorman DE, James MH, Kilroy EA, Aston-Jones G. (2017). Orexin/hypocretin-1 receptor antagonism reduces ethanol self-administration and reinstatement in highly- motivated rats. Brain Research, 1654 (Pt A), 34-42.
  • Goody MF, Carter EV, Kilroy EA, Maves L, Henry CA. (2017). ‘Muscling’ through life: integrating studies of muscular development, homeostasis, and disease in zebrafish. Current Topics in Developmental Biology, 124, 197-234.
  • Moorman DE, James MH, Kilroy EA, Aston-Jones G. (2016). Orexin/hypocretin neuron activation is correlated with alcohol seeking and preference in a topographically specific manner. European Journal of Neuroscience, 43(5), 710-720.
  • Kilroy EA, Crabtree OM, Crosby B, Parker A, Barfield WR (2016). The effect of single-leg stance on dancer and control group static balance. International Journal of Exercise Science, 9(2), 110-120.

Dissertation Mentor