Research Opportunity: Mouse models of human aortic aneurysm and dissection

Con­tact Name: David Dichek

Con­tact Email: ddichek[at]

Depart­ment: Medicine/Cardiology


Signaling by transforming growth factor-β (TGF- β) is critical for normal cardiovascular development.  However, the role of TGF-β signaling in the adult vasculature is less well understood.  Available evidence supports roles for TGF-β signaling both in maintaining normal vascular structure and in causing vascular disease, including aortic aneurysms and dissections.  We are using mice with inducible loss of a key TGF-β signaling molecule to investigate the contributions of TGF-β signaling to aortic health and disease and to identify the pathways through which TGF-β signaling alters aortic structure and function. Our long-term goal is to discover therapeutic targets for molecular interventions that can be applied in patients at risk for aortic aneurysms and dissections.

Student Responsibilities: For this project the student would be involved in genotyping experimental animals, analyzing gene expression through quantitative PCR and protein expression through western blotting, as well as preparing tissue samples, sectioning and staining, and analyzing data.  The student would also be expected to help with laboratory maintenance tasks.  He/she will also learn the scientific method and learn basic concepts of molecular biology and animal models of disease. 10-15 hours per week is expected.


High academic accomplishments, excellent manual dexterity, reliability and punctuality, attention to detail, excellent record-keeping skills, an ability to work well with others, good communication skills, an ability to follow directions closely but to also think independently and make suggestions for improvements.  Preference is given to freshmen and sophomores because of the potential for these students to continue to work in the laboratory for multiple years, and gradually move towards more independent work.

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