Research Team

Lab Director


LaDora V. Thompson, PhD, is the Travis M. Roy Endowed Professor in Rehabilitation Sciences and Chair of the Department of Physical Therapy and Athletic Training at Boston University Sargent College. A physical therapist and muscle physiologist, Dr. Thompson is the director of the Skeletal Muscle Physiology Laboratory and is considered a leader in the field of sarcopenia (muscle dysfunction with aging). Her research team seeks to translate basic science discoveries into potential therapeutic strategies to combat sarcopenia and frailty. Dr. Thompson pioneered studies linking alterations in protein structure and function with single skeletal muscle fiber weakness and slowing of contraction. She identified post-translational modifications of key muscle proteins with aging and disease, such as diabetes. Recently, Dr. Thompson’s research team was the first to create the mouse frailty index or phenotype to identify frail mice.  This frailty index parallels the frailty index used by physical therapists in their practices.

Dr. Thompson has been invited to present her work at national and international institutions. She has organized and chaired international conferences on aging and oxidative stress and belongs to the editorial board of scientific journals. Dr. Thompson has served on NIH advisory panels, including special emphasis panels, and study sections.

With more than 20 years in the field, she has made a commitment to training the next generation of great scientists – including more than 30 undergraduate, doctoral, and post-doctoral students – and in particular, developing the careers of translational scientists.

Come and join the Thompson research team!

Post Doctoral Associate

DongminKwak_0004Dongmin Kwak, PhD, received his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in sport science from SungKyunKwan University and his PhD in kinesiology (emphasis in exercise physiology) from the University of Minnesota. While at the University of Minnesota, Kwak studied novel molecular mechanisms by which dimethylarginine dimethylaminohydrolase 1 (DDAH1) dysfunction contributes to development pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH) and heart failure (HF) in the Lillehei Heart institute. Kwak then joined the laboratory of Professor LaDora Thompson, where he transitioned to studying the pre-clinical index of frailty for mice and senescence in aging skeletal muscle.

Research Assistant Professor

Guoxian Wei, MS, DDS, PhD was extensively trained in laboratories at leading research institutions in North America and Europe where he obtained a broad background in oral microbiology and biochemistry. His research interests at the Radboud University Nijmegen in the Netherlands and at the University of Illinois in Chicago focused on oral microbes and the antimicrobial effect of natural products on oral bacteria and mixed culture dental biofilms. While working at the State University of New York at Buffalo, he further investigated saliva derived antimicrobial peptides, which resulted in the publication of several peer-reviewed papers in recognized academic journals. Before joining Sargent College, Wei was devoted to the isolation and characterization of proteolytic enzymes from oral microorganisms from human saliva, and to investigating proteolytic cleavage site specificities using mass spectrometry. As a mentor and co-mentor, he also taught and supervised students (MS, DSc, and PhD). His current activities focus on the structure and function of proteasomes in skeletal muscles of frail populations. View a list of his publications here.


JongHee Kim, PhD, is an assistant professor at the Department of Physical Education at Hanyang University in Seoul, South Korea. He is investigating the role of oxidative stress and the contribution of the proteasome in animal models of Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy. He is also evaluating several therapeutic interventions to retard, reverse, or prevent the skeletal muscle dysfunction associated with Duschenne Muscular Dystrophy. 

Cory W. Baumann, PhD, is a postdoctoral research fellow in the Department of Rehabilitation Medicine at the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis, Minnesota. He is developing a frailty index that utilizes common physical and functional assessments to predict frailty in adult mice. He is also determining the role of the proteasome, in particular the immunoproteasome, as it relates to skeletal muscle atrophy and stress, and how it may influence the muscle’s contractile function.