Faculty Database:
[ PhD Program: Cardiovascular Biology Keyword: ]

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NameEmailPhd ProgramResearch InterestsPublications
Arendshorst, William email , , , , publications

We study mechanisms of cellular and molecular function as they control cardiovascular and kidney physiology in health and disease. We focus on G-protein coupled receptors and calcium signaling pathways of resistance arterioles that regulate vascular resistance in normal kidneys and pathophysiologically such as those of animals with genetic hypertension or animals with genes deleted. Measurements include renal vascular reactivity to neurohormonal agents and autacrine/paracrine factors combined with parallel investigation of receptor/calcium signal transduction in vascular smooth muscle cells in vitro.

Bahnson, Edward Moreira email , , , , , , publications

We are interested in studying diabetic vasculopathies. Patients with type 2 diabetes mellitus or metabolic syndrome have aggressive forms of vascular disease, possessing a greater likelihood of end-organ ischemia, as well as increased morbidity and mortality following vascular interventions. Our long term research aims to change the way we treat arterial disease in diabetes by:

  • Understanding why arterial disease is more aggressive in diabetic patients, with a focus in redox signaling in the vasculature.
  • Developing targeted systems using nanotechnology to locally deliver therapeutics to the diseased arteries.
Bautch, Victoria email , , , , , , publications

Blood vessel formation in cancer and development; use mouse culture (stem cell derived vessels) and in vivo models (embryos and tumors); genetic, cell and molecular biological tools; how do vessels assemble and pattern?, dynamic image analysis.

Bellinger, Dwight A. email , publications

Research interests include atherosclerosis, thrombosis and von Willebrand’s disease. The role of von Willebrand factor in arterial thrombosis is being studied in atherosclerotic vessels to gain a better understanding of thrombosis and its possible prevention in people with coronary artery disease. Comparative pathology and the use of animal models in research are also the focus of some research efforts.

Bergmeier, Wolfgang email , , , , , publications

Our research focuses on the adhesion mechanisms of platelets and neutrophils to sites of vascular injury/ activation. For successful adhesion, both cell types rely on activation-dependent receptors (integrins) expressed on the cell surface. We are particularly interested in the role of calcium (Ca2+) as a signaling molecule that regulates the inside-out activation of integrin receptors. Our studies combine molecular and biochemical approaches with microfluidics and state-of-the-art in vivo imaging (intravital microscopy) techniques.

Bressan, Michael email , , , , publications

Oscillatory behaviors are seen at multiple scales throughout biology and fundamentally require both a biochemical process capable of sustained, repetitive, state transitions and a system to functionally interpret each state. Multicellular organ systems routinely utilize such biorhythmic electrochemicaloscillators to coordinate and order physiological processes. Or group’s primary research interests are focused on: i) the developmental mechanisms that specify autonomous rhythmic signal generation, and ii) the cellular and biophysical processes that allow for effective downstream transmission of these signals.   To address these topics we combine classical experimental embryological approaches with state-of-the-art live cell imaging to investigate the physiological development of the electrical system of the heart.

Caron, Kathleen email , , , , , publications

Gene targeting and state-of-the-art phenotyping methods are used to elucidate the reproductive and cardiovascular roles of the adrenomedullin system and to characterize the novel GPCR-signaling mechanism of Adm’s receptor and RAMP’s.

Cheney, Richard email , , , , , , publications

Our goal is to understand the fundamental cell biology underlying processes such as neurodevelopment, angiogenesis, and the metastasis of cancer cells.  Most of our experiments focus on molecular motors such as myosin-X and on the finger-like structures known as filopodia.  We generally utilize advanced imaging techniques such as TIRF and single-molecule imaging in conjunction with mammalian cell culture.  We also  use molecular biology and biochemistry and are in the process of developing a mouse model to investigate the functions of myosin-X and filopodia.   We are looking for experimentally driven students who have strong interests in understanding the molecular basis of dynamic cellular processes such as filopodial extension, mechanosensing, and cell migration.

Church, Frank C. email , , , , , , publications

Our research is concerned with proteases and their inhibitors in various disease processes (thrombosis and cancer); our science tools are structure-activity, cell biology and signaling, pathobiology, immunohistochemistry, and in vivo models.

