Welcome to the Berk Lab
The mission of the Berk laboratory is to investigate the mechanisms by which cells in the vessel wall respond to environmental, cellular, and other stimuli (e.g., hormones, matrix, local and circulating proteins) to cause vascular dysfunction. The goal is to characterize how changes in endothelial cell (EC), inflammatory cell, and vascular smooth muscle cell (VSMC) gene expression contribute to human diseases such as aneurysms, atherosclerosis, hypertension, nerve damage, and stroke. The causative mechanisms are studied using human and animal genetics, bioinformatics, advanced imaging, cell biology, biochemistry and molecular biology. Furthermore, to reveal and understand disease phenotypes transgenic mouse models are exposed to physiologic stresses such as exercise and hypoxia, as well as pathophysiologic stresses such as air pollution, disturbed blood flow, hyperlipidemia, high blood pressure, and injury. We focus on identifying the cell signaling mechanisms altered by these stresses to identify candidate molecules for future therapies.