Heart disease remains the most prevalent chronic disease in the developed world and therefore novel clinical approaches are desperately needed to improve patient outcomes. Cardiac muscle is under continual stress to efficiently pump 5 to 7 liters of blood around the body every minute. To support this demand the cardiac tissue requires its own specialized vascular system. Obstruction or malformation of the cardiac vasculature results in irreversible tissue damage and compromised heart function often with fatal consequences.
Unlike the human heart, zebrafish have the capacity to regenerate heart tissue. This allows us to study both the development of the cardiac vasculature development and how this vasculature supports heart regeneration. Advancing our understanding of the factors that encourage the formation of cardiac vasculature and signals derived from it during tissue repair will highlight new concepts in regenerative medicine.
During his postdoc, Dr Harrison published the first description of zebrafish coronary vessel development and highlighted the role of chemokine signaling in this process. He then went on to characterize the development of the cardiac lymphatic vasculature in zebrafish and demonstrated its role in reducing scar size after injury. A key feature of Dr Harrison’s work is developing novel techniques to culture and live image zebrafish hearts, which he uses in conjunction with genetic models to enable him to dissect the cues driving vascularization and vascular mediation of heart regeneration at the tissue- and molecular-level.
Education and Training:
* Ph.D in Developmental Genetics, University of Sheffield, United Kingdom. 2010
* BSc. with First class Honors in Biological Science (Genetics), University of Edinburgh, Scotland. 2005