I’ve been fascinated by nature from a young age. That innate interest led me to want to learn how molecules work together to make muscles contract. More specifically, since the heart is a pump made of cardiac muscles, I wanted to find out which molecules regulate heart development and how to stimulate heart regeneration after cardiac injuries such as heart attack (which leads to a loss of millions of cardiac muscle cells).
My research draws on my expertise in molecular and developmental biology, especially transcriptional and signaling regulation. Earlier in my career, I studied a series of key transcriptional factors and epigenetic regulators required for cardiovascular development and vessel morphogenesis, as well as the Hippo signaling pathway in cardiac regeneration in response to injury.
Since joining Cincinnati Children’s in 2013, I’ve used a multidisciplinary approach — including molecular and cellular biology, genetics, biochemistry, immunology and imaging microscopy — to investigate key signaling molecules in heart development and regeneration to get a better understanding of the complex gene networks controlling cardiovascular remodeling, function and pathogenesis.
Our research group focuses on cardiovascular development and vessel morphogenesis. We use a multidisciplinary approach including molecular and cellular biology, mouse genetics, biochemistry, immunology and imaging microscopy to investigate key signaling molecules in heart development and regeneration. Beyond cardiac biology, we also study vascular network development, angiogenesis and vascular remodeling using the eye and brain as model systems to elucidate important molecular mechanisms that control organogenesis and tumorigenesis.
Ultimately, we aim to translate our collective findings from basic scientific research to therapeutic intervention and patient care.
Over the years, my research has been supported by a variety of funding from internal and external sources. This funding includes an NIH R01 grant (2016-2021); Cincinnati Children’s Trustee Award Grant (2014-2016); American Heart Association Beginning Grants in Aid (2013-2014, 2010-2012); an NIH T32 cardiology training grant (2008-2010); and an NIH T32 nephrology training grant (2007-2008).
MS: Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, Piscataway, NJ.
PhD: The University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, Dallas, TX.
Postdoctoral Fellowship: The University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, Dallas, TX.
Regulation of organogenesis such as cardiovascular and heart growth and regeneration, and the nervous system development
Experimental Hematology and Cancer Biology, Cancer and Blood Diseases
Human fetal cerebellar cell atlas informs medulloblastoma origin and oncogenesis. Nature. 2022; 612:787-794.
Yap1-Scribble polarization is required for hematopoietic stem cell division and fate. Blood. 2020; 136:1824-1836.
Programming of Schwann Cells by Lats1/2-TAZ/YAP Signaling Drives Malignant Peripheral Nerve Sheath Tumorigenesis. Cancer Cell. 2018; 33:292-308.e7.
YAP/TAZ-CDC42 signaling regulates vascular tip cell migration. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of USA. 2017; 114:10918-10923.
A reciprocal regulatory loop between TAZ/YAP and G-protein Gαs regulates Schwann cell proliferation and myelination. Nature Communications. 2017; 8:15161.
Hippo pathway effector Yap promotes cardiac regeneration. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of USA. 2013; 110:13839-13844.
Mending broken hearts: cardiac development as a basis for adult heart regeneration and repair. Nature Reviews: Molecular Cell Biology. 2013; 14:529-541.
Regulation of insulin-like growth factor signaling by Yap governs cardiomyocyte proliferation and embryonic heart size. Science Signaling. 2011; 4:ra70.