2011 Research Grant Recipient

In Vivo Cell Biology Approach to Defining the Natural History of HHT-Associated AVMs

Roman, Beth - Researcher

Beth Roman, PhD
University of Pittsburgh

The HHT Foundation is pleased to announce that Beth Roman, Ph.D. from the University of Pittsburgh has been awarded a $45,000 grant for her research entitled "In Vivo Cell Biology Approach to Defining the Natural History of HHT-Associated AVMs".

Dr. Roman received her Ph.D. in Environmental Toxicology from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and performed postdoctoral studies in zebrafish vascular development at the National Institutes of Health. She is currently an Assistant Professor in the Department of Biological Sciences at the University of Pittsburgh, where her research is focused on defining the molecular and cellular errors that give rise to arteriovenous malformations (AVMs).

The goal of Dr. Roman's laboratory research is to understand the molecular and cellular errors that lead to HHT-associated arteriovenous malformations (AVMs). The tool that she will use for this purpose is a small, unassuming freshwater fish that swims happily in many home aquaria: the zebrafish.  Using a zebrafish model of HHT2, which harbors a mutation in alk1 and develops embryonic AVMs at a predictable time and location, Dr. Roman's laboratory has recently described a novel two-step mechanism for HHT-associated AVM development.  Her results suggest to us that the function of ALK1 is to regulate the caliber of newly-formed arteries, and that in the absence of ALK1, AVMs arise secondarily to arterial enlargement and represent a well intentioned but ill-fated attempt by the vasculature to accommodate increased blood flow.

"This exciting and innovative research will allow us to understand the natural history of AVM development which is necessary for drug development and an eventual cure for HHT," states Marianne Clancy, Executive Director of the HHT Foundation International, Inc.  Dr. Roman is very excited to begin her study. She tells the HHT Foundation that, "I am honored to have been chosen and I am confident that results will provide novel insight into the cellular behaviors that lead to AVMs, which in turn will help to direct efforts to develop HHT therapeutics."

Research Final Report by Beth Roman

The HHT Foundation is grateful for the anonymous donor who contributed the money to make this very important research possible.