The cardiovascular system as an extremely efficient piping network comprised of thousands of miles of pipe driven by a pump (the heart) that only needs to deliver a few watts of power to the circulating fluid. What distinguishes this system from purely physical pumping networks is that the pump, pipes and fluid are comprised of living cells that can survive only within limited ranges of mechanical forces imposed upon them by the flow system. It is also remarkable that just a very small fraction of the total vessel length in the network is susceptible to diseases that threaten the function of the entire system.

The research in the Coulter Lab derives from observations that there are unique fluid mechanical characteristics in the cardiovascular system that are associated with vascular disease. The fluid mechanical focus has led over time from correlations between fluid mechanical characteristics and vascular disease localization to considerations of underlying biological mechanisms and the associated mechanobiological coupling that leads to exquisite alterations of the component cells down to the level of gene expression networks.