Diaz-Sanchez, David email , , , , publications

The work focuses on how air pollutants affect human health, the role of genetics and epigenetic factors in determining susceptibility and clinical/dietary strategies to mitigate these effects. There is a strong emphasis on translational research projects using a multi-disciplinary approach. Thus, by using human in vivo models (such as clinical studies) we validate in vitro, epidemiology, and animal findings.

Faber, James E. email , , , , publications

We study mechanisms of formation of the collateral circulation in embryonic and neonatal mice, 2) collateral growth and angiogenesis in models of ischemic disease in adult mice, 3) signaling in collateral endothelial cells, and 4) the genetic and environmental basis for the large variation in collateral vessel formation in the embryo and growth in ischemic disease (see Faber et al Physiol Genom 2007; Circ Res 2008) using genome-wide mapping and expression profiling (QTL, eQTL), consomic and haplotype analyses, plus physiologic, cellular and molecular study of candidate genes. Techniques in addition to those mentioned above include physiologic analysis of mouse models of cerebral, coronary and hindlimb ischemic disease, vascular imaging (angiography, laser Doppler flowmetry, micro-computed tomography), signaling analysis, cell and molecular biology.  We also study adaptive and pathological arterial wall growth and remodeling in the adult. The laboratory collaborates with other groups at UNC and other institutions in the US and elsewhere, providing varied opportunities for professional development.

Farraj, Aimen K email , , , , publications

Air pollution exposure is associated with increased hospital visits and mortality, and is a major area of research for the United States Environmental Protection Agency.  The primary research interest of my laboratory is the examination of the effects and mechanisms of air pollutants in the environment on normal cardiopulmonary function (cardiac toxicology), particularly in models of cardiovascular disease, using state-of-the-art targeted and high throughput methods. Research findings are often used to inform environmental public health and contribute to the refinement of the US EPA’s National Ambient Air Quality Standards for specific air pollutants set to limit their health impact.

Girdler, Susan email , , , publications

I have been an NIH-funded women’s health researcher for over 20 years.   The focus of my current research is in reproductive mood disorders, such as premenstrual dysphoric disorder and postpartum depression.  Current research in my lab is investigating the role of psychosocial stress (e.g., histories of trauma) and alterations in cardiovascular, neuroendocrine, and GABAergic neurosteroid reactivity to stress in reproductive mood disorders.   I also have a long-standing research record in studies investigating ethnic and racial differences in physiologic stress reactivity and endogenous pain regulation.    /  / I co-direct an NIH-funded postdoctoral training program as well as the UNC Department of Psychiatry Junior Faculty Mentoring Program.  I am dedicated to training the next generation of independent investigators.

Giudice, Jimena email , , , , , publications

During development transcriptional and posttranscriptional networks are coordinately regulated to drive organ maturation, tissue formation, and cell fate. Interestingly, more than 90% of the human genes undergo alternative splicing, a posttranscriptional mechanism that explains how one gene can give rise to multiple protein isoforms. Heart and skeletal muscle are two of the tissues where the most tissue specific splicing takes place raising the question of how developmental stage- and tissue-specific splicing influence protein function and how this regulation occurs. In my lab we are interested on two exciting aspects of this broad question: i) how alternative splicing of trafficking and membrane remodeling genes contributes to muscle development, structure, and function, ii) the coupling between epigenetics and alternative splicing in postnatal heart development.

Gordon-Larsen, Penny email , , , , publications

Gordon-Larsen’s work integrates biology, behavior, and environment to understand, prevent and treat obesity, cardiovascular and cardiometabolic diseases. She works with biomarker, microbiome, metabolome, genetic, weight, diet, and environment data using multilevel modeling and pathway-based analyses. She works with several longitudinal cohorts that span more than 30 years. Most of her work uses data from the US and China. Her research teams include a wide variety of scientists working in areas such as genetics, medicine, bioinformatics, biostatistics, microbiology, nutrition, and epidemiology.

