Nafiisha Genet, newly appointed Research Assistant Professor in the Hirschi Lab, has been awarded a prestigious Career Development Award from the American Heart Association (AHA). Her recent published study in Cell Reports (April 2023) revealed that connexin 43 (Cx43)-mediated neurovascular interactions in the adult brain neural stem cell niche is an important regulator of neural stem cell activation. Her study shows that loss of Cx43 in either neural stem cells or endothelial cells leads to neural stem cell activation and proliferation. For her newly funded Career Development Award, she aims to study the role of endothelial- and astroglial-expressed Cx43 in retinal vascular development and retinopathies, namely retinopathy of prematurity and diabetic retinopathy. Both diseases are characterized by astrocytic death and changes in the retinal microvasculature that ultimately lead to blindness. Dr. Genet’s project will provide insights into Cx43-based neurovascular interactions in the developing retinal vasculature and will determine whether modulating Cx43 expression and/or function with Cx43 mimetic peptides can prevent or correct pathological neovascularization in retinopathies, opening a new avenue for devising therapeutic strategies.