Principal Investigator

Joseph C. Wu, MD, PhD
Director, Stanford Cardiovascular Institute
Simon H. Stertzer, MD, Professor of Cardiovascular Medicine & Radiology
Academic Profile

Dr. Wu is Director of the Stanford Cardiovascular Institute and Professor in theDepartment of Medicine (Cardiology) and Department of Radiology at the Stanford School of Medicine. Dr. Wu received his medical degree from the Yale School of Medicine and completed his medicine residency and cardiology fellowship training followed by a PhD (molecular pharmacology) at UCLA. Dr. Wu has received several awards, including the ACC/GE Career Award in Cardiovascular Imaging, Burroughs Wellcome Foundation Career Award in Medical Sciences, Baxter Foundation Faculty Scholar Award, Douglas P. Zipes Distinguished Young Scientist Award, and NIH Director’s New Innovator Award. His research interests include stem cell biology, gene therapy, genomics, and molecular imaging.

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Post-doctoral Fellows

Kazuki Kodo, PhD
Post-doctoral Fellow

Kazuki Kodo obtained his Doctor of Medicine at Keio University School of Medicine in 1999 and his Doctor of Philosophy at Keio University School of Medicine in 2010. He joined Wu Lab in 2012. He is modeling cardiomyopathy and congenital heart diseases with human induced pluripotent stem cells.

Yingxin Li, PhD
Post-doctoral Fellow

Yingxin Li received his Ph.D. from Temple University, Philadelphia, USA, where he studied the roles of the T- and L-type calcium channels in heart rate generation, regulation and heart diseases. Dr. Li joined the Wu lab in 2013. He will mainly be working on the electrophysiology of stem cells using the patient-specific human induced pluripotent stem cell-derived cardiomyocytes (hiPSC-CMs) as a platform for drug discovery, cardiotoxicity screening, and pharmacological analysis.

Ilanit Itzhaki, PhD
Post-doctoral Fellow

Ilanit Itzhaki received her PhD from the Technion Israel Institute of Technology where she worked on modeling familial arrhythmogenic syndromes (LQT and CPVT) using human iPSC-derived cardiomyocytes at Prof. Lior Gepstein’s lab. Itzhaki joined the Wu lab December 2014 and is currently studying electrophysiological cardiac maturation.

Chun Liu, PhD
Post-doctoral Fellow

Chun Liu received his PhD of Stem Cell Biology from Peking University (2014) in China. He worked on somatic reprogramming and differentiation of tissue cells (like hepatocyte and endothelial cells) from induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs). During his PhD, he have demonstrated a new way to reprogram adult somatic cells to become iPSCs using only chemical small molecules, without the addition of extra genes that could introduce the risks of mutations for cancer. In 2015, he joined Wu lab as a postdoc fellow, and he is interested in cardiovascular disease modeling and potential drug screening.

Won Hee Lee received her PhD in Biomedical Engineering and Sciences at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University (Virginia Tech) and joined the lab in January 2011. Her research interests include studying effects of radiation on in vitro and in vivo models as well as stem cell and applying molecular imaging techniques in developing genetic therapy.

Praveen received his PhD in Pharm Sciences from N Dakota State Univ. Doctoral research elucidated the effects of melatonin on NO/cGMP/BKCa signaling pathway in coronary arteries and the hTRPA1 and TRPV4 channel drug discovery program at Neuronal targets and Heart failure discovery performance unit, GlaxoSmithKline. He joined Wu lab in 2012 and will research the electrophysiological characterization of iPSC-derived cardiomyocytes as an in-vitro screening platform for cardiotoxicity assessment of NCEs and in regenerative medicine.

Evangeline Tzatzalos, PhD
Post-doctoral Fellow

Evangeline Tzatzalos received her Ph.D. in Biomedical Engineering from Rutgers University, where she studied gene regulation in stem cells of the developing central nervous system. Her current research interests include cardiac contractile force generation in cardiomyopathy. She is investigating these biomechanical properties on a tissue level using a model system based on induced pluripotent stem cells.

Mingtao Zhao, PhD
Post-doctoral Fellow

Mingtao Zhao received his BS in Biological Science (2005) and DVM from Northwest A&F University (2010) in China. He then completed his Ph.D. under the mentorship of Dr. Randall Prather at the University of Missouri-Columbia in 2013, where he investigated DNA methylation and hydroxymethylation in mammalian gametes and early embryos. He joined Wu lab as a postdoc fellow in Jan 2014. He is interested in epigenetic modifications in cardiac differentiation and cardiovascular disease.

Sang Ging Ong, MS, PhD
Post-doctoral Fellow

Sang Ging Ong Received Bachelors of Science (Hons) from University Technology of Malaysia in 2006; worked as a research student in Kyoto University, Japan in 2007, received Masters of Research from University of Manchester, UK in 2008, received PhD from University College London, UK in 2011. Research interests included hypoxia-inducible factor-1 (HIF-1) and ischemia-reperfusion biology. Joined Wu's lab in Dec 2011 and will be working on gene therapy and long non-coding RNAs in cardiovascular diseases.

Haodi Wu, PhD
Post-doctoral Fellow

Haodi Wu was granted his Ph.D. in Peking University, where he was working on the structural/functional remodelings and the underlying molecular mechanisms of cardiomyocytes in heart failure. Joined the lab in 2012, combining multiple functional imaging techniques, his current research is focusing on the beta adrenergic signaling regulation in normal and diseased hiPSC-CMs and the potential treatment of dialated cardiomyopathy.

