Banek Lab

We are the Cardiovascular Neurophysiology Laboratory team, where we are dedicated to investigating the role of peripheral neural control of cardiovascular and renal health and disease. Our recent research projects are focused on studying the role of peripheral sensory nerves in the development and maintenance of cardiovascular disease, specifically hypertension (i.e. High blood pressure). Sensory nerves in the kidney appear to greatly contribute to both the development and maintenance of several models of experimental hypertension and kidney disease (i.e. polycystic kidney diease), putatively through a gradual, pathological elevation in renal afferent nerve activity. It is unclear what is driving this change in activity, as well as the physiological responses to both acute and chronic sensory nerve activity. We employ chronic telemetry-based approaches as well as acute electrophysiological preparations to evaluate the changes in nerve activity and the corresponding cardiovascular responses. Additionally, we take a molecular approach to study the particular proteins and non-peptide signals that may be the primary drivers of sensory nerve activation. 

Laboratory Technology and Experimental Expertise: 

  • TSE Stellar Blood Pressure Telemetry System (Mouse/Rat)
  • Kaha Telemetry System for Arterial Pressure and Sympathetic Nerve Activity Recording
  • Medibeacon Mouse/Rat Non-Invasive GFR Measurement System
  • Tecniplast Mouse/Rat Metabolic Caging with Sample Cooling System
  • DMT Mulvany Wire-Myography for Vascular Function Measurement
  • Multi-unit Nerve Recording Multi-Channel Differential Amplifier and PowerLab/LabChart for In Vivo Electrophysiological Studies
  • Multiple Recovery Surgeries, including targeted peripheral nerve ablation and chronic catheterization
  • Tissue Molecular Analysis (Western Blotting, ELISA, HPLC)

If interested in collaborating or joining the team, please contact Dr. Banek by email.

Follow Us on Twitter!: @Banek_Lab 

Current Research Support:

R00HL141650, National Institutes of Health (NHLBI), Renal Denervation to Treat Hypertension: Mechanisms and Mediators
U24DK126110, National Institutes of Health (NIDDK), Pilot and Feasibility Award: Autosomal Recessive Polycystic Kidney Disease Progression: Role of Renal Autonomic Dysregulation




Christopher Banek, PhD (PI) 

Twitter  LinkedIn  ResearchGate  Google Scholar  UArizona Profile

Current CV-Neuro Laboratory Students and Staff

Meet the Banek Laboratory!


Mark Morales, Laboratory Manager

Mark enjoys learning new techniques that can further scientific discoveries. Outside interests are Rodeo, specifically Team Roping. 


Meet the Grad Students and Postdocs!


Sara AlMarabeh, PhD (Post-Doctoral Associate)

Sara is from Amman, Jordan, and she finished her undergraduate studies in Pharmacy at the University of Jordan. Sara did her PhD in Physiology at University College Cork in Ireland. She started her postdoctoral fellowship in Aug. 2022, and she is focused on neural control of the kidney in hypertension and related cardiovascular and renal diseases. In the lab, Sara enjoys learning new techniques and aims to launch her independent research career after her training. Outside the lab, Sara enjoys running, hiking, and eating lots of snacks.


Madeline Gauthier, PhD Student (Physiological Sciences GIDP)

Madeline is a hybrid MD/PhD student, conducting a PhD in the Banek laboratory while on a leave of absence from Loyola University Stritch School of Medicine. She is studying the role of the renal nerves in a model of autosomal recessive polycystic kidney disease. When finished with her PhD, she will return to Chicago to complete her final two years of medical school. When not in lab, she enjoys working out, hiking, spending time friends, and long walks with her dog, Fergus.


Beatriz Smith, PhD Student (Physiological Sciences GIDP)

Beatriz is a PhD student and is new to the Banek Lab. She completed a Physiological Sciences master's in colorectal cancer Summer of '22. Her current project aims to address the unknown interplay of cancer therapeutics causing acute kidney injury and renal sympathetic activity. She enjoys the simple things in life such as baking, cooking, horseback riding, playing guitar, and volunteering at church. She also enjoys adventures of motorcycle rides with her husband, Santiago. 


Melissa Dennis, MS Student (Major: Physiological Sciences GIDP)

Melissa is a 2nd year master's student in the Physiological Sciences GIDP Progam. She graduated from the University of Arizona and received her BSHS in Physiology along with two minors in Biochemistry and Psychology. She is currently focused on researching the role of vascular function in a model of autosomal recessive polycystic kidney disease.  In her spare time, Melissa likes to work out, hike, volunteer at a local therapeutic riding center, and drink lots of coffee! 


Christian Lueng, Accelerated BME MS Student (Major: Biomedical Engineering)

Christian is a 2nd year Accelerated Masters Student in the Biomedical Engineering Program. He graduated from the University of Arizona with his B.S. in Biomedical engineering in 2022. As an undergraduate, Christian focused on image processing (ImageJ, MATLAB), BF Microscopy, and data management for other projects. Currently, his Master's thesis is researching the correlation between afferent renal nerve spiking and blood pressure. In his free time, he loves playing with his dog Cici and going to the gym.


Meet the Undergraduate Team!


Elle Nangia, Undergraduate Researcher (Majors: Physiology; French)

Ellen is an undergraduate senior getting her B.M. in Physiology with a minor in Biochemistry and a B.A in French with a minor in Public Health at The University of Arizona Honors College. She works as an EMT on campus, journalist for The Daily Wildcat, and is an executive chair of Physiology Club and French Students Association. After graduating, Elle will be taking a gap year to work in the emergency department and apply to medical schools. When not in the lab she enjoys painting, cooking, and camping.


