A large component of our efforts are devoted to understanding mechanisms guiding the formation of blood and lymphatic vessels. The optical clarity and genetic and experimental accessibility of zebrafish make this a superb model organism for these studies. Our laboratory pioneered many of the key tools and resources used for vascular biology research in the zebrafish, including the widely used confocal microangiography method, a comprehensive atlas of the anatomy of the developing zebrafish vasculature, numerous vascular-specific transgenic fish lines, and methods for high resolution in vivo time-lapse imaging of zebrafish blood vessels. We have used these and other tools and resources to make a variety of seminal discoveries in the areas of vascular specification, differentiation, and patterning, including a novel pathway regulating arterial identity, a role for neuronal guidance factors in vascular patterning, a mechanism for vascular lumen formation in vivo, and identification and characterization of a lymphatic vascular system in the zebrafish. Cardiovascular-associated mortality is the leading cause of death in the western world, and many of the developmental processes we study are important in human congenital and acquired vascular diseases, as well as in cancer, heart disease, and ischemia.
Our laboratory has also recently developed an interest in studying the "genetics of epigenetics.” We have discovered novel epigenetic mechanisms regulating hematopoietic development and eye development, and we are currently carrying out the first large-scale forward-genetic screen in a vertebrate for tissue-specific epigenetic regulators using a novel transgenic reporter. This highly successful ongoing screen has resulted in the identification of a large number of new vertebrate epigenetic regulators, which we are now in the process of further characterizing and studying.
Additional information on our current research directions can be found here.
The Weinstein Laboratory is located in the intramural program of the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD), at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in Bethesda, Maryland. The NIH Bethesda campus is located just outside Washington, D. C., and is the largest biomedical research institution in the world, with approximately 1200 principal investigators. See here for more information on the NIH.
IMAGE: The confocal microangiography (intravascular injection of fluorescent dyes followed by confocal imaging) image above shows a lateral view of a 7 dpf whole zebrafish larva. The confocal microangiography technique was used by the Weinstein lab to compile a comprehensive atlas of vascular anatomy for the developing zebrafish.