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Vascular Biology Research Laboratory

Michael Watkins, MD

Vascular Lab Research Focus:
The major emphasis of the Vascular Surgery Research Laboratory is to develop therapeutic strategies to ameliorate the local and systemic effects of ischemia and reperfusion injury. The laboratory uses in vitro and in vivo models to assess the skeletal muscle and vascular endothelial cell response to ischemia reperfusion on a molecular level. We recently secured funding from the American Diabetes Association to extend our observations in normal mice to a more clinically relevant scenario- i.e. murine model of Type 2 diabetes.

The Vascular Biology Research Laboratory has also started collaborating with investigators in the regenerative medicine department. The investigation is aimed at an analysis of the immune and stem cell response to acute limb ischemia reperfusion. In addition to studying limb ischemia, the vascular research laboratory has recently adopted a murine model of thoracic aortic ischemia reperfusion. This model has been useful in developing a basic understanding of the mechanisms of spinal cord, cardiac, visceral, pulmonary and renal injury simultaneously in an animal model, which lends itself to detailed molecular, and proteomic analysis. Preliminary data from these experiments was used to support an application to the NIH for a multi-centered clinical trial. Most recently, the laboratory has embarked on an entirely new line of investigation: mechanisms of venous injury. Using a controlled tension tourniquet, we are now able to promote various levels of venous occlusion, with minimal arterial compromise. We have noted that the cytokine response to venous occlusion is unique and distinct from the response to primary arterial occlusion.

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