Vascular Biology

We are advancing vascular biology and vascular disease treatment.

Our Vascular Biology Research

Broad and deep expertise in vascular biology and surgery makes our research portfolio one the largest and most diverse of its kind. With over $2.5 million in research expenditures annually, our work is driving discoveries that transform how we understand and treat vascular disease. Whether a relatively common vascular condition, such as venous thrombosis or peripheral artery disease, to rare disorders like fibromuscular dysplasia, our goal is the same: To further our knowledge of vascular biology, disease and surgery so that we can improve clinical care and outcomes for patients worldwide. 

Our efforts span basic science and translational, clinical and health services research to medical device development. The impact of our work can be seen in frequently cited faculty publications and recognition with prestigious awards as well as in new approaches, technologies and procedures that are changing clinical practice. Our work also includes novel investigations and development of new and complex image-based cardiovascular models. These models of patient-specific blood flow help our clinicians identify the best approaches for surgical interventions. 

Conrad Jobst Vascular Research Laboratories

At the center of our research initiatives is the endowed Conrad Jobst Vascular Research Laboratories, a 4,900-square-foot, state-of-the-art facility that fosters collaboration to speed discovery.

Faculty laboratories within the Jobst Research Laboratories focus on a range of problems, including:

  • Identifying new targets for treating venous thrombosis (VT) — responsible for some 300,000 deaths annually in the United States alone — with lower-risk medications
  • The role of inflammation and cancer in VT
  • The role of e-cigarettes and epigenetics in aneurysm development

Visit our Faculty & Lab Directory for a list of all the centers, programs, labs, and independent investigators in the Department of Surgery.

Themes & Impact

Our faculty have been leading advances in vascular biology, disease and surgery. The work of our surgeon scientists is changing what we know about vascular biology and disease as well as how we care for our patients across a range of disease processes.

Vascular & Arterial Conditions

We have investigated many facets of venous and arterial thrombosis (VT), such as the role of inflammation—including the enzyme CD39—as well as the role of the plasminogen system, polyphosphates, sepsis, cancer and genetics, and the prevention of post-thrombotic syndrome. In addition, we developed new animal models of VT, which also have helped lead to identification of new therapeutic targets, including the selectin group of cell-adhesion molecules, and promising agents that will soon move into clinical trials. Our faculty members have identified key mechanisms underlying impaired wound healing in Type 2 diabetes, including the discovery of the role of the Ly6CHi macrophage as a key driver of persistent inflammation. Teams have also led investigations into the genetics of fibromuscular dysplasia, a rare but serious condition that causes narrowing of the arteries and can lead to high blood pressure, arterial tears or stroke.

Outcomes Research

Our team has generated new insights into patient decision-making with respect to peripheral artery disease. While decision analysis has been explored in other areas of medicine, our work is the first within the field of vascular surgery. First analyses of clinical data from The Vascular Quality Initiative Varicose Vein Registry to understand treatment effectiveness, drive clinical standards and influence related policy.

Devices & Techniques

We developed the minimally-invasive resuscitative endovascular balloon occlusion of the aorta, or REBOA, technique and catheter. Initially developed for use in the military theater to control hemorrhage, the REBOA catheter is now widely used in emergency rooms and Level 1 trauma centers. Our research also has led to the creation of innovative new products, such as a smartphone app for stroke detection and pressure-sensing socks to prevent diabetes-related lower-leg wounds. We have conducted award-winning device development work to assess and quantify frailty in vascular patients as well.

Partnerships & Collaborations

Vascular surgery faculty take part in and lead a range of consortia and collaborations. For example, the section is involved in the Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan Cardiovascular Consortium - Vascular Surgery initiative, which focuses on improving evidence-based care and outcomes for vascular patients, with Dr. Peter Henke serving as project director. We work closely with teams across the University of Michigan to advance our research, from the Department of Human Genetics at Michigan Medicine to the College of Engineering.

Training the Next Generation

Training, too, is integral to our research mission. For the past 15 years, the Section of Vascular Surgery has had a National Institutes of Health T32 training grant titled "Vascular Surgery: Research Training in Vascular Biology". One of few awarded nationwide, this coveted support ensures continued discovery by future vascular biology investigators. In fact, two of our current faculty have come through the program, which now has three pathways to reflect the diversity of our research initiatives: basic science and translational research, health services research and bioengineering. Going forward, the program will be open to post-doctoral researchers as well as medical doctors interested in vascular disease.