Robert P. Mecham, PhD
Robert P. Mecham, Ph.D., is Alumni Endowed Professor of Cell Biology and Physiology and professor of medicine, pediatrics and biomedical engineering. For more than 30 years, he has been an acknowledged expert in the field of connective tissue biology.
Mecham earned his bachelor’s degree in biology from the University of Utah in 1973, then pursued his Ph.D. and postdoctoral work in biochemistry at Boston University. He came to Washington University for a postdoctoral fellowship in 1977 and was named an associate professor in 1986. He rose to the rank of professor in 1989 and alumni endowed professor in 1995.
A goal of Mecham’s research is to understand the complex process of extracellular matrix secretion and assembly, with a particular emphasis on the proteins important to the cardiovascular and pulmonary systems. One focus of the work is elastin, a major structural component of large arteries and the principal determinant of vessel mechanical properties.
Mecham has a long-standing interest in vascular development and disease, particularly in understanding the development of the vessel wall and the recruitment and differentiation of smooth muscle cells in both the systemic and pulmonary circulation. His work has consequences for human inherited diseases involving proteins of the elastic fiber including systemic and pulmonary hypertension, Marfan Syndrome, and vascular stenosis.
In addition to his robust basic research program, Mecham is a dedicated teacher and mentor. He has been awarded three Distinguished Teaching Awards, a Distinguished Mentor Award, and an Outstanding Faculty Mentor Award for his commitment to guiding graduate students and postdoctoral fellows. He has served on numerous scientific journal review boards and currently edits a book series on extracellular matrix biology. He is past president of the American Society for Matrix Biology and is a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.