espite many medical advances over the past 50 years, vascular disease remains the number one killer in America, accounting for more than 40 percent of all deaths each year, according to the American Heart Association. Arteriosclerosis, aneurysms, and other blood vessel disorders claim a disproportionate number of lives among the elderly, a trend that will only amplify as the population continues to age, said Louis Messina, MD, UCSF professor, chief of the division of vascular surgery and the E.J. Wylie Endowed Chair in surgery. Even when symptoms are not life-threatening, vascular disease can greatly impair the health and productivity of patients, he said. For example, of the 500,000 who suffer strokes each year, only 10 percent recover fully. Thirty percent die within one year and 60 percent survive, but suffer from ongoing disability. The total cost to care for stroke survivors each year in the United States is estimated to be $30 billion.
Through close integration of basic and clinical scientists, The Pacific Vascular Research Laboratory seeks to foster the transfer of knowledge about the molecular mechanisms of vascular disease into effective molecular therapies. A second focus is to create a unique environment to train the clinical and basic scientists of the future.
The lab's research is currently focused on the investigation of the molecular regulation of blood vessel formation (angiogenesis), said Rong Wang, PhD, UCSF assistant professor of surgery and anatomy and director of the Pacific Vascular Research Laboratory. Her research group is concentrated on angiogenesis during embryonic development and liver tumor progression. The group has developed transgenic mouse models that allow genes to be inactivated or activated in vascular cells in a controlled manner. This approach makes it possible to test vascular functions of genes both during embryonic development and in adult disease conditions, she said.
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Contact: Maureen McInaney
University of California - San Francisco
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