Elaborate networks of tubes carry essential nutrients, waste and other materials throughout all metazoan organisms. I am interested in the formation of the tubes that comprise the vascular system, the blood vessels, which are lined by a specialised layer of epithelial cells called the endothelium.
My research aims to characterise the molecular and cellular mechanisms that drive tube formation during angiogenesis, the development of new blood vessels from the existing vasculature. I am investigating the distinct roles of SNARE proteins, phosphoinositides and intercellular junction proteins in membrane trafficking events leading to luminal membrane differentiation and endothelial cell tube formation in vitro. Key control factors identified in the culture system are tested for physiological relevance using an in vivo angiogenesis assay. The long-term goal of the work is to provide a description of the cellular mechanics underlying angiogenesis in order to better understand cardiovascular disease and pathological angiogenesis in cancer.