Karen K. Hirschi, PhD
A primary interest of the Hirschi laboratory is to understand, at the cellular and molecular level, the events leading to blood and blood vessel formation. We are interested in elucidating regulators of endothelial cell commitment, differentiation, and specialization, as well as modulators of endothelial cell proliferation during blood vessel formation. We use the mouse model system to study vascular development in vivo (transgenesis), in situ (embryo culture) and in vitro (primary cell and co-culture systems). Information derived from the murine embryo model system is used to modulate the commitment of pluripotent human stem (hES, iPS) cells toward vascular and hematopoietic cell fates, and to understand the mechanisms that govern human vascular development. We aim to partner with clinical investigators to identify genetic mutations that cause fetal and neonatal vascular disorders, and also work with biomedical engineers to translate mechanisms of tissue morphogenesis into the creation of engineered vascularized tissues and bone marrow.