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Molecular Cardiology Research Institute (MCRI)

Vascular Biology Research Center

The Vascular Biology Research Center (VBRC) investigators work together to understanding the molecular underpinnings of healthy blood vessel function and how dysfunction develops that can lead to cardiovascular disease. The ultimate goal is to translate these fundamental discoveries into novel therapies to prevent or treat vascular diseases that contribute to heart attack, stroke, high blood pressure and other common cardiovascular conditions. The VBRC maintains a highly collaborative environment allowing investigators to share ideas, reagents, approaches, and models to bring a multidisciplinary approach to solving important unanswered questions in vascular biology in a highly translational context.

VBRC uses a wide range of approaches including state-of-the-art molecular biology, global genomic, proteomic, and epigenetic technologies, cell biology, whole vessel wire and pressure myography, sophisticated transgenic mice and in vivo animal models of vascular diseases.

VBRC laboratories are actively studying vascular mechanisms contributing to:

  • Vascular inflammation and atherosclerosis
  • Hypertension
  • the impact of risk factors on blood vessels including obesity, hyperlipidemia, and hypertension
  • Aortic aneurism formation and progression
  • Vein graft and stent failure
  • Pulmonary hypertension
  • Sex differences in cardiovascular disease
  • The impact of pregnancy complications on future vascular disease susceptibility
  • Vascular changes with normal and pathologic aging.

The VBRC maintains a highly collaborative environment allowing investigators to share ideas, reagents, approaches, and models to bring a multidisciplinary approach to solving important unanswered questions in vascular biology in a highly translational context. Application to human disease is central to the approach involving collaboration with clinicians to accelerate the development of biomarkers and new molecular targets for the diagnosis and treatment of vascular disease.

The Center Investigators hold faculty positions in the Tufts University School of Medicine graduate programs and regularly mentor Masters and PhD-level thesis students in Pharmacology, Genetics, Immunology, and Cell, Molecular and Developmental Biology as well as Post-doctoral Fellows seeking advanced training in vascular biology.

Iris Jaffe, MD, PhD

The primary focus of the Jaffe lab is to understand the molecular mechanisms underlying common vascular disorders including hypertension, vascular remodeling, and atherosclerosis with specific emphasis on the role of the renin-angiotensin-aldosterone system. The Jaffe laboratory demonstrated the presence of functional mineralocorticoid receptors (MR) in human vascular cells and is studying the role of vascular MR in cardiovascular function and disease. The lab uses in vitro molecular techniques in vascular cells, genome wide “omics” analyses of cardiovascular tissues, whole vessels studies of vascular function, and in vivo tissue-specific transgenic mouse models to study vascular structure, function, and responses to injury and atherogenic stimuli to identify the molecular mechanisms of vascular disease and identify novel treatment targets. 

Mary Wallingford, PhD
The research focus in the Wallingford Lab is development and pathophysiology of the placenta. The placenta contains highly specialized vasculature that mediates interaction between maternal and fetal circulatory systems during pregnancy. Impaired placental growth or function can have dire impact on maternal and fetal health. In the long-term, Dr. Wallingford aims to advance knowledge of placental development and assist in the development of early diagnostics and novel therapeutics for disorders of placental insufficiency or dysfunction. Specific areas of interest include maternal-fetal phosphate transport biology, morphogenetic analysis of placentation, and development of new approaches to assess vascular structure and function at the maternal-fetal interface.

Jennifer DuPont, PhD

Molecular Cardiology Research Institute 20th Anniversary logo

20 years of discovery

For the past 20 years, the investigators and research teams of the Molecular Cardiology Research Institute (MCRI) have continually translated basic findings into new clinical strategies for the diagnosis and treatment of cardiovascular disease.

Learn about our discoveries