Mechanisms and Innovations in Cardiovascular Disease

Current Fellows

Jason Szafron, PhD
3/1/2021 – 2/28/2023

Project: Understanding disease progression in pediatric pulmonary hypertension through patient-specific simulations of vascular growth and remodeling

Mentor: Alison Marsden, PhD

High blood pressure in the lungs makes the heart work harder to pump against the increased load, which eventually causes heart failure and death. In children, this disease can progress rapidly, and treatment options are limited. Cells within the lung sense the frictional force from blood flow and eventually become dysfunctional when this force changes from the normal level. However, this force is difficult to measure directly. I aim to build a computer model that simulates the frictional forces and then predicts how they affect cell behavior and the blood vessel wall. I hope the model can be used to identify new treatment targets for interrupting the cells’ transition to a dysfunctional state and prevent disease progression. 

Colwyn Headley, PhD
5/1/2021 – 4/30/2023

Project: Mitochondrial Phoenix: The dysfunction, transplantation, and rejuvenation of mitochondria in cardiovascular disease.

Mentor: Philip Tsao, PhD

My research is centered around aging-associated changes in mitochondrial metabolism and signaling within cardiovascular and immune cells, and their dynamic interplay, which often favors chronic inflammation, oxidative stress, and cardiovascular disease progression.  I will examine whether rejuvenating mitochondria or boosting the delivery of mitochondrial-signaling intermediates improves vascular function and decreases cellular senescence. My long-term goal is to establish an independent research program centered on mitochondria-related signaling in the immuno-cardio-metabolic axis, and its impact on biological aging, and aging-associated co-morbidities.

Katharina Schimmel, PhD
8/1/2021 – 7/31/2023

Project: Elucidating the Pathogenesis of Arteriovenous Malformations

Mentor: Edda Spiekerkoetter, MD

I am interested in the pathogenesis of visceral arteriovenous malformations (AVMs), abnormal connections between arteries and veins, that are a characteristic for the disease Hereditary Hemorrhagic Telangiectasia. To better understand the molecular and cellular events that trigger AVM formation, I am currently creating a mouse model that develops pulmonary AVMs. This new animal model will be used, together with clinical patient samples, to determine presence of pathologically relevant secondary hits that might be necessary to drive focal AVM formation in addition to the underlying genetic susceptibility due to haplo-insufficient germline mutations in HHT causing genes such as Endoglin, ACVRL1/ALK-1 and SMAD4. Insights gained in these studies will inform us about future therapeutic strategies to treat AVMs using repurposed drugs.

Shaneice Mitchell, PhD
7/1/2020 – 6/30/2022

Project: Targeting the mechanisms of age-related clonal hematopoiesis impact on cardiovascular diseases
Siddartha Jaiswal

My research focus involves reducing the risk of cardiovascular diseases in individuals harboring clonal hematopoiesis of indeterminate potential (CHIP). I will achieve this by identifying novel small molecule inhibitors and immune-based therapies for the treatment of CHIP. To this end, I have generated an experimental system to easily model the effects of CHIP-associated mutations in a human cell line.

Heyjun Park, PhD, RD
9/1/2020 – 8/31/2022

Project: Sleep optimization may improve adverse glucose outcomes among individuals with prediabetes or type 2 diabetes who are at risk for cardiovascular diseases
Mentor: Michael Snyder

My research focuses on the role of diet (i.e., meal timing, regularity, frequency) and sleep in diabetes onset and progression. The evidence is growing that diet and sleep are closely related to each other, suggesting that their interactions may have synergistic effects on the development of adverse metabolic outcomes. Therefore, this study will utilize a real-time food tracking mobile app, a sleep tracking wearable device, and continuous glucose monitoring technologies, and will quantify dynamic relationships between diet, sleep, and glucose regulation in population at risk for T2D.

Past Fellows

Xiaoming Ouyang, PhD
7/1/2018 – 6/31/2019

Project: Modeling TKI Vascular Toxicity Using Human Induced Pluripotent Stem Cell-derived Endothelial cells (iPSC-ECs)

Mentors: Joseph Wu, MD, PhD, and Wing Hung Wong, PhD

Currently a Senior Scientist, Allogene Therapeutics

Stephanie Lindsey, PhD
11/1/2018 – 10/31/2020

Project: Development and Optimization of TEVGs by Accurately Accounting for Growth and Remodeling in Neovessel Formation

Mentors: Alison Marsden, PhD, and Jeffrey Feinstein, MD

Currently an Assistant Professor, Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering at UC San Diego

Marcy Martin, PhD
2/1/2019 – 01/31/2021

Project: Preventing Progression and Inducing Regression of Cardiopulmonary Disease

Mentors: Marlene Rabinovitch, MD, and Joseph C. Wu, MD, PhD

Kenneth Tran, MD
08/01/2019 – 07/31/2021

Project: Developing Computation Fluid Dynamic Models for Assessing Hemodynamic Perforance of Branched, Fenstrated and Mixed Endograft Designs for the Para-visceral Segment of the Aorta

