Watts Lab moves forward with NIH-funded research on Perivascular Adipose Tissue


The Michigan State University College of Osteopathic Medicine (MSUCOM) introduced Stephanie Watts, Ph.D., a leading researcher in the Michigan State University College of Osteopathic Medicine, and her team in January after receiving a $13.5 million National Institutes of Health (NIH) grant to study Perivascular Adipose Tissue (PVAT) as a central integrator of vascular health. Much work is happening as the research team moves forward and Project I of the Program Project Grant (PPG) is the team’s current focus.

As a reminder or for those new to this PPG, it is based on the “overall hypothesis that perivascular adipose tissue (PVAT) has bidirectional interactions with the other layers of a blood vessel and is a critical partner with these layers to form an integrated system that maintains vascular health.”

Like constructing a building or system, the researchers are developing a solid foundation for the five-year research program. The team is currently studying the PVAT tissue to learn more about how blood vessels work, and redefining what that means for all people.

“We’re redefining blood vessels, especially for blood pressure, and taking a look at the arteries and veins, the system that keeps the body running,” Watts said.

As is stated on the PVAT PPG website, “Vascular health is essential to the normal regulation of cardiovascular function. The fact that dysfunctions of blood pressure regulation, such as hypertension, remain difficult to treat suggests that the scientific community does not fully understand the mechanisms by which normal and pathological changes in blood pressure are achieved, nor how the vasculature can both influence and be impacted by changes in blood pressure.”

The team is redefining what is in the cardiovascular system, building a cell atlas that in the future could be used to create a tool to help people think about the vascular system in a new way.

Learn more at the PVAT PPG website.