Hazari, Mehdi S email , , , publications

Research in my laboratory focuses on the effects of air pollution and other environmental pollutants on the cardiovascular and respiratory systems. We use both traditional as well as novel physiological approaches (radiotelemetry, HF echocardiography, physiological challenge testing) to determine not only the short-term effects of exposure, but also the long-term consequences on health, particularly in the development of chronic diseases (e.g. heart disease). Rodent models are used to study the effects of real-world air pollution concentrations on the central and local neural controls of the cardiovascular and respiratory systems that render a host susceptible to adverse health events. Newer exciting research is focused on public health aspects such as nutrition (e.g. vitamin deficiencies) and non-environmental stressors (e.g. noise, climate change, social disruption) as modifiers of air pollution health effects. These studies examine the epigenetic changes that occur in early life or during development that result in physiological effects and future susceptibility.

Homeister, Jonathon W. email , , , , publications

Our research focuses on understanding the molecular and cellular mechanisms of leukocyte (white blood cell) trafficking and homing in vascular inflammation and immune responses. We are interested in the glycobiology of the Selectin leukocyte adhesion molecules and their ligands, and understanding the roles for these glycoproteins in the pathogenesis of inflammatory/immune cardiovascular diseases such as atherosclerosis and vasculitis. We are also interested in the mechanisms whereby the selectins and their ligands link the inflammatory response and coagulation cascade and thereby modulate thrombosis and hemostasis.

Kodavanti, Urmila P email , , , , publications

Our research focuses on understanding mechanisms of cardiovascular and metabolic health effects of inhaled air pollutants. Specific emphasis is given to susceptibility variations due to underlying cardiovascular disease, obesity, and diabetes. The roles of genetic versus physiological factors are examined. We use molecular and high throughput genomics, and proteomics techniques to establish a link with disease phenotype and physiological alterations. State-of-the-art EPA inhalation facilities are used for air pollution exposures in animal models with or without genetic predisposition. The role of environment in disease burden is the focus.

Lentz, Barry email , , , , publications

The regulatory role of platelet membrane phosphatidylserine in blood coagulation; mechanism of protein-mediated membrane fusion in secretory processes and virus infection.  Director of the Molecular & Cellular Biophysics Training Program.

Liu, Jiandong email , , , , , publications

Congenital heart diseases are one of the most common birth defects in humans, and these arise from developmental defects during embryogenesis.  Many of these diseases have a genetic component, but they might also be affected by environmental factors such as mechanical forces. The Liu Lab combines genetics, molecular and cell biology to study cardiac development and function, focusing on the molecular mechanisms that link mechanical forces and genetic factors to the morphogenesis of the heart.  Our studies using zebrafish as a model system serve as the basic foundation to address the key questions in cardiac development and function, and could provide novel therapeutic interventions for cardiac diseases.

Mack, Christopher P. email , , , , , publications

My research goals are to identify the mechanisms by which environmental factors regulate smooth muscle cell phenotype and to define the transcriptional pathways that regulate SMC-specific gene expression.

Mackman, Nigel email , , , , publications

The major focus of Mackman lab is the procoagulant protein tissue factor. This is the primary cellular initiator of blood coagulation. We study its role in hemostasis, thrombosis, inflammation, ischemia-reperfusion injury and tumor growth.  LPS induction of the tissue factor gene in human monocytic cells and endothelial cells is mediated by various transcription factors, such as AP-1, NF-ĸB and Egr-1. More recently, we found that the phosphatidylinositol-3-kinase protein kinase B intracellular signaling pathway suppresses LPS activation of monocytes and endothelial cells.  We found that inhibition of either tissue factor or the downstream coagulation protease thrombin reduced infarct size in a rabbit model of cardiac ischemia-reperfusion injury. We showed that the tissue factor-thrombin pathway increased inflammation during myocardial ischemia-reperfusion injury by inducing chemokine expression and enhancing the recruitment of neutrophils. We have generated a number of mouse models expressing different levels of both mouse and human tissue factor. These mice have been used to provide new insights into the role of tissue factor in hemostasis and thrombosis. In 2007, we developed a new assay to measure levels of microparticle tissue factor in plasma. We found that elevated levels of microparticle tissue factor are associated with venous thromboembolism in cancer patients.

