Endothelial-epithelial communication plays an essential role in organ development, tissue homeostasis, and regeneration across contexts. Identifying the factors that mediate these interactions will help us understand the role of the vasculature beyond delivery of oxygen and nutrients. Understanding these signaling interactions is especially important in the lung, where the interface between the alveolar epithelium and the capillary endothelium is critical for gas exchange with the external environment.
The Niethamer lab will use single-cell transcriptomics, mouse genetics, and ex vivo mouse and human tissue culture systems to answer fundamental questions about how lung endothelial fates are specified, how endothelial progenitor function is regulated, and how endothelial cell signaling contributes to building functional structures in the lung, including the gas exchange interface between the endothelium and epithelium in the alveolus.
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I am fascinated by endothelial cell biology in the lung, and my research will identify molecular and cell biological mechanisms these cells use to promote lung development and regeneration. My background in lung biology, developmental morphogenesis, cell biology, and cell signaling make me ideally suited to pursue this goal.
My graduate work expanded our understanding of the role of ephrin-B1 signaling in cell self-organization, tissue morphogenesis, and congenital disease. This ignited my enthusiasm for studying signaling mechanisms in cell behavior and morphogenesis during development and regeneration.
My postdoctoral work has defined the cellular composition of the pulmonary capillary endothelium and has begun to elucidate the functional role of endothelial heterogeneity in lung regeneration. I have also discovered an essential role for the transcription factor ATF3 in regeneration of both the capillary vasculature and alveolar structure. My future research will build on this work to determine the role of endothelial cell signaling in development and regeneration of the lung alveolus and its gas exchange function.