Dr. Gabriel’s research program is concentrated in physical activity and chronic disease epidemiology. Maintaining this focus has allowed her to expand this growing field into new and exciting areas of research including: (1) developing assessment strategies using self-report and device-based (e.g., accelerometers) techniques that are suitable for population-based research, (2) identifying the biological mechanisms and dose-response relationships between physical activity and chronic disease biomarkers and outcomes, and (3) clarifying the role of physical activity during young adulthood and mid-life on the risk of chronic disease and disability in older adulthood. She comes to physical activity epidemiology from a background in Athletic Training / Exercise Science and Clinical Exercise Physiology. After earning her PhD in Epidemiology from the University of Pittsburgh, she completed her post-doctoral training at Arizona State University. In 2010, she moved to Austin to become faculty at UTHealth. In 2015, she became Associate Professor of Medicine in the Department of Women's Health at Dell Medical School.
Currently, Dr. Gabriel is working on several projects including the Houston Travel Related Activity in Neighborhoods (TRAIN) Study and is part of several multi-site, prospective cohort studies including the Coronary Artery Risk Development in Young Adults (CARDIA), Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities (ARIC) Study, and Study of Women’s Health Across the Nation (SWAN). She is also a Principal Investigator on the CARDIA Activity Study and ARIC Physical Activity and Falls Study.
In summary, she explains, “Physical activity and exercise are powerful agents for primary prevention of chronic disease and disability. I strongly feel that it is my responsibility, as a physical activity epidemiologist, to “move the dial” on what is currently known about this vital behavior to reduce premature mortality and overall disease burden.”
The Houston TRAIN (Transportation Related Activity in Neighborhoods) Study will examine the short and long-term effect of a new light rail transit (LRT) system on adults’ physical activity in Houston, Texas.
New research paper co-authored by Center faculty Dr. Kelley Pettee Gabriel finds that higher income individuals are more likely to be “weekend warriors,” getting most of their activity on only a few days a week, and also spend more time in sedentary pursuits.