Dr. Siekmann’s lab seeks to understand the processes that are important for the proper formation of the cardiovascular system including the signaling pathways, the Notch and VEGF (Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor), that have been shown to function in arterial differentiation and angiogenesis.
To better understand these processes, Dr. Siekmann utilizes zebrafish as a model organism. The embryos of these fish offer unique advantages for the study of forming blood vessels. Available transgenic lines, marking endothelial cells with fluorescent proteins allow the in vivo observation of the developing vascular system. In addition, forward and reverse genetic tools permit a detailed analysis of the genes important for endothelial development. Moving forward, an increased understanding of the mechanisms that pattern the cardiovascular system will help us in developing strategies for curing diseases with a vascular component, such as diabetes, stroke and cancer.