Sean Wu Lab

Lab Overview

My research laboratory seeks to identify mechanisms responsible for human congenital heart disease, the most common cause of still-births in the U.S. and one of the major contributors to morbidity and mortality in infants and toddlers. We believe that by understanding the mechanisms regulating growth and differentiation of heart precursor cells during early embryonic development we can then apply these principles to understand the pathogenesis of adult onset heart diseases such as heart failure and arrhythmia where re-activation of early embryonic developmental program plays a central role. We currently use both genetically-modified mice as our living model to understand the biology of heart development as well as embryonic stem cells as a test-tube model to study the process of heart cell formation.

Recent News

June 26, 2017

A new commentary article, entitled "The relationship between cardiac endothelium and fibroblasts: it’s complicated" was published in the Journal of Clinical Investigation by Dr. Sean Wu and his former resident trainee, Ravi Karra (now Assistant Professor of Medicine at Duke University), discussing the recently published paper from Dr. Bin Zhou (Shanghai Institute of Biological Science) on the lack of contribution of cardiac fibroblasts to endothelial cells during normal homeostasis and after myocardial injury.


June 13, 2017

Congratulations to senior undergraduate student Yuan Zhang who is graduating from the Stanford Department of Biology and received the prestigious Firestone Medal for her honors thesis titled "Bioactive Lipids Enhance Cardiomyocyte Differentiation from Human Induced Pluripotent Stem Cells"


June 6, 2017

Congratulations to post-doctoral fellow Soah Lee, PhD who has been awarded the one-year Child Health Research Institute (CHRI) post-doctoral fellowship. Her project "Defining the Requirement of Sarcomeric Protein Alignment in Gap Junction Formation in Pediatric HCM" will be co-mentored by Drs. Sean Wu and Daniel Bernstein. We are very grateful for the support from CHRI for this research project.


May 18, 2017

Congratulations to pediatric cardiology fellows Sharon Paige, MD, PhD, and William Goodyer, MD, PhD, who have both been awarded the two-year post-doctoral fellowship from the NIH/NHLBI T32 Training Grant (HL094274 - Training in Myocardial Biology at Stanford (TIMBS)). Sharon's research project entitled "In Vitro Modeling of Congenital Heart Disease with Right Ventricular Hypoplasia Using Cardiac Chamber Specific Reporters in Patient-Derived Induced Pluripotent Stem Cells" will address the use of iPSCs from patients with ventricular hypoplasia to study the molecular mechanism responsible for their developmental defect. Will's research project will address the transcriptional mechanism of the cardiac conduction system using the mouse cardiac conduction system (CCS) reporter line and the response of these CCS cells to injury. We are very grateful for the support from TIMBS for these research projects.


April 17, 2017

Congratulations to former and current post-doctoral fellows Serge Gregoire, Guang Li, Anthony Sturzu for the acceptance of their paper entitled – “YY1 Expression is Sufficient for the Maintenance of Cardiac Progenitor Cell State” in the journal Stem Cells. This study was initiated while the Wu lab was located at the Massachusetts General Hospital and completed here at Stanford with contribution from Dr. Robert J. Schwartz at University of Texas. The results show that persistence of YY1 expression in cardiac progenitor cells (CPCs) can help sustain these cells in a primitive state while the loss of YY1 expression results in rapid differentiation of CPCs into cardiomyocytes, endothelial cells, and smooth muscle cells.


April 11, 2017

Congratulations to post-doctoral fellow Guang Li, PhD who has been awarded the highly competitive NIH NHLBI K99 grant for his application entitled – “Cellular and Molecular Mechanisms of Atrial Cardiomyocyte Lineage Commitment”. This grant award will support two years of mentored research at Stanford and 3 additional years of tenure track faculty research. The project will seek to determine key molecular regulators of atrial cardiomyocyte lineage commitment and differentiation using both mouse models in vivo as well as in vitro differentiated mouse ESCs.


April 1, 2017

Congratulations to senior undergraduate student Daniel Hu who has chosen to enroll in Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine for his medical training. Daniel will complete a BS degree in Bioengineering this June and graduate with honors for his thesis work on “3D printing of bioengineered functional cardiac tissue”.


March 24, 2017

Congratulations to Soah Lee, Vahid Serpooshan, Sneha Venkatraman, Orlando Chirikian for the acceptance of their paper entitled – “Contractile force generation by 3D hiPSC-derived cardiac tissues is enhanced by rapid establishment of cellular interconnection in matrix with muscle-mimicking stiffness” in the journal Biomaterials. This study (in collaboration with Drs. Fan Yang, Joseph Wu, Xinming Tong, Meelim Lee, and Jaechoel Lee at Stanford) demonstrate the need for precise control of the properties of the 3D environment that encapsulates hiPSC-derived cardiomyocytes for proper contractile function.


March 23, 2017

Congratulations to Vahid Serpooshan, Soah Lee, Arun Sharma, Daniel Hu, Sneha Venkatraman for the acceptance of their paper entitled – “Bioacoustic-enabled patterning of human iPSC-derived cardiomyocytes into 3D cardiac tissue” in the journal Biomaterials. This study shows the versatility of bioacoustics approach (in collaboration with Drs. Utkan Demirci, Fan Yang, Joe Wu, Haodi Wu, and Pu Chen at Stanford and Drs. Berk Usta and Martin Yarmush at Massachusetts General Hospital) to pattern human iPSC-derived cardiomyocytes for the creation of 3D engineered tissue.


February 14, 2017

Congratulations to Wenpo Chuang, Arun Sharma, Guang Li, Rajarajan Kuppusamy, and Ryoko Hamaguchi for the acceptance of their paper entitled – “Partial reprogramming of pluripotent stem cell-derived cardiomyocytes into neurons” in the journal Scientific Reports (by Nature Publishing Group). This study (in collaboration with Drs. Marius Wernig, Joe Wu, Praveen Shukla, Moritz Mall, and Oscar Abilez at Stanford) shows that the introduction of neuronal reprogramming factors Brns, Ascl1, Myf1l, and with NeuroD (for human) are able to convert mouse ESC or human iPSC-derived cardiomyocytes into fully functional neurons in rare numbers with a significant number of the treated cells exhibit partial neuronal characteristics. These studies seeks to generate conductive cells for cardiac regenerative applications.


January 13, 2017

Congratulations to Mr. James Hu who has received a Bio-X Undergraduate Summer Research Fellowship for his research project on “3D Printing of bioengineered platforms for high-throughput cardiotoxicity screening”. His proposal was one of the 65 successful applications from a talented pool of over 130 applicants. We are very grateful for the support from the Bio-X program for this research project.