I am also British Heart Foundation Senior Lecturer in Basic Biomedical Science and Scientific Director of the Microvascular Research Laboratories.
Understanding how vascular growth factors (VEGFs) regulate microvascular function is a key hurdle in developing treatments for as varied disease types as cancer, diabetes, vascular disease, psoriasis, age-related macular degeneration, and arthritis. These seemingly diverse diseases are either characterised by excessive and uncontrolled microvascular growth and permeability, such as in cancer, psoriasis, arthritis and diabetic retinopathy, or by an insufficiency of vascular growth into damaged tissue, for instance in peripheral ischaemia, diabetic ulceration and coronary ischaemia. Moreover, VEGFs are critical in non-angiogenesis-dependent diseases such as ARDS and neurodegenerative pathologies, although the mechanism is still contentious.
A principal difficulty in understanding how VEGFs work is their pluripotent nature. VEGFs are potent vascular permeability agents, strong vasodilators, autocrine growth factors on many cell types, and stimulate lymphatic growth. We have investigated how these multiple pathways can be separated using multiple methods, including coincident measurement of vascular permeability and compliance (figure A1), developing models for measuring angiogenesis and lymphangiogenesis in physiological systems (see figure A2&3), and investigating autocrine signalling pathways in multiple cell types.
As a way of integrating these approaches, we have set up the University of Bristol Microvascular Research Laboratories, focussing on translating basic biological science to clinical relevance and therapeutic development. More details of the MVRL can be found on its website
The MVRL is an in-vivo applied laboratory of the University of Bristol Wellcome Trust 4 year PhD programme in Dynamic Cell Imaging , and also takes on students through BHF, cancer charity and eye charity funded programmes.
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