Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland Coláiste Ríoga na Máinleá in Éirinn

Vascular Biology

Vascular disease arises from dysregulation of blood vessels and components of the blood. Our research is focused on determining how this occurs and using these insights to develop new diagnostic tests and treatments.

The vasculature plays a central role in the pathogenesis of a broad spectrum of human diseases including cardiovascular disease (CVD), diabetes, obesity, tumor growth and metastasis, and severe infectious diseases. CVD alone constitutes the most prevalent cause of death in Ireland. Diseases of the heart and circulatory system are the leading cause of mortality in Europe as a whole, where they are responsible for >3.9 million deaths a year. In view of the increasing age profile and obesity levels in Europe, these numbers are likely to increase significantly. Consequently, greater understanding of vascular disease pathophysiology and the design of novel therapeutic approaches remains an urgent and unmet clinical need.

To address this, the Irish Centre for Vascular Biology (ICVB) was formed in 2017 at RCSI to act as a national research hub to facilitate world-class research between researchers, clinicians and industry partners working within the vascular biology disease space. Within MCT, we investigate the function and interaction of endothelial cells, platelets and blood plasma proteins, as well as dysregulated vascular growth and remodeling, to generate novel insights into disease pathophysiology.

The numerous interactions of the vascular system with pathogens, immune cells and cancer cells, allows the seamless integration with other MCT research pillars.

Specific research in this area includes:  

  • Role of platelets in innate immunity, biomarkers of plaque rupture, development of inhibitors of FcγRIIa (Prof. Dermot Cox)
  • Investigating the nature of and developing novel therapies for the treatment of the dysregulation in vascular endothelial cell function following a bloodstream infection or sepsis (Prof. Steve Kerrigan)
  • Understanding the mechanisms of thrombosis to advance clinical diagnostics (Prof. Dermot Kenny)
  • Understanding changing parameters of platelet secretory responses in diverse clinical scenaria (Prof. Niamh Moran)
  • Investigating the cross-talk between coagulation and inflammation and understanding the molecular mechanism underpinning hereditary bleeding disorders; von Willebrand Disease and Haemophilia (Prof. James O’Donnell)
  • Elucidating the role of macrophages and their receptors in contributing to the biology underlying von Willebrand Disease with an aim to guiding the development of new replacement therapies (Dr Jamie O’Sulllivan)
  • Engineering plasma proteins and receptors to generate new therapeutics for treatment of haematological and inflammatory disease (Dr Roger Preston)
  • Exploring the role of FKBPL in diseases associated with aberrant angiogenesis and vascular dysfunction; diagnostic and therapeutic applications (Prof. Tracy Robson)
  • Exploring the mechanobiology of platelet-mediated thrombosis using advanced microscopy techniques to develop new diagnostics (Dr Ingmar Schoen)
  • Evaluating dietary and genetic influences on micronutrient deficiencies and excesses with adverse consequences for cardiovascular physiology, followed by precision medicine/nutritional trials towards optimal cardiovascular health (Prof. Alice Stanton)