Aly Karsan Lab

Research in the Karsan laboratory is centred around the biology of endothelial cells. Our long-term goals are to investigate various molecular and cellular aspects of how the endothelium contributes to the development of the cardiovascular system in normal and pathological development. Within this large area we have several areas of interest related to angiogenesis, endothelial apoptosis; and the contribution of endothelial precursor cells to vascular development.

Within the context of the mouse organogenesis project we are interested in the transcriptional networks that regulate cardiac valve formation. Cardiac malformations are the most frequent type of congenital birth defects, present in ~1% of newborns. Cardiac valves and portions of the membranous septa arise from mesenchymal outgrowths referred to as cardiac cushions that develop in the atrioventricular canal and the ventricular outflow tract. The mesenchymal cells within the cardiac cushions are derived from cardiac endothelial (endocardial) cells that undergo mesenchymal transformation as they invade the underlying matrix located between the endocardial and myocardial layers. The progressive growth and eventual fusion of the atrioventricular and ventricular outflow tract endocardial cushions is of critical importance to normal embryonic heart development. Failure to do so results in valvular heart defects. Our major focus will be to understand the process of endothelial-to-mesenchymal transformation during cardiac development.


Aly Karsan, MD

project Co-applicant


Senior Scientist, Medical Biophysics, BC Cancer Agency.

Professor of Pathology, University of British Columbia.

Health Research Scholar - Michael Smith Foundation for Health Research.

CIHR Clinician-Scientist (1993-2003).

Yangxin Fu, Ph.D.

Research Associate

Dr. Yangxin Fu joined the Medical Biophysics Department in 2004 as a Research Associate. He interested in the interaction between NOTCH and TGFβ signaling in endothelial cells. For the MORGEN project, his primary focus is the construction of ChIP-SAGE libraries of various heart tissues.

Alex Chang, B.Sc.

Grad Student

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Alex is a graduate student who joined the Karsan lab in 2006. He is involved in tissue collection of various stages and cell populations during heart development. Alex also has a major focus in data validation and functional analysis.

Michelle Ly, B.Sc.

Research Assistant

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Michelle is a technician who joined the Karsan lab in 2007 and is involved in tissue collection and processing and in vivo validation experiments.