Obesity is an increasingly challenging problem worldwide. During the expansion of adipose tissue, impaired vascular remodeling promotes hypoxia and inflammation resulting in increasing occurrence of obesity-related disorders. Therefore, malfunctional blood vessels have become clinically recognized as a life-threatening incidence for human health. Dysfunctional endothelial cells (ECs) may differ from healthy ECs in e.g. immune-modulatory properties, and depending on the microenvironment, they might possess the ability to control the immune reaction and accelerate the progression of a disease. Given the emerging importance of understanding the heterogeneity of ECs, by applying a multidisciplinary approach, this project aims to provide a characterization of ECs heterogeneity in adipose tissue (in obese vs. lean patients) and to provide the answers on what kind of impact the microenvironment represented by the obese state has on the health and dysfunction of ECs. These questions, which have thus far not been answered, are exciting and important for human health. In addition, these answers to will create novel therapeutic opportunities for patients with obesity-related disorders.
Joanna Kalucka is an Assistant Professor and an AIAS-COFUND Fellow. She holds a Ph.D. in Molecular Biology from TU Dresden, Germany Graduate of the International Max Planck Research School in Cell Biology and Genetics in Dresden, Germany. Prior to being appointed in Aarhus, Joanna was awarded a Postdoctoral Fellowship from the Research Foundation Flanders to pursue a project on endothelial cell metabolism in health and disease at the Catholic University of Leuven, Belgium. Her involvement in the venture resulted in advancing our understanding of endothelial cell biology. The project she is working on at AIAS addresses further relevant issues in the fields of endothelial cell biology and obesity.