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Sarah J Childs


Associate Professor, Biochemistry & Molecular Biology; AHFMR Senior Scholar; Canada Research Chair (Tier II - Genetics / Angiogenesis); Heart & Stroke Foundation of Canada Scholar

(403) 220-8277

Rm 2223, Health Sciences Bldg
3330 Hospital Drive NW
Calgary, AB  T2N 4N1

Research Activities: 

Angiogenesis, using zebrafish as a model system

Current Research Interests:

We are taking a genetic approach to identify new genes involved in angiogenesis, the process by which new blood vessels develop. The cardiovascular system is critical for the survival of vertebrates, and is one of the earliest organ systems to develop in an embryo. Our experimental approach is to identify mutant animals with defects in cardiovascular development during embryogenesis, and then to clone the gene underlying each defect. We then examine the role of these genes in embryonic development and disease. Angiogenesis is altered in many diseases; for instance, it is increased during tumor growth and in diabetic retinopathy. In other cases, impaired angiogenesis can also lead to disease, for instance, in ischemia. The understanding of genes controlling blood vessel growth may therefore lead to new treatments for disease.

Zebrafish as a model system

Zebrafish are a common tropical fish that develop as transparent, externally fertilized embryos. We can observe their development during all stages of embryogenesis under a microscope, in contrast to mammals which develop in utero and are inaccessible. We use zebrafish as a model system because they are small, transparent, and their cardiovascular system develops very similarly to that of mammals. This allows us to do very detailed screens for subtle genetic defects. Each pair of zebrafish lays a large number of eggs each week. This greatly facilitates genetic analysis. Furthermore, as the zebrafish genome is sequenced, it is clear that essentially all of the known genes involved in the establishment of the early vascular system are conserved between fish and mammals.

Lab projects

In all projects, we take a genetic approach

  • Semaphorin- plexin signalling in vascular development
  • Relationship between neuronal and vascular development
  • Tissue regeneration and angiogenesis
  • Origins of vascular and visceral smooth muscle in zebrafish
  • Genetic pathways leading to vascular stabilization
  • Developing new transgenic lines for visualizing vascular development

[More Information]

  • Ph.D. (Doctor of Philosophy)
Administrative Assistant: 

Terri Connolly
Phone: 403.220.3018