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Josh picturePost Doctoral Fellow

Contact Info:


University of Maine, Orono, ME – Ph.D. in Cell and Molecular Biology, 2013
Plymouth State University, Plymouth, NH – B.S. in Biotechnology, 2009

Research: Vascular endothelial growth factor receptor-1 (VEGFR1) is a high-affinity receptor for the pro-angiogenic cytokine vascular endothelial growth factor-A (VEGF-A). Genetic ablation of VEGFR1 in mice results in embryonic lethality by day 8.5 of gestation with stark morphological aberrancies in the vasculature. Differential RNA processing of VEGFR1 gives rise to a full-length transmembrane receptor with weak tyrosine kinase activity and a secreted splice variant that lacks tyrosine kinase and transmembrane domains. Secreted VEGFR1 has been shown to regulate blood vessel sprouting (angiogenesis) by fine-tuning the concentration of VEGF-A in the extracellular environment. Proper sorting and spatial distribution of proteins is required for normal cell function. The broad focus of my research is to study intracellular mechanisms regulating the sorting, trafficking and spatial distribution of VEGFR1 isoforms in endothelial cells within the context of nascent blood vessel sprouting. I am interested in understanding whether VEGFR1 trafficking is polarized and the effects on angiogenesis when VEGFR1 is mis-localized. This research will provide mechanistic insight into the physiological regulation of angiogenesis and potentially a better understanding of the underlying mechanisms of tumor angiogenesis.


Boucher J.M., Harrington A, Rostama B, Lindner V, Liaw L. A receptor-specific function for Notch2 in mediating vascular smooth muscle cell growth arrest through cyclin-dependent kinase inhibitor 1b. Circ Res. 2013;113:975-985

Boucher, J., Gridley, T., and Liaw, L. (2012) Molecular Pathways of Notch signaling in vascular smooth muscle cells. Front Physiol 3, 81

Tang, Y., Boucher, J.M., and Liaw, L. (2012) Histone deacetylase activity selectively regulates notch-mediated smooth muscle differentiation in human vascular cells. J Am Heart Assoc 1, e000901

Boucher, J.M., Peterson, S. M., Urs, S., Zhang, C., and Liaw, L. (2011) The miR-143/145 cluster is a novel transcriptional target of Jagged-1/Notch signaling in vascular smooth muscle cells. J Biol Chem 286, 28312-28321

Tang, Y., Urs, S., Boucher, J., Bernaiche, T., Venkatesh, D., Spicer, D. B., Vary, C. P., and Liaw, L. (2010) Notch and transforming growth factor-beta (TGFbeta) signaling pathways cooperatively regulate vascular smooth muscle cell differentiation. J Biol Chem 285, 17556-17563