UCSF celebrates opening of new vascular research laboratory

November 04, 2002

The UCSF division of vascular surgery, along with the UCSF division of biomedical sciences and the Cardiovascular Research Institute, is sponsoring a symposium to celebrate the opening of the Pacific Vascular Research Laboratory.

The new UCSF laboratory, funded by a $6.5 million grant from the Pacific Vascular Research Foundation and the Wayne and Gladys Valley Foundation, represents a collaboration between scientists and physicians working to generate and transfer new knowledge about vascular diseases into safer and more effective treatments. The symposium on angiogenesis - the growth of vessels from existing capillaries -- will feature presentations from distinguished speakers:

1:15 - 1:45 - Rong Wang, PhD, UCSF assistant professor of surgery and anatomy and director of the Pacific Vascular Research Laboratory.
Elucidating the genetic control of angiogenesis using conditional transgenic mice.

1:45 - 2:15 - Didier Stainier, PhD, UCSF associate professor of biochemistry.
A genetic approach to angiogenesis in zebrafish.

2:15 - 2:45 - Shaun Coughlin, M.D., PhD, UCSF professor of medicine and cellular and molecular pharmacology and director of the UCSF Cardiovascular Research Institute.
Protease-activated receptors and coagulation proteases in blood vessel development.

2:45 - 3:15 - Napoleon Ferrara, MD, Genentech fellow in the UCSF department of molecular oncology.
New insights in the regulation of angiogenesis by Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor (VEGF) and novel factors.

3:15 - 3:45 - Refreshments

3:45 - 4:15 - Douglas Hanahan, PhD, UCSF professor of biochemistry.
Mechanisms of tumor angiogenesis.

4:15 - 5:00 - Shahin Rafii, MD, Cornell University assistant professor, department of medicine.
Recruitment of VEGF-responsive marrow-derived hemangiogenic cells essential for post-natal angiogenesis/vasculogenesis.


Despite 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.

A deeper understanding of the molecular events that occur during blood vessel formation will potentially lead to new therapies for patients with blocked arteries of the heart and limbs, said Messina. Messina's work focuses on the development of gene therapy to treat critical limb ischemia and the mechanisms controlling collateral artery development.
Headquartered in San Francisco, the Pacific Vascular Research Foundation is a public benefit, charitable foundation whose mission is the prevention of death and disability from vascular disease. The Foundation is actively engaged in scientific research and the education of physicians, patients and the public about vascular diseases, their early detection, and new and innovative treatment strategies. In addition, the Foundation supports Wylie research awards for scientific investigations and the Pacific Vascular Research Laboratory at UCSF Medical Center. For further information, call 1-866-482-7285.

University of California - San Francisco

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