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Lung Biology Center
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Thiennu H. Vu, MD, PhD
Assistant Professor of Medicine
University of California San Francisco
UCSF Box 2911
phone: (415) 514-4266
fax: (415) 514-4365
additional websites:
Pulmonary and Critical Care

Dr. Vu received her M.D. and Ph.D. from the University of California, San Francisco in 1991 after completion of the Medical Scientist Training Program. She completed a Residency in Internal Medicine at the University of California, San Diego and a Fellowship in Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine at UCSF. Besides engaging in basic research, she also practices clinical medicine, serving as attending physician in the Chest clinic and on the Pulmonary Consult Service and the medical ICU at San Francisco General Hospital.

Research Interests

My laboratory focuses on the following areas of study:

1)      The role of the vasculature in organogenesis:   We are interested in the molecular mechanisms of tissue vascularization and the role of the vasculature in tissue formation.  Our hypothesis is that there are reciprocal inductive interactions between the tissue and its vasculature during organogenesis.  This is strongly suggested in the lungs by the intimate relationship between airways and lung blood vessels, which is critical for normal lung function.  Our goals are to identify the molecular and cellular mechanisms that mediate the cross talk between epithelium and mesenchyme to coordinate airway and vessel development during lung formation.

2)      The development of pulmonary alveoli: Another area of interest of the lab is the development of the distal lung, namely, the formation of alveoli.  These are key functional units of the lungs where gas exchange takes place, yet the regulation of alveolar morphogenesis is not well understood.  Our hypothesis is that since the formation of alveoli occurs in a defined period, genes that regulate alveolar morphogenesis must be differentially expressed during periods of active and inactive alveolar formation.  We are attempting to identify genes that regulate alveolar development by isolating genes differentially expressed between these stages.  The role of candidate genes will then be tested using gain- and loss-of function studies both in vitro and in vivo.

3)      The biology of lung progenitor and stem cells:  As a rule the adult lungs do not regenerate and the response to lung injury in many cases is fibrosis.  We are interested in identifying whether there are populations of progenitor or stem cells in the adult lungs that can be stimulated to repair and regenerate damaged lungs.  We are also interested in identifying conditions that support the growth and differentiation of resident lung progenitor and stem cells or that induce bone marrow derived stem cells to populate and regenerate lung tissues.

Selected Publications

Vu, T. H., Y. Alemayehu, and Z. Werb (2002). New insights into saccular development and vascular formation in lung allografts under the renal capsule, Mechanisms of Development120:305-313. [Pubmed]

Vu, T. H., and Z. Werb (2000).  Matrix metalloproteinases: effectors of development and physiology, Genes and Development 14: 2123-2133.  [Full Text]

Gerber, H-P., Vu, T. H., Ryan, A. M., Kowalski, J., Hillan, K. J., Werb. Z., and N. Ferrara (1999).  VEGF couples hypertrophic cartilage remodeling, ossification, and angiogenesis during endochondral bone formation, Nature Medicine 5:623-628.  [Abstract] [Full Text]

Vu, T.H., Shipley, J. M., Bergers, G., Bergers, J., Helms, J., Hanahan, D., Shapiro, S., Senior, R., and Z. Werb (1998).  MMP-9/Gelatinase B is a key regulator of growth plate angiogenesis and hypertrophic chondrocyte apoptosis.  Cell 93: 411-422.  [Pubmed]

Vu, T. H., and Z. Werb (1998).  Gelatinase B: structure, regulation, and function.  In: Biology of Extracellular Matrix—Matrix Metalloproteinases.  William C. Parks and Robert P. Mecham, eds., Academic Press, pp 115-148.


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