Department of Pathology and Anatomical Sciences
Apoptosis and cell death; Cell Cycle; Cytoskeleton and cell motility; Gene Expression; Genomics and proteomics; Molecular and Cellular Biology; Molecular Basis of Disease; Signal Transduction
One third of our tissue mass is extracellular matrix (ECM). The ECM provides structural support for cells in tissues and varies from being stiff like bone to soft like skin. Importantly, the stiffness of the ECM affects how cells proliferate and migrate and this can be changed by injury or disease. My research is in blood vessels and particularly in arterial stiffening, which is a significant risk factor for the progression of cardiovascular disease, (leading worldwide cause of death). While medications reduce hypertension and cholesterol, none specifically treat arterial stiffness.
My lab will identify what happens to cells when arteries become stiffened and determine how this contributes to cardiovascular disease. To understand how arterial stiffening affects cells, we will use mouse and cellular models to mimic the stiffening process in patients. We believe that cells within a stiffer matrix overproduce certain proteins that lead to uncontrolled cell growth, which then begets even more stiffening. Identifying and understanding the proteins in these pathways will allow the development of drugs to counteract their function. Our research will bring fundamental new knowledge about arterial stiffness and lead to new medications that help reduce a key cause of cardiovascular disease.