University of Vermont

College of Medicine

Vermont Medicine Magazine

Vizzard Delivers University Scholar Lecture March 27

Margaret Vizzard
University Scholar Margaret Vizzard, Ph.D., professor of neurological sciences. (Photo by Raj Chawla, UVM Medical Photography)

A nationally and internationally recognized expert and leader in system neuroscience related to the neural control of the lower urinary tract system, Margaret Vizzard, Ph.D., University of Vermont professor of neurological sciences, was recognized as a 2012-13 University Scholar last year. She delivered her University Scholar lecture, titled “To Pee or Not to Pee: Science Below the Belt,” on Wednesday, March 27, 2013 in the Memorial Lounge in UVM’s Waterman building.

Vizzard has developed multidisciplinary approaches and technologies that reveal new insights into the fundamental mechanisms by which the nervous system responds to injury and inflammatory processes related to the genitourinary system and beyond. With support from a variety of federal and private agencies including the National Institutes of Health, American Heart Association, American Paralysis Association, Interstitial Cystitis Association and Spinal Cord Research Foundation, she has accomplished more than 80 journal publications, as well as many invited review articles and presentations at research symposia. In addition, Vizzard also serves as a grant reviewer for NIH study sections, manuscript reviewer for numerous journals, on an editorial board for the American Journal of Physiology, and as an associate editor for other journals.

One of Vizzard’s most noted discoveries is in the area of interstitial cystitis/painful bladder syndrome, a pelvic pain disorder characterized by bladder-associated pain, increased urination, urgency and night time urination. Her research has shown that increased expression of a protein called nerve growth factor (NGF) plays a role in urinary bladder dysfunction by facilitating the development of inflammation that causes cystitis. NGF in the bladder may be a biomarker for cystitis and other urinary bladder dysfunction. Vizzard’s findings are assisting the development of drug therapies to treat bladder disorders.

Vizzard earned a Ph.D. in physiology from Thomas Jefferson University, following which she served as a postdoctoral fellow and instructor in pharmacology at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine. She joined the UVM faculty in 1995.