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Ayman Al Haj Zen


Visiting Scientist

Therapeutic Angiogenesis


I am currently a Research Fellow based in the Division of Cardiovascular Medicine and the Target Discovery Institute. I received my Ph.D. in 2006 from the University of Paris VII, where I studied the role of small proteoglycans in the regulation of vascular repair and atherosclerosis.

Before joining the University of Oxford, I was a Postdoctoral Researcher at London Research Institute and the University of Bristol, investigating the role of cell-cell communication signalling in vascular development and ischeamia-induced angiogenesis. In 2013, I was awarded an intermediate research fellowship from the British Heart Foundation (Oxford) Centre of Research Excellence to establish my independent research program on therapeutic angiogenesis. My research is focused on the identification of new therapeutic targets and strategies to promote functional neovascularisation and reverse the microvasculature instability in chronic vascular diseases such as peripheral arterial disease and non-healing chronic wounds. I use in vitro angiogenesis assays combined with high content (quantitative) imaging approaches to conduct high throughput screens of small molecule, siRNA and miRNA libraries. Using this phenotype-driven approach, Tazarotene, a third generation Retinoic Acid agonist, was identified to trigger neovascularisation and wound regeneration after injury.

I also have an active interest in understanding the role of paracrine signalling occuring between the newly grown microvascular network and the surrounding healthy or diseased microenvironment, using 2D/3D co-culture models and murine models of adult angiogenesis. Going forward this approach will increase the potential of identifying new targets and strategies that can be therapeutically translated for treating chronic vascular diseases.