Maeda, Nobuyo N. email , , , , , , , publications

Our research is focused on the genetics and molecular pathology of complex multi-factorial conditions in humans – obesity, diabetes, hypercholesterolemia, insulin resistance, and hypertension.  These conditions underlie cardiovascular diseases, including atherosclerosis, the major cause of death and disabilities in North America. Our approach consists of experiments with mice carrying modifications in various genes important for the maintenance of vascular function, antioxidant defense, and metabolism.  We dissect how gene-gene and gene-environment interaction influences the pathogenesis of these common human conditions and their complications.

Makowski, Liza email , , , , , , publications

The Makowski lab focuses on substrate metabolism or “immunometabolism” in immune cells such as macrophages and metabolic reprogramming in complex diseases such as obesity, insulin resistance, atherosclerosis, and cancer. We use mouse models, cell culture, and metabolomics to study the interaction between inflammation and nutrient sensitive pathways. Projects in lab are funded by NIH, AHA, and the Mary Kay Foundation.  Core Techniques include:  Glucose, fatty acid, cholesterol trafficking and metabolism using radiotracer biochemical studies. Cellular bioenergetics. Digital Immunohistochemical Analysis

McCullough, Shaun D. email , , , , , publications

Dr. McCullough’s lab focuses around the role of the epigenetic elements as both a molecular mechanism mediating the effects of toxic exposures and as a biomarker for predicting susceptible populations and identifying factors that can be used to mitigate adverse health outcomes.  The lab employs a translational research approach to toxicology with an emphasis on molecular biology that uses both advanced in vitro primary cell models and in vivo clinical controlled human exposure studies.

Meissner, Gerhard email , , , , publications

The goal of the laboratory’s research is to define the structure and function of an intracellular Ca2+ release channel in skeletal and cardiac muscle, using molecular biological and electrophysiological methods and by creating mutant mice.

Mohlke, Karen email , , , , , publications

We identify genetic variants that influence common human traits with complex inheritance patterns, and we examine the molecular and biological mechanisms of the identified variants and the genes they affect. Currently we are investigating susceptibility to type 2 diabetes and obesity, and variation in cholesterol levels, body size, body shape, and metabolic traits. We detect allelic differences in chromatin structure and gene expression and examine gene function in human cell lines and tissues. In addition to examining the primary effects of genes, the lab is exploring the interaction of genes with environmental risk factors in disease pathogenesis. Approaches include genome-wide association studies, molecular biology, cell biology, genetic epidemiology, sequencing, and bioinformatic analysis of genome-wide data sets.

Neher, Saskia email , , , , , publications

Our lab seeks to better understand the maturation and regulation of a group of human lipases.  We aim to uncover how these lipases properly fold and exit the ER, and how their activity is subsequently regulated.  We study the membrane-bound and secreted proteins that play a role in lipase regulation.  Our research can potentially impact human health as biochemical deficiencies in lipase activity can cause hypertriglyceridemia and associated disorders, such as diabetes and atherosclerosis.  We are an interdisciplinary lab and aim to address these questions using a variety of techniques, including membrane protein biochemistry, enzymology, and structural and molecular biology.

Qian, Li email , , , , , publications

Our laboratory is interested in developing innovative approaches to regenerate or repair an injured heart. Our goal is to understand the molecular basis of cardiomyocyte specification and maturation and apply this knowledge to improve efficiency and clinical applicability of cellular reprogramming in heart disease. To achieve these goals, we utilize in vivo modeling of cardiac disease in the mouse, including myocardial infarction (MI), cardiac hypertrophy, chronic heart failure and congenital heart disease (CHD). In addition, we take advantage of traditional mouse genetics, cell and molecular biology, biochemistry and newly developed reprogramming technologies (iPSC and iCM) to investigate the fundamental events underlying the progression of various cardiovascular diseases as well as to discover the basic mechanisms of cell reprogramming.

Schisler, Jonathan C. email , , , , publications

The Schisler Lab is geared towards understanding and designing therapies for diseases involving proteinopathies- pathologies stemming from protein misfolding, aggregation, and disruption of protein quality control pathways. We focus on cardiovascular diseases including the now more appreciated overlap with neurological diseases such as CHIPopathy (or SCAR16, discovered here in our lab) and polyQ diseases. We use molecular, cellular, and animal-based models often in combination with clinical datasets to help drive our understanding of disease in translation to new therapies.

