Primary Faculty

Eric W. Howard, Ph.D.

Eric W. Howard, Ph.D.

Associate Professor, Department of Cell Biology 
Assistant Dean, Biomedical Doctoral Programs, Graduate College
Chairman, Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee


Ph.D., Cell Biology, University of California, Irvine, California
B.S., Biology, University of California, Los Angeles 


Contact Information:

Office Phone: (405) 271-8001 ext. 45530
Fax Number: (405) 271-3548




University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center
Department of Cell Biology
P.O. Box 26901
Oklahoma City, OK 73126-0901
940 Stanton L. Young Blvd., BMSB 782
Oklahoma City, OK 73104

Research Interests:


The primary focus of the lab is to understand how vascular smooth muscle cells (VSMCs) or pericytes alter their phenotypes during angiogenesis.  New blood vessel formation initiates with sprouting from existing vessels, and proceeds with the recruitment of VSMCs from the base of these sprouts towards the growing tip. Platelet-derived growth factor (PDGF) expressed by endothelial cells induces VMSCs to undergo a switch from a contractile state to a migratory, proliferative state.  While the mechanisms involved in the down-regulation of contractile genes is pretty well characterized, the up-regulation of genes involved in cell migration and other aspects of non-contractile VSMC behavior is poorly understood.  For example, migratory VSMCs exhibit a sentinel-like phenotype, and are able to respond to bacterial wall constituents via Toll-like receptors (TLRs).  This suggests that VSMCs may act as monitors of microbial contamination of tissue during the early remodeling process.  We have identified both signaling pathways and transcriptional regulatory nodes that mediate different aspects of this change in gene expression programs.  Our goal now is to determine how these cells integrate these pathways such that the appropriate response to external inputs occurs. 


Selected Publications:


Complete list of publications:



Profile Last Updated:   July 18, 2019