Brass Lab

All About Us

Why study blood clotting?
 
We study the biological events of hemostasis and thrombosis. The price that all of us pay for having a closed, high pressure circulatory system is that leaks can kill us, as can the interruption of blood flow to key tissues and organs. Hemostasis is the physiological process that tries to stop bleeding when it occurs. The accumulation of platelets and fibrin is key to the hemostatic response. Thrombosis is the pathologic process in which the accumulation of platelets and fibrin in the wrong place at the wrong time, interrupts blood flow and starves tissues of oxygen and nutrients. Millions of people worldwide are disabled or killed by heart attacks and strokes.
 
What do we do?
 
Our studies combine experimental, observational and computational approaches to understand the role of blood platelets in hemostasis and thrombosis. Increasingly, this means using a systems approach to combine data on the platelet signaling network with emerging ideas about platelet activation as it occurs in the complex environment found in vivo. Our goals include understanding how the platelet signaling network is regulated during the hemostatic response to injury and provides a flexible basis for supporting and limiting platelet activation in different regions of the vasculature and different microenvironments within a growing thrombus. The results we have obtained show that regional differences in platelet activation result in a characteristically thrombus architecture in which a core of fully-activated, closely-packed platelets is overlaid by a shell of less-activated, less stable platelets. One of our goals is to understand how these regional differences arise and how they are affected by antiplatelet agents. Our work in meeting these goals makes considerable use of high resolution confocal and multiphoton intravital imaging in mouse models and observation of platelet behavior under flow in microfluidics devices to produce data that can be modeled in silico for hypothesis development and testing.
 
Who are we?
 
Our lab is jointly overseen by Drs. Brass and Stalker. At any given time the crew includes a diverse group of energetic and, in some cases, quirky, staff scientists, postdocs, graduate students, medical students, undergrads and (on occasion) high school students. Jie Wu is our lab manager and chief technician. Lauren Barrett is our administrative assistant, program manager for the lab and for the Hematology Research training Program, and course administrator for Topics in Molecular Medicine, Case Studies in Translational Research and Platelet Club (she has a lot of titles). You can read more about some of us by clicking on the buttons to the left of this screen.
 
Who supports our work?
 
Research and training support for our work principally comes from the NIH Heart Lung and Blood Institute, from the American Heart Association and sometimes from corporate sponsors. We thank them all for their help and encouragement. Additional donations will be gratefully received.

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