Molecular Mechanisms of Vasculature Formation

Blood vessel formation is tightly linked to different types of vascular diseases, wound healing, regeneration and cancer in humans. Mechanisms controlling blood vessel formation de novo, vasculogenesis, and blood vessels sprouting from the existing vessels, angiogenesis, are still poorly understood.

The zebrafish has emerged as an advantageous model organism to study how the evolutionary conserved network of vertebrate blood vessels arises during development. Transparent zebrafish embryos develop externally, so the finest details of blood vessel development can be easily observed in live embryos using light microscopy. Furthermore, zebrafish embryos can develop for several days in the complete absence of blood circulation, which enables accurate analysis of defects in vascular mutants.

Our lab utilizes zebrafish as a model to study molecular mechanisms of vasculature formation. We are studying transcriptional regulation during embryonic vasculogenesis and angiogenesis, as well as pathological vascular development such as tumor angiogenesis. We are also performing screens for novel potential regulators of vasculature formation followed by their characterization and functional studies. And finally, we are using zebrafish as a model system to identify genetic causes of different human vascular diseases including intracranial aneurysms.

Graduate Student Positions Are Available!

Please contact Saulius Sumanas to discuss potential projects for your rotation.