Vascular Biology Affinity Group
The Cardiovascular Center has initiated AFFINITY GROUPS to stimulate and foster greater interaction and collaborations between CVC investigators and other investigators from MCW departments and outside institutions, such as Marquette University, the University of Wisconsin Milwaukee and the University of Georgia.
Blood vessels are hollow tubes that comprise of two cell types: the outer smooth muscle cells that envelope the endothelial cells on the inside. Blood vessels carry blood to all tissues in the body and form one of the three key components of the cardiovascular system, which in addition includes blood and the heart. Blood vessels are formed by two distinct processes, namely vasculogenesis, which is the process of formation of endothelial tube directly from immature cells, and angiogenesis, which is the formation of endothelial tube via extension of an existing vessel. Vasculogenesis and angiogenesis play critical roles in development and disease. The Vascular Biology group consists of seven basic science investigators with complementary expertise in basic developmental and cellular biology as it relates to vascular development. The common thread that connects these research groups is the ability to study vascular (endothelial and smooth muscle) cells in embryonic and adult development and disease. This area of research is directly related to the mission of CVC at MCW in that basic science discoveries at the bench are translated to outcomes that will benefit the research areas of angiogenesis and vasculogenesis.
Core members of this affinity group are Andrew Chan, PhD, Robert Miao, PhD, Ravi Misra, PhD, Ramani Ramchandran, PhD, Rashmi Sood, PhD, George Wilkinson, PhD, and Carol Williams, PhD. This group meets each week to discuss and share scientific results. A brief description of each of the individual programs of the investigators is provided below. Dr. Chan’s laboratory explores the signaling events regulated by a Ras-related GTPase, R-Ras protein in vascular smooth muscle cells and endothelial cells and is currently investigating potential angiogenic defects under normal or pathological conditions.
Dr. Miao’s laboratory studies Nogo-B and its cognate receptor (NgBR), neural guidance molecules in vascular remodeling, and angiogenesis. Their focus is to translate the basic science knowledge gained from these studies into therapeutic applications targeting tumor angiogenesis and developmental disorders such as hemangiomas.
Dr. Misra’s laboratory studies are directly related to developing treatments for ischemic heart disease. They utilize cellular, molecular, and genetic systems to define the mechanisms by which coronary vessels are generated, as well as to identify a population of progenitor cells that can be directly used to ameliorate ischemic heart disease. Identifying these cells and defining the mechanisms that regulate normal differentiation of these progenitor cells will lead to new therapeutic modalities for the treatment of congenital and acquired blood vessel diseases related to the pulmonary and cardiac circulations.
Dr. Ramchandran’s program investigates the basic mechanisms of blood vessel formation in vertebrates and the contribution of the vasculature to disease states. The program’s focus is primarily on studying genes and pathways that are responsible for cardiovascular development. In addition, tools for performing drug screens using zebrafish embryos are being developed, which will identify targets and potential drug leads for treating embryonic congenital cardiovascular defects.
Dr. Sood’s research studies the vascular bed of the placenta and the mechanism of pregnancy-related cardiovascular disorders. They are developing rodent models of pregnancy disorder associated with vascular disease, such as thrombophilia and pre-eclampsia. These studies directly contribute to our understanding of the vessel tone and function in hypertension-mediated cardiovascular conditions.
Dr. Wilkinson’s research is focused on understanding the molecular cues that guide the developing vasculature. They study novel endothelial gene products, using a combination of zebrafish developmental biology, cell culture models, and mouse genetics to unravel targets responsible for cardiovascular development.
Dr. Williams’ program investigates the mechanisms that cause atherosclerosis and hypertension, with the goal of developing new approaches to treat these diseases. Dr. Williams’ research is defining the abnormal changes that occur in these diseased vascular smooth muscle cells and investigating new strategies to prevent or reverse these pathological changes.
Cardiovascular Annual Report 2010
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