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Rosemary Akhurst, Ph.D.

Professor of Anatomy, Helen Diller Family Comprehensive Cancer Center, University of California San Francisco; Director of UCSF HDFCCC Preclinical Therapeutics Core Facility; Member of UCSF Institute of Human Genetics; Member of UCSF Eli and Edythe Broad Center of Regeneration Medicine and Stem Cell Research; Member of UCSF Biomedical Science Program; Member of UCSF Developmental Stem Cell Biology Program.


Research Interests: Signaling pathway regulation of vascular stability and remodeling; genetic disorders of the TGFB/BMP signaling pathways; arteriovenous malformations; tumor microenvironment; endothelial-immune cell cross talk; in vivo preclinical therapeutics.

NAVBO Activities: Member since 2005; Councilor – 2016-2019; Meritorious Awards Committee – 2015-2018; Co-Organizer – International Vascular Biology Meeting 2022. Active participant in Vascular Biology and IVBM meetings as attendee, speaker, and session chair.

Related Experience: Committee Member British Society of Developmental Biology 1996-1997; Committee Member AHA undergraduate summer scholarship program, 2006-2009; Host and moderator for AHA undergraduate annual round table discussions, 2007-2009; AACR Annual Scientific Program Committee Member (Tumor Microenvironment), 2010 and 2013-2015; Charter member, NHLBI Vascular Cell and Molecular Biology Study Section, 2011-2017; Vice-Chair, Global Research and Medical Advisory Board of Cure HHT 2019-present; Organizer of 14th International HHT Scientific Conference, 2022.

Vision for NAVBO

I trained in biochemistry, cancer biology and developmental biology in the UK and USA and have held faculty positions both sides of the Atlantic. I am a strong believer that lessons learned in one field inform others and my research encompasses both vascular and cancer biology.

My fascination with vascular biology began decades ago, when my lab discovered the essential role played by TGF-beta signaling in vascular development of the mouse embryo. As the years have gone by, I have become increasingly committed to the translational applications of our research, while retaining a keen interest in curiosity driven basic science. As such, I am a strong supporter of high-quality basic research in vascular biology, for which NAVBO is renowned. I feel that this is especially important during the trainee period for development of strong foundations on which to build, As President of NAVBO I would also nurture fearlessness in incorporating alternative technological and conceptual approaches to vascular biology research, by encouraging cross-cutting interdisciplinary collaboration. To catalyse such interactions and break down barriers between disciplines, I would encourage integrated rather than siloed sessions at Vascular Biology conferences, interdisciplinary networking gatherings, and “Thinking outside the box forums.” I envisage discussion forums to address the problems met in promoting interdisciplinary research in North America, in terms of infrastructure, funding incentives, and recognition for team science.

I recognize the need to recruit the brightest and best into vascular biology research by piquing science interest at a young age and breaking down social barriers to entry. My lab has hosted talented high school students who have gone on to careers in STEM. I have also contributed to promoting diversity in research by serving on the selection committee for the UCSF undergraduate Summer Research Training Program (SRTP) to increase involvement of individuals from under-represented groups (URG) in research. My lab has hosted URG scientists at all career levels (undergraduate, post-baccalaureate, post-doctoral), funded through diversity supplements to NIH grants and through the University of California Presidential Postdoctoral Fellowship Program. I would continue and expand NAVBO’s existing efforts in these areas, providing visibility and access to resources that promote and fund programs to accelerate recruitment of talented and committed scientists to the field, regardless of gender, race, ethnicity, disability, religion, or sexual orientation.