Our interest is to identify genetic variants that are associated with cardiovascular disease and diabetes and define their biological function. We are currently integrating strategies from multiple disciplines to determine how genetic variants alter the course of disease. These strategies incorporate population genetics, biochemistry, cell biology, and transgenic and knockout animals.
A group in the lab is interested in the signaling pathways through which pericytes and vascular smooth muscle cells regulate contractile properties, extracellular matrix and blood pressure. We are utilizing single cell genomics paired with different techniques including traction force microscopy and vascular muscle thin films in collaboration with the Alford lab (http://alfordlab.umn.edu/) to measure contractility in pericytes and vascular smooth muscle cells. We incorporate genetic mouse models and human cells and tissue.
A second project in the lab is focused on testing the role of bromodomain containing proteins on cardiac hypertrophy and disease. This is a collaboration with the Pomerantz lab (http://www.chem.umn.edu/groups/pomerantz/). We are specifically focused on the bromodomain containing protein, BPTF (bromodomain PHD finger transcription factor). We are using novel chemical screening approaches, x-ray crystallography, and genomic approaches including adenovirus in cardiac myocytes and fibroblasts, and a genetic mouse model.
A third project in the lab is focused on epigenetic and transcriptional mechanisms that regulate cholesterol metabolism and the anti-inflammatory profile of macrophages in atherosclerosis. We are focused on the regulation of a specific gene, Nuclear Receptor Interacting Protein 1 (RIP140), and its role in cholesterol metabolism and atherosclerosis. This project is a collaboration with the Wei lab http://www.pharmacology.med.umn.edu/fac_wei.html.