Associate Professor
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Research Interests

Our laboratory focuses on understanding the fundamental mechanism of cardiac cell fate control and cardiac electrophysiology during the development of the heart and applying the knowledge to develop new therapeutic approaches for cardiac regenerative medicine and anti-arrhythmic therapies.

Cardiac electrophysiology and automaticity

  • Cardiac arrhythmias are a leading cause of morbidity and mortality. We have over 18-years’ experience of utilizing mouse and human embryonic stem cells (ESCs) and induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs), a critical research model, to understand the development of cardiac electrophysiology and automaticity during the differentiation of ESC/iPSC-cardiomyocytes (CMs). We have been studying the role of IK1 on cardiac automaticity and anti-arrhythmic therapies.

Cardiac regenerative medicine

  • Adult CMs have limited regenerative capabilities. We have been investigating different strategies to facilitate the electrophysiological and functional maturation of ESC/iPSC-differentiate CMs, with a goal of improving the efficacy and safety of their clinical applications for cardiac regeneration medicine. We had also developed an epigenetic approach to directly convert cardiac fibroblasts into induced CM-like cells (iCMs) in vitro and in vivo by a combination of cardiac developmental transcription factors. Developing new strategies of cardiac regenerative medicine is one of our research interests.

Biophysical modulation of microRNAs

  • MicroRNAs have been increasingly recognized for the maintenance of cardiac function, including cardiac electrophysiology, and the development of disease states through its classical RNA interference (RNAi) mechanism. We had investigated the critical role of microRNAs to regulate the differentiation and functional maturation of ESC-CMs during cardiac differentiation. Very recently, we have discovered a novel new function of microRNA that can biophysically modulate ion channels, which is beyond its classical RNAi regulation. This study develops a new research direction of microRNA biology and could have broad implications for multiple cardiac proteins and diseases.
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Education and Training

PhD: Shanghai Institutes for Biological Sciences, Chinese Academy of Sciences, China
Post Doctoral, University of California, Davis, California
Post Doctoral, The Gladstone Institute, University of California, San Francisco, California