Housed in the Conrad Jobst Vascular Research Laboratory, the Wakefield Laboratory, led by Dr. Thomas W. Wakefield, has had a longstanding interest in investigating the connection between inflammation and venous thrombosis (VT). We are particularly interested in proteins known as selectins. A type of cell adhesion molecule, selectins help cells stick to one another and to surfaces in their environment. Selectins become upregulated in VT and, since white blood cells — important players in the inflammatory process — have selectin receptors on their surface, they slow down in the presence of selectins, attach to the inside lining of the vein and move into the vein wall and the growing clot.
The hypothesis that inflammation and thrombosis are related dates back to the 1970s. Our group was among the first to propose such a connection, and we have since made real strides in understanding the basic science and biological mechanisms at work when clots form. Our research is highly collaborative, and we work closely with investigators across the University of Michigan.