Principal Investigator

Daniel Bernstein, M.D.

Alfred Woodley Salter and Mabel G. Salter Professor of Pediatrics (Cardiology)

Associate Dean for Curriculum and Scholarship

Dr. Bernstein completed his undergraduate education at MIT and his MD at NYU. He did his pediatric residency at Montefiore Medical Center in New York, a Fellowship in Medical Education at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine and then a fellowship in Pediatric Cardiology at the UCSF, under the mentorship of Dr. Abraham Rudolph. He joined the faculty at Stanford in 1986, served as Chief of Pediatric Cardiology from 1994-2011 and as Director of the Children’s Heart Center at Packard Children’s Hospital from 2001-2011. In 2018 he was appointed Associate Dean for Curriculum and Scholarship at the Stanford School of Medicine, where he oversees medical student education and research.

Dr. Bernstein has directed an NIH- and AHA-funded basic science lab for over 35 years, focusing on how cell signaling regulates the balance between cardiotoxicity and cardioprotection. Together with Brian Kobilka, he was part of a team that created some of the first murine gene knockouts and he spent the next decade studying the role of β-adrenergic receptors in regulating cardiac function in health and disease. His more recent work applies the powerful tools of CRISPR gene editing and patient-derived induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) to study the mechanisms of heart disease, including hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, and to enhance the power of pharmacogenomics to screen patients for susceptibility to drug toxicity. Dr. Bernstein has also been at the forefront of pediatric heart failure and transplantation since the infancy of both fields. He published the first proof that the transplanted heart grows as the child grows, one of the first descriptions of post-transplant tumors, and transplantation for children born with congenital heart disease. He has led several multi-center clinical trials in pediatric solid organ transplantation.

Research Staff

Mingming Zhao, M.D.


Mingming Zhao received her M.D. degree in Nanjing Medical College, China. She completed her postdoctoral training in University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center and The Cleveland Clinic Foundation Cardiovascular Medicine. She also finished her NIH trainee program in Vanderbilt University Medical Center. She joined Bernstein’s group in 2000 as lab manager. Her research focused on the development of new mouse models of preload afterload heart failure; Performance of various microsurgery/catheterization and non-invasive echocardiogram. In addition to managing the lab, she also investigates the role of ß-AR subtypes cross talks mediated through different pathway and their differential cardioprotective/cardiotoxic effects. She also contributes to several collaborative projects.

Giovanni Fajardo, M.D.

Research Associate

Dr. Fajardo completed his MD at Universidad El Bosque, Bogotá, Colombia. He did his Postdoctoral Fellowship at Stanford University Pediatric Cardiology laboratory under Dr. Daniel Bernstein's supervision.

Dr. Fajardo was awarded the American Heart Association Postdoctoral Fellowship for his work on beta adrenergic receptor subtypes and signaling through MAPK and PKC in the pathogenesis of cardiomyopathy. After finishing his fellowship he continued working at the laboratory as a Research Associate.

He has worked on the differential cardiotoxic/cardioprotective effects of beta-adrenergic receptor subtypes in myocytes and fibroblasts in doxorubicin cardiomyopathy. He has studied the role of beta-2-adrenergic receptors in cardioprotection through crosstalk with mitochondrial cell death pathways and calcium signaling and the effects of these pathways in the development of cardiomyopathy in mice. Currently he is working on the characterization of the functional consequences of mitochondria heterogeneity in cardiomyocytes by real-time tracking of single cell mitochondrial function in large populations of cardiomyocytes and individual tracking of mitochondrial regions within a cell, allowing the study of heterogeneity at the single mitochondrion level.

Instructors and Post-Doctoral Fellows

Alison Schroer Vander Roest, Ph.D.

Research Associate

Dr. Vander Roest completed her undergraduate education at the University of Virginia and her PhD in Biomedical Engineering at Vanderbilt University. She joined Stanford as a postdoc in 2017, working on a collaborative project between Mechanical and Bioengineering, Biochemistry, and Pediatric cardiology and has been co-mentored by Dr. Beth Pruitt and Dr. Jim Spudich. Her research interests are in the field of cardiac mechanobiology, seeking to understand how the mechanical environment in the heart influences cell behavior and cardiac function throughout pediatric development and disease. Her project has focused on the effect of myosin mutations which cause hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM) using human induced pluripotent stem cell (hiPSC) derived cardiomyocytes. We have gene edited iPSCs to contain mutations in myosin which cause pediatric onset hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM) and are studying the mechanisms of disease and effects of developing therapeutics across scales. This work incorporates techniques for hydrogel micropatterning and quantification of cellular scale forces through traction force and FRET microscopy. Her background in biomedical engineering informs her quantitative and systems-based approach to biological questions, and her current appointment in the medical school working with Dr. Bernstein has provided her with the opportunity to learn more about the realities of clinical care in pediatric cardiology.