Dr. Peter Oettgen is a member of the Cardiology Division at the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center. He is the Director of Preventive Cardiology. His research interests include blood vessel development and angiogenesis. His laboratory is located at the Harvard Institutes of Medicine. His research laboratory is interested in understanding the molecular mechanisms required for the regulation of blood vessel development and vascular inflammation.
One approach used in the laboratory to understanding these biological processes is to identify the transcription factors that act as master switches for these processes. A particular focus has been on the role of one family of transcription factors known as the Ets transcription factor family. Several vascular-specific genes have conserved binding sites for the Ets factors in their genomic regulatory regions. We have identified the specific members of the Ets factor family that regulate the vascular specific tyrosine kinase genes Tie1 and Tie2. These Ets factors are enriched in developing blood vessels during embryogenesis. The identification of the critical transcription factors required for vascular development will promote the development of novel regulators of angiogenesis and endothelial differentiation.
Another area of interest within the laboratory is vascular inflammation. Vascular inflammation is associated with several human diseases. We have identified a transcription factor which is induced very early on in the process of vascular inflammation, and which may help serve as one of the master switches for mediating this process. One of the targets for this factor is an enzyme called nitric oxide synthase, which produces nitric oxide, and important regulator of blood vessel tone and normal function.
Relationship to aging research: Vascular aging has recently been demonstated to be an inflammatory process. Many of the molecular mechanisms identified in regulating vascular inflammation in diseases also apply to the process of vascular aging. It has also been demonstrated that the ability to generate and mobilize endothelial progenitor cells (EPCs) diminishes with aging. A bether understanding of the molecular mechanisms of endothelial differentiation may provide better ways to increase EPCs in the setting of vascular injury or myocardial injury.
Postdoctoral training: Postdoctoral candidates entering the laboratory would be expected to gain basic training in molecular biology, with a particular emphasis on gene transcription. In addition training in stem cell differentiation, and the use of animal models of vascular development and vascular inflammation would be used to study the role of particular transcription factors. Postdoctoral fellows would be expected to attend weekly laboratory meetings, and monthly seminars in vascular biology at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center.