I’m a researcher analyzing cardiovascular disease, molecular biology, cell signaling and gene therapy. My interest stems from statistics that indicate heart failure (HF) is the leading cause of death worldwide. HF-associated cardiomyocyte (CM) loss cannot be innately restored due to the limited self-renewal ability of the heart, which results in severely diminished cardiac function. This finding is one of the foremost challenges in the treatment of HF.
By using technologies such as spatial transcriptomics and newly synthesized protein labeling, we are working on determining a more comprehensive understanding of the molecular mechanisms that underlie cardiac injury and repair. This knowledge is critical for developing improved ischemic and congenital heart disease therapies. By studying the molecular mechanisms in cardiac remodeling and regeneration, and developing therapeutic strategies to intervene in this process, we aim to stimulate CM proliferation, reverse cardiac remodeling and improve cardiac function beneficially.
One of my groundbreaking discoveries is the Hippo Signaling Pathway (HSP), a fundamental pathway for controlling organ size that functions as a critical inhibitor of CM proliferation during development to limit heart size. My recent study reveals that AAV9-mediated disruption of the HSP promotes cardiac functional recovery and regeneration in a pig model of myocardial infarction (MI) — an approach with enormous translational potential for developing novel cardiac therapies. In addition, I utilized advanced technologies such as single-cell RNA-sequencing and CRISPR/Cas9 to elucidate the crosstalk between Hippo and Wnt signaling in heart regeneration and uncovered the essential role of noncanonical Wnt signaling in suppressing cardiac fibrosis.
I have been a researcher for over 12 years, and I began my work at Cincinnati Children’s in 2023.