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Dr. Todd Cade is an Associate Professor of Physical Therapy and Medicine, as well as Associate Director of Postdoctoral Fellowships in the Program in Physical Therapy at Washington University in St. Louis School of Medicine. He received his undergraduate training in Kinesiological Science at the University of Maryland, College Park and went on to complete his M.Sc. in Physical Therapy at the University of Miami. Afterwards Todd was awarded his PhD in Rehabilitation Science from the University of Maryland and he received a postdoctoral fellowship in Endocrinology and Metabolism at Washington University in St. Louis before joining the faculty there. Todd is here with us today to tell us all about his journey through life and science.
People Behind the Science Podcast Show Notes
Life Outside of Science (02:04)
Todd has three kids (two daughters and a son), and he spends most of his free time with his family. He also likes to read, run, and occasionally play golf.
The Scientific Side (04:23)
His research focuses on energy metabolism and how the body uses nutrients like fats, proteins, and sugars to generate energy. Todd is interested in understanding disruptions in metabolism regulation and how the heart and muscles are affected by these disruptions in metabolic diseases, particularly in kids. Studies in Todd’s lab investigate a rare condition called Barth syndrome, as well as diabetes and obesity in pregnancy.
A Dose of Motivation (06:17)
“Unless the Lord builds the house, those who build it labor in vain.” in Psalm 127
“The only way to do great work is to love what you do.” by Steve Jobs
What Got You Hooked on Science? (10:26)
After graduating from college where he majored in Health Science, Todd knew he was interested in studying how the human body worked, but he didn’t know what career path to choose. He ended up going to PT school and working as a therapist for a few years, but he felt like something was missing. He originally went to graduate school thinking he wanted to focus on teaching, but became fascinated by research once he started working in the lab.
The Low Points: Failures and Challenges (17:20)
A major area of Todd’s current research examines the influence of maternal metabolism and obesity on the health of the baby. Several years ago when he was first trying to get funding for his research in this area, he and his colleague faced rejection after rejection. On one application, he received the worst review he could have imagined. This was really discouraging, but they were convinced this was an important project and didn’t give up.
A Shining Success! (20:08)
After the aforementioned repeated rejections Todd faced on his maternal metabolism grant submissions, it was really rewarding to finally receive funding and then go on to have his manuscript accepted in a top diabetes journal. It turned out that the most interesting results from the project were actually their secondary objectives, and he was excited to be able to publish these findings.
Book Recommendations (03:05)
The Language of God: A Scientist Presents Evidence for Belief by Francis Collins
The Candy Bombers by Andrei Cherny
The Chronicles of Narnia by C. S. Lewis
Most Treasured Travel (22:48)
Todd’s favorite trip was to Dublin, Ireland for a conference a few years ago. He was able to travel with his wife and kids, and they traveled to London and Paris together after the conference. Paris was beautiful, and the food there was wonderful. Todd is a history aficionado, and he was fascinated by his tour of the Churchill War Rooms in London. In addition, Todd is looking forward to an upcoming trip he will be taking to Rwanda for his work.
Quirky Traditions and Funny Memories (25:39)
One incident sticks out in Todd’s mind that occurred during one of his research studies on metabolic complications in HIV. They usually bring participants into the clinical research unit, and the nurses there help them with studies. When the nurse went to check on a participant after showing him into his room, she was surprised to find him sitting on the bed stark naked. To this day, they are still unsure if the patient thought he wasn’t allowed to wear clothes for the study or just preferred to be naked.
Advice For Us All (29:45)
Receiving your PhD is just the beginning of your career. There may be a lot of people talking about how hard it is to make it in a career in research, but if you are passionate, have good ideas, and are persistent, it is achievable. Keep in mind to live a balanced life and make your family a priority. Also, remember that clinical research can’t be done without the help and dedication of participants. Consider volunteering to participate in research!
Todd’s research focuses on understanding causes and treatments for skeletal muscle and heart nutrient (sugar, fat, protein) metabolism abnormalities in metabolic diseases such as Barth syndrome, diabetes, HIV-related metabolic syndrome and pathologic pregnancy. In addition to being scientist, Todd is also a physical therapist and therefore is keenly interested in using exercise/physical activity and nutrition to manage these diseases however is not against also using pharmacotherapy (including gene therapy) to improve health. Todd is most proud of his family in St. Louis including his wife of 13 years, 3 children (8, 6 and 1 years old) and yellow Labrador retriever. He loves to read mostly non-fiction, and some of his favorite books include CS Lewis and books on Word War II. Todd also enjoys exercising (running/resistance training), golfing when he can and following Philadelphia sports. He is also an enduring believer and is active in his church.