The Vascular Biology Group
Over one billion people worldwide are affected by high blood pressure (hypertension). Hypertension is a major risk factor in many diseases including heart failure, stroke, chronic kidney disease, erectile dysfunction and Alzheimer's disease. Importantly, 90% of the people with hypertension are genetically prone to developing high blood pressure, but relatively little is known about the mechanisms that underlie this susceptibility.
My group investigates blood vessels. We are interested in the cells that control the diameter of arteries, namely smooth muscle cells, which can contract and relax. In hypertension and atherosclerosis, hyper-contractility and restructuring of arterial smooth muscle cells leads to increased arterial tone and/or reduced blood flow. In the smooth muscle cells, several membrane proteins display altered function and expression, but without an understanding of how their membrane expression is controlled, development of new therapeutics to treat hypertension remains a distant dream. My research will continue to investigate trafficking mechanisms of specific membrane proteins, such as ion channels and receptors, that are dysregulated in vascular disease.