The Weinstein Lab at NIH
The Weinstein Lab is a part of the Laboratory of Molecular Genetics (LMG) in the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD), one of the institutes comprising the National Institutes of Health (NIH) The laboratory is located on the NIH main campus in Bethesda, Maryland, a few miles outside of Washington, D.C.
We study the embryonic origins of the vertebrate vascular system, using the zebrafish. Genetic and experimental analysis of the formation of this early-developing, essential organ system is difficult in most vertebrates, but the zebrafish offers important advantages for these studies. We make full use of these advantages in our research, which is aimed at understanding what guides the specification, differentiation, patterning, and morphogenesis of blood vessels during embryogenesis.
Studies of vascular development have tremendous potential medical relevance. Circulatory system-associated mortality is the leading cause of death in the western world. Many of the developmental processes we study are important in human congenital and acquired vascular diseases, and some of the mutations we have already characterized model known human congenital disorders. Recently, there has also been tremendous interest in using antiangiogenic therapies to combat cancer by "starving" tumors of their blood supply. Proangiogenic therapies also show promise for treating or preventing limb and cardiovascular ischemia. Many of the proteins being targeted for these therapies are the same ones that play major roles in developmental blood vessel formation. and developmental studies such as those carried out in our laboratory will likely unearth additional medically useful molecules. Furthermore, understanding how these genes act in their normal developmental contexts will be an important in instructing whether and how they are to be used in therapeutic settings.