Karen K. Hirschi, Ph. D.
Deputy Director, STaR Center
Karen Hirschi earned her PhD degree at the University of Arizona, and received post-doctoral training at Harvard Medical School, as an NIH Postdoctoral Fellow. While at Harvard, she developed novel in vitro model systems to study the interactions between vascular cells and their progenitors during blood vessel assembly. Utilizing such systems, she made significant contributions to the understanding of the fundamental cellular processes that modulate vascular development.
Hirschi joined the faculty at Baylor College of Medicine in 1997, and is a member of the Center for Cell and Gene Therapy, the Children's Nutrition Research Center, and the Departments of Pediatrics and Molecular & Cellular Biology. She is also a faculty member in the Bioengineering Department at Rice University. The work of the Hirschi lab continues to focus on understanding the cellular and molecular control of blood vessel formation, and identification of cells that participate in this process in embryonic and adult tissues. Insights gained from such cell and developmental studies are applied to the optimization of clinically relevant treatments including autologous vascular cell and gene therapy, assembly of blood vessels grafts, and vascularization of engineered tissues.
Dr. Hirschi frequently speaks at, and participates in the organization of, national and international conferences, and serves on the Scientific Council of the North American Vascular Biology Organization and is an Established Investigator of the American Heart Association. She has also served on a number of grant review panels for AHA, NASA and NIH, is currently a chartered member of NIH Cardiovascular Differentiation and Development Study Section, and serves on the Editorial Board of the journals Circulation, Tissue Engineering, and Regenerative Medicine.