Studying cardiovascular pathobiology
Scientists in the Cardiovascular Pathobiology Program conduct research on fundamental and early translational aspects of cardiovascular biology, physiology, and disease. High blood pressure (hypertension), heart injury, and diabetes all lead to a thickening and weakening of the heart muscle, leading to fibrosis and progressive dilatation of the ventricles. Similarly, hypertension, smoking, high cholesterol levels, and diabetes can all contribute to atherosclerosis and heart attack. Distinct signatures of the underlying disease processes may exist at the cellular level, but it is often difficult to point to a specific reason for heart failure and vascular disease. This is especially true in obese or diabetic patients, given that high blood pressure and heart disease together with metabolic disturbances often coexist. Moreover, in certain diseases, such as chronic kidney disease (CKD), diabetes and/or hypertension are caught up in a “perfect storm” of blood-vessel inflammation and destruction, driven by systemic changes in phosphate and mineral metabolism. These changes drive arteriosclerotic calcification and the risk of stroke, heart attack, congestive heart failure, lower extremity amputation, and sudden death.