Retina

Intricate network of newly-formed blood vessels in the retina of the eye.

phosphoERG detection

Protein interactions detected in HUVEC using proximity ligation assay.

3D MRI

3D magnetic resonance imaging in large vessel vasculitis.

Mouse ear blood vessels

The blood vessels in a mouse's ear.

The beautiful game

'The Beautiful Game'

Body scans

FDG-PET-CT scanning in large vessel vasculitis.

Retina plexus

VE-cadherin in retina plexus in the eye.

atorvastatin

Atorvastatin and rapamycin induced decay-accelerating factor on the aortic endothelium (green).

Vascular

3D image of blood vessels.

Contact


Professor Justin Mason
Co-lead academic
+44 (0)20 7594 2725
justin.mason@imperial.ac.uk

Professor Anna Randi
Co-lead academic
+44 (0)20 7594 2725
a.randi@imperial.ac.uk

Study with NHLI

What we do

We study inflammatory vascular diseases (e.g. atherosclerosis and large vessel vasculitis) and new blood vessel formation. The section is particularly interested in identifying the transcriptional and signalling mechanisms involved in endogenous cytoprotective and homeostatic mechanisms in the vasculature, with a specific focus on endothelial cell and macrophage pathways. The ultimate aim is the identification of novel targets for molecular imaging and therapeutic intervention.

OUR MAIN RESEARCH aims ARE:

  1. To identify signalling pathways in the endothelium that can be targeted to reduce vascular injury and inflammation.
  2. To identify the transcriptional mechanisms that control endothelial cell lineage and blood vessel formation for regenerative medicine applications.
  3. To characterise the role of monocytes and macrophage subsets in the development of atherosclerosis and its complications.
  4. To investigate the influence of the shear stress exerted by blood flow on vascular homeostasis, endothelial function and atherogenesis.
  5. To determine the genetic basis of vascular malformations with specific focus on hereditary haemorrhagic telangiectasia and von Willebrand Disease.
  6. To study endothelial dysfunction in patients by isolating circulating endothelial progenitors and microvesicles.
  7. To develop and optimise molecular imaging techniques for vascular inflammation and atherosclerosis.

Why it is important

Cardiovascular disease is still a leading cause of mortality and morbidity in high-income nations, and the increase in obesity and diabetes driven by lifestyle changes means that this will continue for the foreseeable future. Yet, given the decades of stresses that arteries are expected to sustain, why is there not more cardiovascular disease? Understanding what protective mechanisms usually prevent vessel damage (and promote repair) in cardiovascular disease is a key goal, and may in time facilitate improved prevention and treatment of cardiovascular disease.

The Vascular Science section combines expertise in basic and translational science with understanding of disease pathogenesis and clinical outcomes in a variety of vascular and inflammatory diseases. The multidisciplinary environment is well placed to advance scientific understanding in these areas and ultimately the development of novel therapeutic approaches. 

Our main vascular disease priorities are:

  • Ischaemic heart disease and atherosclerosis.
  • Vascular complications of rheumatic diseases (e.g. Takayasu arteritis, giant cell arteritis and Behçet’s syndrome).
  • Hereditary haemorrhagic telangiectasia (HHT) and pulmonary arteriovenous malformations (PAVMs).
  • Von Willebrand Disease.

Research impact and projects

Impact of our research


  • Discovery of PARP-14 as a post-transcriptional regulator of Tissue Factor expression in macrophages (Haskard).
  • Demonstration that ATF1 mediates induction of HO-1 by heme; with AMPK and ATF1 acting to regulate the normal resolution of bruising in vivo (Boyle).
  • The discovery of Erg as a “master-controller” transcription factor regulating endothelial homeostasis and angiogenesis (Randi, Birdsey).
  • Definition of the homeostatic role of endothelial PKCε signalling pathways and the vascular protective actions of the immunosuppressive drug methotrexate (Mason). 
  • Identification of the role of von Willebrand Factor in blood vessel development (Randi). 
  • Identification of IgG immunoglobulins as biomarkers of protection from major adverse cardiovascular events in hypertension (Khamis, Haskard).
  • Development of near infrared fluorescence whole body imaging of oxidised low density lipoproteins in atherosclerosis (Khamis).
  • Regulation of angiogenesis by VEGF signalling to ETS transcription factors (Birdsey).
  • Identification of therapeutic iron as a cause of endothelial injury, DNA damage and haemorrhage (Shovlin).
  • Cardiovascular disease in Sickle Cell disease, a genetic hemoglobinopathy (Gibbs).

Summary of current research


  • Autoantibodies against modified low density lipoproteins that protect against cardiovascular disease (Haskard).
  • The transcription factor ERG in endothelial lineage specification, angiogenesis and vascular homeostasis (Birdsey, Randi).
  • Von Willebrand Factor and disease (Randi).
  • Investigation of the regulation of endothelial protective pathways and optimisation of the management of large vessel vasculitis. (Mason).
  • Macrophage gene expression in atherosclerosis, focussing on AMPK-ATF1 and haemorrhage responses (Boyle).
  • Inflammation and vascular mechanisms in neurodegeneration (Scott).
  • Unmasking genomic and environmental causes of haemorrhage and thrombosis in hereditary hemorrhagic telangiectasia (Shovlin).
  • Cardiovascular disease in Sickle Cell disease, a genetic hemoglobinopathy (Gibbs).

View our recent publications


Our researchers