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John Chappell, Ph.D.

Associate Professor
Genderless Silhouette
Fralin Biomedical Research Institute
2 Riverside Circle
Office #R2119
Roanoke, VA 24016


Chappell Lab

Research Areas

  • Cardiovascular engineering

Research Interests

Blood vessels deliver oxygen and distribute inflammatory cells to nearly every tissue in the human body, among other essential functions. Regulation of vascular growth must therefore be tightly controlled, and when this regulation is disrupted, numerous diseases can occur or become worsened such as cancer growth and metastasis. John Chappell and his research team study how the blood vasculature develops during early organ formation and during certain diseases such as tumor progression and neurological disorders. Increased insight into the basic mechanisms of blood vessel formation will guide the design of clinical therapies for vascular-related pathologies.

Pericytes are cells that wrap around blood vessels to maintain their stability and integrity. Disruptions in pericyte contribution to the vascular wall can lead to disease progression including diabetic retinopathy. Trained as a biomedical engineer, Chappell uses computational modeling approaches in conjunction with real-time imaging of ex vivo and in vitro models of blood vessel formation to understand pericyte behavior during blood vessel formation in health and disease. Understanding the mechanisms behind pericyte recruitment and investment will provide rationale and guidance for targeting pericyte-endothelial cell interactions for therapeutic benefit.


  • University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill: Postdoctoral Research Associate, Program in Molecular Biology and Biotechnology Laboratory, 2014
  • University of Virginia: Ph.D., Biomedical Engineering, 2007
  • University of Virginia: M.S., Biomedical Engineering, 2005
  • University of Virginia: B.S., Electrical Engineering, 2001

Awards, Honors and Services

  • Liviu Librescu Faculty Prize, outstanding accomplishments for the 2018-2019 academic year - Department of Biomedical Engineering and Mechanics, Virginia Tech, 2019
  • Honoring Exemplary Researcher Outreach Award, Roanoke Valley Governor’s School for Science and Tech, 2018 and 2019
  • Leader in Research - Department of Biomedical Engineering and Mechanics, Virginia Tech, 2018
  • Teaching Excellence - Translational Biology, Medicine, and Health (TBMH) Graduate Program, Virginia Tech, 2017
  • Outstanding Trainee Oral Presentation, UNC IVB/MHI Research Symposium, 2011
  • Joseph S. Pagano Award for Best Paper by a Postdoctoral Fellow for 2009, First Place, 2010
  • Keystone Symposia Conference on Angiogenesis in Health and Disease, Travel Scholarship, 2010

Recent Publications

Chappell JC, Darden J, Payne LB, Fink K, Bautch VL. Blood Vessel Patterning on Retinal Astrocytes Requires Endothelial Flt-1 (VEGFR-1). J Dev Biol. 2019 Sep 7;7(3). pii: E18. doi: 10.3390/jdb7030018. PubMed PMID: 31500294; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC6787756.

Payne LB, Zhao H, James CC, Darden J, McGuire D, Taylor S, Smyth JW, Chappell JC. The pericyte microenvironment during vascular development. Microcirculation. 2019 May 7. doi: 10.1111/micc.12554. [Epub ahead of print] Review. PubMed PMID: 31066166.

Zhao H, Chappell JC. Microvascular bioengineering: a focus on pericytes. J Biol Eng. 2019 Mar 29;13:26. doi: 10.1186/s13036-019-0158-3. eCollection 2019. Review. PubMed PMID: 30984287; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC6444752.

Chappell JC, Payne LB, Rathmell WK. Hypoxia, angiogenesis, and metabolism in the hereditary kidney cancers. J Clin Invest. 2019 Feb 1;129(2):442-451. doi: 10.1172/JCI120855. Epub 2019 Jan 7. Review. PubMed PMID: 30614813; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC6355237.

Darden J, Payne LB, Zhao H, Chappell JC. Excess vascular endothelial growth factor-A disrupts pericyte recruitment during blood vessel formation. Angiogenesis. 2019 Feb;22(1):167-183. doi: 10.1007/s10456-018-9648-z. Epub 2018 Sep 20. PubMed PMID: 30238211; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC6360133.

Zhao H, Darden J, Chappell JC. Establishment and characterization of an embryonic pericyte cell line. Microcirculation. 2018 Jul;25(5):e12461. doi: 10.1111/micc.12461. Epub 2018 Jun 7. PubMed PMID: 29770525.

Arreola A, Payne LB, Julian MH, de Cubas AA, Daniels AB, Taylor S, Zhao H, Darden J, Bautch VL, Rathmell WK, Chappell JC. Von Hippel-Lindau mutations disrupt vascular patterning and maturation via Notch. JCI Insight. 2018 Feb 22;3(4). pii: 92193. doi: 10.1172/jci.insight.92193. eCollection 2018 Feb 22. PubMed PMID: 29467323; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC5916240.

Walpole J, Mac Gabhann F, Peirce SM, Chappell JC. Agent-based computational model of retinal angiogenesis simulates microvascular network morphology as a function of pericyte coverage. Microcirculation. 2017 Nov;24(8). doi: 10.1111/micc.12393. PubMed PMID: 28791758; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC5673505.

Chappell JC, Cluceru JG, Nesmith JE, Mouillesseaux KP, Bradley VB, Hartland CM, Hashambhoy-Ramsay YL, Walpole J, Peirce SM, Mac Gabhann F, Bautch VL. Flt-1 (VEGFR-1) coordinates discrete stages of blood vessel formation. Cardiovasc Res. 2016 Jul 1;111(1):84-93. doi: 10.1093/cvr/cvw091. Epub 2016 May 3. PubMed PMID: 27142980; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC4909163.

Walpole J, Chappell JC, Cluceru JG, Mac Gabhann F, Bautch VL, Peirce SM. Agent-based model of angiogenesis simulates capillary sprout initiation in multicellular networks. Integr Biol (Camb). 2015 Sep;7(9):987-97. doi: 10.1039/c5ib00024f. Epub 2015 Jul 9. PubMed PMID: 26158406; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC4558383.