Noah Encinas, Undergraduate Researcher (Major: Physiology and Medical Sciences; Minor Biochemistry)

Noah is currently studying Physiology and Medical Sciences with a minor in Biochemistry. After completing his undergraduate degree, he plans on attending medical school and becoming a practicing physician. During his free time, he enjoys being outdoors and spending time with family.


Alexandra, Messieh Undergraduate Researcher (Major: Physiology and Medical Sciences; Minor Biochemistry)

Alex is an undergraduate majoring in Physiological and Medical Sciences with a minor in biochemistry. After completing her undergraduate degree, she plans to continue assisting in research with the Banek Lab and gain more experience in clinical settings. Her career goals include attending medical school and one day becoming a physician. In her free time she enjoys working out, reading, and spending time with her friends and family. 


Kingston Chartier, Undergraduate Researcher (Major: Physiology and Medical Science; Minor: Biochemistry)

In the lab, Kingston's interests include broadening his understanding about renal and neurophysiology and how renal denervation can be used to treat hypertension. Hobbies include working out, playing guitar and video games, and spending time with friends. His career goals are either pursuing medical school in hopes of becoming a Family Medicine Physician to help underserved communities or graduate physiology work.


Hannie Lynch, Undergraduate Researcher (Major: Neuroscience)

Hannie is an undergraduate student studying Neuroscience and Cognitive Science, with minors in Biochemistry and Family Studies. Outside of research, she enjoys reading, playing volleyball, and working as a wedding photographer. She is currently involved in the Navigators and NSCSAS clubs on campus and volunteers with therapy animals throughout the year. After completing her undergraduate degree, she plans to take a gap year to work, volunteer, and travel while applying for medical school.


Lizetta Zozobrado, Undergraduate Researcher (Major: Physiology and Medical Science; Minor Biochemistry)

Lizetta is one of our undergraduate researchers majoring in Physiology. She is planning on pursuing medical school with the goal of becoming a cardiothoracic surgeon. Outside of school, she likes to travel around the world and try new restaurants. 


Maddie Flynn, Undergraduate Researcher (Major: Physiology and Medical Science)

Maddie is an undergraduate majoring in Physiology and Medical Science. In the future, she plans to attend PA school and is interested in specializing in general surgery or cardiology. Volunteering in the Banek lab, she hopes to learn more about how various systems of the body are physiologically integrated and how this information can be applied to a clinical setting. Outside of the lab, Maddie enjoys hiking, painting, sewing, crocheting, and spending time with family and friends.


Yash Rohilla, Undergraduate Researcher (Major: Biology; Minor: Spanish)
Yash is an undergraduate majoring in Biology with a minor in Spanish. Outside the lab, he enjoys hiking, cooking, and spending time in the sun. After finishing undergrad he hopes to continue on to medical school to become a surgeon.

Taylor Trapnell, Undergraduate Researcher (Major: Physiology and Medical Sciences, Minors: Biochemistry and Emergency Medical Services)

Taylor is an undergraduate earning her BSHS in Physiology and Medical Sciences, with minors in Biochemistry and Emergency Medical Services. She works as a clinical research intern in the Department of Orthopedic Surgery, an ambassador for the College of Medicine, and a patient ambassador at Banner UMC-T. Her interest in the Banek Lab's nephrology research developed after working with renal patients as a medical assistant in urology and a medical scibe in emergency medicine. After graduating, Taylor plans to attend medical school and use her future position as a physician to advance health equity. Outside of the lab, she enjoys volunteering at free clinics, traveling, and spending time with her dog, Spotty. 


Giuliana Fasco, Student Researcher

Giuliana received her bachelors degree in Marketing from Eller College of Management here at the University of Arizona. Her interests have since shifted over to science and she eventually plans on pursuing a graduate degree in physiology. In her free time, she enjoys climbing, photography, and road trips. 


Ariel Kanzler, Student Researcher 

Ariel is a high school student that joins us from the STAR program. Ariel will be attending the University of Arizona in the Fall of 2023 and plans on pursuing a degree in physiology. In her free time, she enjoys spending time with her loved ones, working out, and adventuring in nature. 


Bash, Laboratory Mascot (Connoisseur of peanut butter and belly rubs)

Laboratory Alumni:

Irin Parvin, MS Student (Physiological Sciences GIDP) 

Irin is an international medical graduate from Bangladesh, and recent graduate from the Physiological Sciences GIDP at the University of Arizona. Her research focused on studying contribution of autonomic nervous system in renal and cardiovascular physiology both in healthy and diseased condition. Her career goal is to become a research physician. 


Ardine Balili, Undergraduate Researcher (Next Step: Ardine is pursuing PA school admissions and hopes to specialize in Rheumatology)


Charbel Curiel, Undergraduate Researcher (Next Step: After graduating in Spring 2023, Charbel will be attending PA school) 

Kyle Schwartz, Laboratory Technician (Next Step: Kyle is currently pursuing a medical degree with hopes to specialize in psychiatry at Vanderbilt University Medical School) 

Tom Tracey III, Undergraduate Researcher (Next Step: Tom is currently pursuing a degree in osteopahtic medicine at Midwestern University)

Zachary Bartoszek, Undergraduate Researcher (Next Step: Pursuing Medical School Admission)