Taylor, Joan M. email , , , , , publications

The goal of our research is to identify signaling mechanisms that contribute to normal and pathophysiological cell growth in the cardiovascular system.  We study cardiac and vascular development as well as heart failure and atherosclerosis.

Tong, Haiyan email , , , , publications

Research in my laboratory focuses on the cardiovascular effects of air pollution and other environmental pollutants in human, animal, and in vitro models, as well as the dietary interventional strategies to mitigate the adverse health effects of air pollution exposure. We are currently conducting two clinical studies to investigate the cardiopulmonary effects of air pollution exposure, and to determine whether dietary omega-3 fatty acids can mitigate the air pollution-induced health effects in human volunteers. These studies provide good training opportunities for students who are interested in training in clinical and translational toxicology research.

Voruganti, Saroja email , , publications

My research interests are focused on understanding the effects of genetic and environmental factors and their interaction on complex human diseases using a combination of statistical, molecular and bioinformatics approaches. My specific interests include understanding the influence of genetic variants on serum uric acid levels (a biomarker for renal-cardiovascular disease), effect of gene by diet interactions on serum uric acid levels and associated renal-cardiovascular disease risk factors and identification of functional variants affecting these disorders that will lead to novel treatment options.

Willis, Monte S. email , , , , publications

We are looking for talented and motivated individuals to join our research team. Dr. Willis’s lab investigates the molecular basis of genetic and lifestyle mediated cardiomyopathic disease (heart failure) using bioinformatics, molecular, and animal model approaches. We are seeking graduate students looking for an exciting and supportive research environment offering a diversity of experiences integrating cardiac phenotyping, mouse models of disease, molecular biology, and ubiquitin proteasome biology. Both national and international training experiences supported by the Leducq Foundation (http://fondationleducq.org/network/proteotoxicity-an-unappreciated-mechanism-of-heart-disease-and-its-potential-for-novel-therapeutics/) are possible,  depending on citizenship and interest in travel.

Wolberg, Alisa email , , , , publications

We investigate cellular, molecular, and biochemical mechanisms of blood coagulation.  Using in vitro, ex vivo, and in vivo models, we focus on mechanisms contributing to cardiovascular disease (heart attack, stroke, deep vein thrombosis), including the effects of plasma proteins, cells, and blood flow (shear) on blood clot biochemical and mechanical stability.  We have shown that abnormalities in blood protein and/or cellular function contribute to bleeding and clotting pathologies including hemophilia and thrombosis, and shown how hemostatic and antithrombotic therapeutics modulate clot quality.  Current efforts are focused on pathophysiologic mechanisms that result in bleeding or prothrombotic disease (e.g., cancer).  Our overall goal is to translate this knowledge into novel approaches for treating bleeding and clotting disorders.

Xiao, Xiao email , , , , publications

Xiao lab is interested in molecular medicine, specifically, gene delivery and therapy for various genetic and acquired diseases. The lab genetically engineers a non-pathogenic and defective DNA virus, named adeno-associate virus (AAV). The engineered AAV has all of its own genes gutted and replaced by our own genes of interests. As a result, the 22-nanometer AAV particles now serve as tiny FedEx/UPS trucks to deliver therapeutic genes to a variety of cells, tissues and even the whole body. Besides its superb efficiency, AAV also offers an excellent safety profile. For example, Xiao lab has developed AAV vectors to treat diseases like muscular dystrophies, heart failure, diabetes, arthritis, hepatitis and cancer, etc. A first of its kind gene therapy for Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD), a lethal childhood genetic disease, is in a phase I clinical trial.  In addition to gene delivery for therapeutic purposes, AAV can also be used as a powerful tool to study basic biology such as molecular genetics, signal transduction, apoptosis, mechanisms of pathogenesis and even the engineering of animal models. For example, AAV vectors can be used to deliver protein-encoding genes, antisense RNA, small interference RNA (siRNA) or microRNA to tissues like the muscle, heart, liver, pancreas, kidney, lung, brain and spinal cord, etc., to over-express, up-regulate or knockdown a gene or multiple genes for the purposes of dissecting particular molecular pathways, biological functions and immunology consequences and even creating disease models.