Preventing muscle deterioration is an important component of healthy aging. Dr. Marni Boppart of the Department of Kinesiology and Community Health studies the repair process that occurs in skeletal muscle at the cellular level. Through her work, she has explained the role of the a7 integrin, an adhesion molecule that recruits therapeutic stem cells to injured muscles. She recently received a grant from the Ellison Medical Foundation to study the role of mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) in preventing sarcopenia, the natural muscle atrophy that occurs with aging. Her research has shown that age decreases the MSCs that are found in bone marrow and a variety of adult tissues. However, Dr. Boppart believes that a combination of the a7 integrin protein and exercise may restore the presence of the cells in skeletal muscle.