Activation of notch signaling pathway in the vasculature

Endothelial cells are a thin layer of cells that line blood and lymph vessels. They play a number of essential and complex roles within the body including acting as a selective barrier to the passage of molecules and cells between the blood and the surrounding bodily tissue. Angiogenesis, the process in which new vessels grow from original vessels, requires endothelial cell growth. Angiogenesis occurs in physiological processes such as wound-healing and menstruation. Malfunctions in angiogenesis – when new blood vessels either grow excessively or insufficiently – can result in serious diseases such as cancer, rheumatoid arthritis, coronary heart disease and stroke. Linda Ya-Ting Chang is studying the mechanism that controls endothelial growth and differentiation – the Notch signalling pathway. By blocking endogenous (originating internally) Notch signaling, she is investigating the response of endothelial cells to stress-induced programmed cell death (apoptosis). Linda is also studying the molecular interactions between the two components of the Notch pathway (the receptors and the ligands) during programmed cell death to determine the important molecular players in the process. The results from Linda’s research will enhance understanding of the process of angiogenesis and may lead to new therapeutic methods for vascular-related diseases.