“We explore the novel functions of blood vessels during development and ageing”
The vertebrate body undergoes physiological changes during development, growth and ageing. Changes in body tissues are accompanied by changes in the organisation of nearby blood vessels. For example, when a tissue undergoes repair and regeneration, or becomes diseased, the organisation of blood vessels within that tissue will change. This suggests that blood vessels play a critical role in maintaining homeostasis, a functional equilibrium within a tissue.
In addition to their role as a transport network, blood vessels have recently been shown to regulate the process in which organs develop, organogenesis, and in which they establish their structure, tissue morphogenesis. They do this by providing molecular signals and growth factors to neighbouring cells in a tissue.
We also aim to understand the role of blood vessels in regulating the physiological functions of the skeletal system. The skeletal system provides mechanical support and is involved in blood cell production, mineral homeostasis and metabolism. It has a range of blood vessel subtypes, each with distinct microenvironments. We investigate the specific interactions between blood vessels and the surrounding bone tissue using a combination of novel approaches such as advanced 3D imaging, intra-vital imaging, transcript profiling and cell-specific inducible mouse genetics.
The ultimate goal of our research is to identify novel therapeutic strategies to manage ageing and age-related bone and blood diseases.
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