Dr. David R. Harder's research interests are centered on characterization of the cellular and molecular mechanisms of muscle cell contraction, particularly arteriole muscle, and the modification of these mechanisms by endothelial factors, neurotransmitters, and endogenous vaso-active agents. We use intracellular electrophysiological recording from muscle cells within intact arterial segments utilizing standard glass microelectrodes to study these phenomena. Cultured vascular muscle and endothelial cells are studied by voltage and patch-clamp techniques for analysis of ionic events.
Vascular Signaling by Free Radicals is one of our group's initiatives. Free radicals are highly reactive agents produced in normal biological processes through the body's use of oxygen. This vascular biology initiative is analyzing how free radicals induce cell death within vessels, and how they modify normal vascular function. Another initiative focuses on the mechanisms controlling cerebral circulation and disease states such as stroke and neuronal damage found in Alzheimer's disease. Two clinical trials underway in the Cardiovascular Center involve the study of gliomas, tumors that originate in the brain or spinal cord. Center investigators are testing specific drugs that may lead to therapies that will reduce or eliminate the tumors.