Professor Qingbo Xu MBBS MD PhD
BHF John Parker Chair of Cardiovascular Science
BHF Centre of Regenerative Medicine
Vascular Biology Section
Department of Cardiology
James Black Centre
125 Coldharbour Lane
London SE5 9NU
Personal Assistant - Sherrie King
Tel: 020 7848 5295
Professor Xu qualified in Medicine at Peking Union Medical College and then went on to work as a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Innsbruck Medical School in Austria. As a Forgarty fellow he spent two years at the Laboratory of Biological Chemistry, National Institutes of Health, USA. He was appointed Professor in Cardiovascular Science at St George’s Hospital in 2000 and then to the BHF John Parker Chair of Cardiovascular Sciences at King’s College London in 2006. He has a prominent international profile in vascular biology as evidenced by his numerous invited lectures at national and international scientific meetings, chairing of many research conferences, service on the editorial boards of eminent journals (e.g. Consulting Editor, the American Heart Association Journal ATVB), and membership on national and international committees. He is also an editor of the widely used guide ‘Handbook of Mouse Models of Cardiovascular Disease’. He has an excellent record of training research scientists, several of whom have progressed to distinguished independent careers throughout the world. Professor Xu’s original work has contributed significantly to atherosclerosis research as indicated by his publication list, which includes many highly cited papers. Professor Xu was awarded the Austrian Cardinal Prize for Medicine in 1993 and the Rokitansky Prize for Pathology in 1995, as well as several visiting professorships.
- Stem/progenitor cells in atherosclerosis
- Transgenic mouse models
- Signal transduction and gene expression
- Stem cells
- The pathogenesis of atherosclerosis
- Vascular biology
- Animal models
- Signal transduction
The Vascular Biology Section is a basic science research group. It undertakes a wide range of research in the field of cardiovascular diseases with the broad objective of improving the understanding of molecular mechanisms in the pathogenesis and the treatment of cardiovascular disease. The overarching aim of our study is to elucidate the molecular mechanisms underlying cardiovascular diseases, especially stem cells and atherosclerosis. In keeping with this, several research projects are carried out in the group as follows:
Stem/progenitor cells and atherosclerosis
Recent evidence indicates that stem/progenitor cells play a crucial role in the development of atherosclerosis and heart disease. Using mouse models, Professor Xu’s group has demonstrated that both endothelial cells and smooth muscle cells within atherosclerotic lesions of vein grafts and allografts are derived from stem/progenitor cells. His group has found that abundant stem/progenitor cells exist in the arterial adventitia. His team is studying the contribution of stem/progenitor cells to the pathogenesis of atherosclerosis, clarifying the mechanisms of stem cell differentiation into endothelial and smooth muscle cells, and testing a potential use of stem cell therapy for vascular disease.
The mechanism of stem cell differentiation
Through cell culture and chick embryonic studies, our group has found that several crucial genes localised in the nucleus play a key role in the mechanisms of stem cell differentiation. These studies aim to clarify how a stem cell becomes a vascular cell, i.e. a signal pathway from stimulation to cell nucleus response. These molecules could also be considered as a target for promoting blood vessel formation, which could be a new drug target.
Vascular tissue engineering
A new bioreactor to generate artificial blood vessels has been established and improved recently. This equipment allows us to create a blood vessel using stem cell-derived vascular cells more effectively. Three steps are required to create a blood vessel: 1) culturing stem cells and differentiating the cells to vascular progenitors, 2) preparing scaffold, and 3) re-popularising of the vessel scaffold by way of progenitor cells to form artificial blood vessels. Our study found that it is crucial to have good endothelial function in order for the vessel to have a function. This vessel is now well prepared ex vivo in our laboratory. Our aim is to create a functional blood vessel using stem cells.
Mouse models of vessel grafts
Professor Xu and his co-workers have established the first mouse model of vein graft atherosclerosis. The features of this mouse vascular graft model resemble those of human venous bypass graft atheroma. His model has been used in the study of the pathogenesis and treatment of the vein graft disease as well as grafting of tissue engineered vessels. Recently, his group has generated blood vessels using stem cells and grafted them into the carotid artery of mice. Some grafts were survived for a considerable time. Using the specialist equipment, the function of the grafted vessels was monitored; this showed the patency of the vessel. The group is studying both the pathogenesis and functions of the grafted vessels in the model.
Senior Research Fellow
- Dr H Cai
- Dr L Jacquet
- Dr E Karamariti
- Dr A Le Bras
- Dr C Potter
- Dr R Simpson
- Dr M Wong
- Miss X Hong
- Miss B Yu (joint with Queen Mary University)
- Miss X Wang (joint with Queen Mary University)
- Ms Shirin Issa Bhaloo