The Center for Molecular Medicine is comprised of laboratories studying basic mechanisms of human disease. Basic laboratory research addresses cellular and molecular signaling mechanisms, and develops new models to understand medical problems. Our discoveries are used to consider new diagnostic or therapeutic opportunities related to our mission of patient care.

Cardiovascular Biology


Potential therapeutic effects of augmented neuregulin-1 signaling

Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death in our country and globally, accounting for about 1 in 3 deaths in America. Over 85 million Americans are living with some form of cardiovascular disease or recovering from stroke. This is a worldwide problem, as heart disease is the number 1 cause of death in the world for both men and women. One of our early research centers was developed to address the causes and basic cellular mechanisms and physiology related to multiple types of cardiovascular disease. Research studies range from understanding the development of the heart and blood vessel system during embryogenesis, stem cells that give rise to cells of the cardiovascular system, angiogenesis in response to tumors or wound healing, and diseases of the heart and blood vessels, such as heart failure, myocardial ischemia, and vascular obstructive diseases.

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Cancer Biology & Therapeutics

Imaging and quantification of tumor angiogenesis using microCT

Cancer covers a broad spectrum of disease that can affect virtually all tissues in the body. The American Cancer Society estimates that in 2015, there will be over 1.6 million individuals diagnosed with some form of cancer, with an estimated 0.5 million deaths annually. Our researchers address multiple aspects of cancer diagnosis and tumor progression, including angiogenesis, and the effects of the tumor stroma. In addition, we have an active tissue bank representing thousands of tumor specimens from a variety of cancers that are available for research us.

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Stem and Progenitor Cell Biology

Left: Erythroid progenitor cells from bone marrow  Right: ErbB in human myocardial progenitor cells

A key to understanding cellular function is to understand how mature cells develop from progenitor or stem cells. Stem or progenitor cells have the capacity to become multiple cell types normally during development, but can become diseased, leading to cancers that grow uncontrollably. In addition, our ability to understand the process by which a stem/progenitor cell becomes a mature cell will assist in regenerative medicine applications.

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Developmental Biology and Organogenesis

Developmental biology is the study of how cells, organs, and tissue systems develop and mature. Genetic mutations or dysregulation of signaling during embryonic development can lead to birth defects. Our researchers are interested in the development and maturation of the cardiovascular system, skeletal system, nervous system, kidney, blood cells, and adipose tissues.

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Metabolic and Hormonal Regulation

Diet-induced changes in bone marrow adiposity

Metabolic syndrome is a major health problem, due to many factors, including the prevalence of obesity. Our research addresses the genetic basis of obesity and diabetes, and overall regulators of metabolic health. In addition to adipose tissue, the skeleton, hormonal systems, and liver are organs that actively regulate metabolism and body homeostasis. Our research spans these systems to understand the pathogenesis of diseases including obesity, osteoporosis, hormone imbalance, and diabetes.

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