Alexandra Holmström, PhD
Post-doctoral Fellow

Alexandra Holmström received her PhD in Medicine from Gothenburg University, Sweden where she worked on the clinical relevance and potential mechanism of biomarkers in elderly heart failure patients. Her research focuses on generation of cardiomyocytes from rhesus iPS cells and their applications for treating heart disease in the form of transplantable in vitro engineered tissues, as a way to better understand the potential use of human iPS cell-derived tissues in clinical trials. Alexandra joined the Wu lab March 2014.

Tomoya Kitani
Post-doctoral Fellow

No bio available


Antje Ebert obtained her PhD in Biochemistry at University of Heidelberg, Germany. Her research interests are Adipose-derived iPSCs and non-viral reprogramming; epigenetic and proteomic approaches for elucidating reprogramming mechanisms; iPSC differentiation.

Elena Matsa, PhD

Elena Matsa received her Ph.D. from the University of Nottingham, UK, where she studied the epigenetic mechanisms of induced pluripotent stem cell derivation. She then progressed to a postdoctoral fellowship at the University of Nottingham working on cardiac differentiation of pluripotent stem cells and modeling of the cardiac arrhythmia syndrome known as long-QT. Dr. Matsa joined the Wu lab in 2012 and she is currently studying the molecular mechanisms of dilated cardiomyopathies.

Oscar Abilez received his BS from UT-Austin (Mechanical Engineering), his PhD from Stanford (Bioengineering), and his MD from Cornell. His research interests are aimed at elucidating how various biophysical stimuli regulate cardiovascular development across time and length scales that span several orders of magnitude, using human pluripotent stem cells as a model system.

Nazish Sayed, MBBS, PhD

Nazish earned his MD from Univ of Bombay, trained in Int Med and obtained a PhD in Physiology and Pharm at Rutgers. He continued his postdoc at Stanford in CV and regenerative medicine, focusing on developing reagents and protocols for a nonintegrative strategy of generating human iPSCs. He received the AHA-SDG and the NIH-NHLBI Progenitor Cell Consortium Pilot Grant to investigate novel regulators to enhance safer iPSC derivation and differentiation to endothelial cells. Research interests include EC and cardiac differentiation from iPSCs, direct reprogramming, and elucidating novel pathways for generating iPSCs and its derivatives.

Dr. Karakikes received his PhD in Immunology from the University of Essex (UK). His postdoctoral studies at Imperial College London (UK) and Mount Sinai School of Medicine (New York, USA) were focused on the development of cell- and genebased regenerative therapies for the treatment of heart failure. He is a recipient of the Pathway to Independence Award (K99/R00) to study the role of microRNAs (miRNAs) in cardiac function and dysfunction. His research interests include: the role of miRNAs in the heart, cardiomyocyte differentiation from human pluripotent stem cells as well as the development of personalized therapies for cardiovascular disease.

In 2011, Jared Churko received his Ph.D. from the University of Western Ontario, Canada where he studied gap junction biology. Dr. Churko joined the Wu lab in 2012 and he is currently studying human induced pluripotent stem cell derivation, cardiac differentiation, cardiomyocyte properties that change with age, and modeling hypertrophic and dilated cardiomyopathies.

Clinical Fellows

Timon Seeger, MD
Cardiovascular Medicine Fellow

Timon Seeger received his MD from the School of Medicine, University of Heidelberg, Germany and finished his internal medicine residency at the University Hospital of Frankfurt, Germany. His research was focussed on microRNA regulation in cardiac regeneration working at the Institute of Cardiovascular Regeneration, Frankfurt. He joined the lab in August 2014 and his research interest will include modeling cardiac diseases with iPSC derived cardiomyocytes  using genome editing technologies.

Karim Sallam, MD
Cardiovascular Medicine Fellow

No bio available

Ian Chen, MD, PhD
Cardiovascular Medicine Fellow

Ian Chen received his BS/MSE in Biomedical Engineering at The Johns Hopkins University, followed by MD/PhD in Bioengineering at Stanford University, where he is obtaining additional clinical training in Cardiovascular Medicine. His research interests include multimodality molecular imaging, cardiac gene/stem cell therapy, and cardiovascular disease modeling using human induced pluripotent stem cells.

Graduate Students

Arun Sharma received his BS in Cell and Molecular Biology, Chemistry, and Genome Sciences & Policy from Duke University. He is a Biosciences PhD graduate student at Stanford University. Arun's research focuses on the molecular mechanisms driving cardiovascular development, disease, and regeneration. He is also also interested in utilizing induced pluripotent stem cells for the in-vitro modeling of cardiovascular disorders.

Jon Stack
PhD Student

Jon Stack received his Bachelor of Science from Texas A&M University and his DVM from the University of Illinois (2012).   He pursued further clinical training at Purdue University and then practiced as an emergency veterinary clinician for several years in Washington, DC.  He joined the Wu Lab in 2015 to pursue a PhD through the Stem Cell Biology and Regenerative Medicine Program.  His research interests include modeling of cardiovascular diseases using induced pluripotent stem cells, as well as potential therapeutic applications.


John Ahrens

In 2015, John Ahrens graduated from Stanford University with a degree in Biomechanical Engineering. Previously, he worked at the Institute for Systems Biology and in the Deok-Ho Kim lab at the University of Washington before joining Dr. Wu’s lab in 2013. With plans to pursue a PhD in the near future, his current research interests include cardiac disease modeling, tissue engineering, and precision medicine.

Lab Managers

Justin Vincent

Loan Nguyen

Medical Students

Anita Chanana
Medical Student

No bio available