Brant M. Weinstein, Ph.D.

Senior Investigator

Section on Vertebrate Organogenesis


NIHBC 06B 4B413


Research Topics

Organogenesis of the Zebrafish Vasculature

The overall objective of this project is to understand how the elaborate networks of blood and lymphatic vessels arise during vertebrate embryogenesis. Blood vessels supply every tissue and organ with oxygen, nutrients, and cellular and humoral factors. Lymphatic vessels drain fluids and macromolecules from the interstitial spaces of tissues, returning them to the blood circulation, and play an important role in immune responses. Understanding the formation of blood and lymphatic vessels is engendering intense clinical interest because of the roles that both types of vessels play in cancer and ischemia. The zebrafish, a small tropical freshwater fish, possesses a unique combination of features that make it particularly suitable for studying vessel formation; the fish is a genetically tractable vertebrate with a physically accessible, optically clear embryo. These features are highly advantageous for studying vascular development, permitting observation of every vessel in the living animal and simple, rapid screening for even subtle vascular-specific mutants.

Major aims of the laboratory include developing new tools for studying vascular development in zebrafish, experimental analysis of vascular morphogenesis, vascular patterning, and lymphatic development, and forward-genetic analysis of vascular development.


Dr. Brant M. Weinstein received his Ph. D. from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and carried out postdoctoral studies in the laboratory of Dr. Mark Fishman at the Massachusetts General Hospital. He joined the NICHD as a Primary Investigator in 1997. He became Deputy Director of the NICHD Program in Genomics of Differentiation in 2007 and Director in 2010, and currently serves as NICHD Associate Scientific Director heading the Division of Developmental Biology . Dr. Weinstein is a leading expert on zebrafish vascular development. His laboratory developed a widely used confocal micro-angiography method, compiled an atlas of the anatomy of the developing zebrafish vasculature, developed numerous vascular-specific transgenic fish lines, and pioneered methods for high resolution in vivo imaging of zebrafish blood vessels. His laboratory has used all of these tools and methods to make a variety of important discoveries in the areas of vascular specification, differentiation, and patterning, including a novel pathway specifying arterial identity, a role for neuronal guidance factors in vascular patterning, a mechanism for vascular tube formation in vivo, and the identification of a lymphatic vascular system in the zebrafish.

Selected Publications

  1. Venero Galanternik M, Castranova D, Gore AV, Blewett NH, Jung HM, Stratman AN, Kirby MR, Iben J, Miller MF, Kawakami K, Maraia RJ, Weinstein BM. A novel perivascular cell population in the zebrafish brain. Elife. 2017;6.
  2. Yaniv K, Isogai S, Castranova D, Dye L, Hitomi J, Weinstein BM. Live imaging of lymphatic development in the zebrafish. Nat Med. 2006;12(6):711-6.
  3. Avraham-Davidi I, Ely Y, Pham VN, Castranova D, Grunspan M, Malkinson G, Gibbs-Bar L, Mayseless O, Allmog G, Lo B, Warren CM, Chen TT, Ungos J, Kidd K, Shaw K, Rogachev I, Wan W, Murphy PM, Farber SA, Carmel L, Shelness GS, Iruela-Arispe ML, Weinstein BM, Yaniv K. ApoB-containing lipoproteins regulate angiogenesis by modulating expression of VEGF receptor 1. Nat Med. 2012;18(6):967-73.
  4. Kamei M, Saunders WB, Bayless KJ, Dye L, Davis GE, Weinstein BM. Endothelial tubes assemble from intracellular vacuoles in vivo. Nature. 2006;442(7101):453-6.
  5. Cha YR, Fujita M, Butler M, Isogai S, Kochhan E, Siekmann AF, Weinstein BM. Chemokine signaling directs trunk lymphatic network formation along the preexisting blood vasculature. Dev Cell. 2012;22(4):824-36.

Related Scientific Focus Areas

This page was last updated on Wednesday, November 10, 2021