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    The Canadian Critical Care Trials Group (CCCTG) is a national organization of more than 300 individuals with research interests in the management of the critically ill patient.
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University of Western Ontario



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Donald Welsh

Resistance arteries control the magnitude and distribution of tissue blood flow and these hollow organs are comprised of two key cell types. They include the smooth muscle cells that actively contract and the endothelial cells which line the interior of the blood vessel wall. My research focuses on the basis of vessel contractility and how ion channels and gap junctions (intercellular pores) control the electrical activity of smooth muscle/endothelial cells. We explore the basis of arterial contractility in both animals and humans using techniques that span from cells to whole organisms. They include:
1) Patch clamp electrophysiology to assess ion channel activity;
2) Pressure myography to measure arterial tone and membrane potential;
3) Western blotting to measure protein phosphorylation;
4) Confocal microscopy to ascertain Ca2+ dynamics/protein localization;
5) Multiphoton imaging of the cerebral vasculature; and
6) Computational modeling to quantitatively assess charge movement and Ca2+ dynamics.

My laboratory is currently funded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, Canadian Foundation for Innovation, Heart and Stroke Foundation and the Natural Science and Engineering Research Council of Canada. We pursue a range of engaging questions, many focused on vasculature and the basis of blood flow control in health and disease. They include:
1) Determining how mechanical forces such as pressure and flow are sensed by smooth muscle and endothelial cells, changing electrical activity and blood vessel tone;
2) Ascertaining how Ca2+ channels on the plasma membrane (L- and T-type) and the sarcoplasmic reticulum (ryanodine and IP3-receptors) govern arterial constriction;
3) Defining the nature of electrical and second messenger communication among smooth muscle and/or endothelial cells; and
4) Determining of impact of vascular disease (dyslipidemia, hypertension) impact the activity and expression of ion channels.