Babak Razani, MD, PhD

Assistant Professor of Medicine

Washington University in St. Louis (WU)

Atherosclerosis is a chronic and insidious process wherein the arterial lining is compromised by lipid and cellular infiltration. Atherosclerotic plaque progression is the underlying cause of the majority of cardiovascular diseases including myocardial infarction and strokes leading to tremendous morbidity and mortality worldwide. Understanding the pathophysiology of plaque formation and progression remains an important area of investigation both scientifically and clinically, serving as the basis for future therapeutics.
Inflammatory cells, especially macrophages, play a central role in atherosclerosis. Elucidation of cellular processes that are affected in plaque macrophages has led to our understanding that among other things, aberrant lipid homeostasis and inflammation are critical to plaque progression. Recent work on the autophagy-lysosomal system, or the process by which cells turn over long-lived organelles and proteins, has revealed that atherosclerotic macrophages manifest features of autophagy-lysosomal dysfunction with profound pathogenic consequences. Studying this system in animal models and translating findings to patients with cardiovascular diseases is a major thrust of my research.