Mentors: Jason Lee, MD and Alison Marsden, PhD

Currently a Vascular Surgery Resident at Stanford University

Alexander Kaiser, PhD
7/1/2018 - 6/30/2019

Project: Modeling and Simulation of the Mitral Valve

Mentors: Alison Marsden, PhD, and William Hiesinger, MD

currently a Postdoctoral Fellow at Stanford

Sheeva Rajaei, MD
07/01/2017 – 06/30/2019

Project: A Mendelain Randomization Study of Breast Feeding Duration and the Risk of Adverse Cardiometabolic Traits and Outcomes

Mentors: Themistocles "Tim" Assimes, PhD and Mark Hlatky, MD

Ian Williams, PhD
10/1/2018 - 09/30/2020

Project: Engineering Patient-Specific Microvascular Beds for Regenerative Medicine, Disease Modeling, and Drug Screening Applications

Mentors: Kristy Red-Horse, PhD, and Ngan Huang, PhD

Amber Smith, PhD
12/1/2015 - 11/30/2017

Project: Exploration of hysteresis during miR-126-mediated lymphangiogenesis; and exploration of miR-126 hysteresis in blood endothelial cells.

Mentor: Calvin Kuo, MD, PhD

currently a Postdoctoral Fellow at Stanford

Abbygail Foster, PhD
10/1/2015 - 9/30/2017

Project: The use of biomaterials to probe cell interactions and modulate cell function with the goal of translating insights to clinically relevant regenerative cardiovascular therapies.

Mentor: Sarah Heilshorn, PhD

NHLBI K01 recipient, currently a Postdoctoral Fellow at Stanford

Jin Qian, MD, PhD
7/1/2016 - 6/30/2018

Project: Development of PAH by progressive infiltration of activated macrophages that secrete LTB4 in the lung and mediate vascular remodeling

Mentor: Mark Nicolls, MD

currently a Postdoctoral Fellow at Stanford Medicine, VA Palo Alto Healthcare System

Patrick Thompson, MD
07/01/2017 – 06/30/2018

Project: Innovation in Medical Devices and Technology that Address Important Unmet Healthcare Needs: Developing Health Technology to Transform Patient Care

Mentors: Todd Brinton, MD, and Ronald Dalman, MD

University Biodesign, PHIND, and Seed Grant recipient, currently a Resident at Stanford  

Danielle Nagelberg, PhD
10/1/2016 - 10/1/2018

Project: Role of Ino80 in Coronary Artery Development Through Regulation of Endothelial Metabolic States.

Mentors: Kristy Red-Horse, PhD; co-mentor: Ashby Morrison, PhD

Nathan Itoga, MD
7/1/2016 - 6/30/2017

Project: Identifying and Reducing Variability of Operating Room Supplies and Diagnostic Imaging in Vascular Surgery Patients

Mentor: Matthew Mell, MD

currently a Vascular Surgery Resident at Stanford University

Elias Levy Itshak Salfati, PhD
7/1/2016 - 3/15/2017

Mentor: Themistocles "Tim" Assimes, PhD

currently a Senior Staff Scientist at Scripps Research Institute

Daniel Kaiser, MD
7/1/2014 - 6/30/2016

Project: Attributable risk vascular disease confers to thromboembolic events in patients with atrial fibrillation

Mentor: Mintu Turakhia, MD, PhD

currently The Kary and David Duncan Chair of Medical Device Innovation at St. Helena Hospital

Evangeline Tzatzalos, PhD
7/1/2013 - 6/30/2016

Project: Measuring Contractile Force Generation in Normal and Disease States of the Cardiovascular System

Mentors: Joseph Wu, MD; Ellen Kuhl, PhD; Chris Constantinou

currently a Senior Scientist at VitroLabs, Inc.

Theresa Dinh, PhD
7/1/2014 - 5/30/2016

Project: Control mechanisms of lymphatic endothelial cell-specific expression of FVIII

Mentors: Eugene C. Butcher, MD; Lawrence Leung, MD

AHA PTDF recipient, currently a Process Development Engineer at Innovative Micro Technology

Karina Nakayama, PhD
7/1/2014 - 6/30/2015

Extracellular matrix rigidity modulation of endothelial transdifferentiation from fibroblasts

Ngan Huang, PhD; Phil Tsao, PhD

AHA PTDF, NIH F32, Foundation Grant, and NIH K99 recipient, currently an Instructor in Cardiothoracic Surgery at Stanford

Daniel DiRenzo
9/15/2014 - 9/14/2015

Project: Elucidating the Molecular Mechanisms of TGF-β/Smad3 Stimulated Smooth Muscle Cell De-differentiation; Utilizing Smad3 Mutants to Dissect the Role of TGF-β in Neo-intimal Hyperplasia; Examining Novel Crosstalk Between TGF-β and Wnt/β-Catenin Signaling in vascular SMCs

Mentors: Nicholas Leeper, MD; Sean Wu, MD, PhD

AHA PTDF recipient, currently a Scientist at Arcus Biosciences

Elsie Ross, MD
12/1/2014 - 10/30/2015

Use of Unstructured Clinical, Radiographic and Biologic Data to Predict Risk, Presence and Progression of Peripheral Artery Disease

Mentors: Nigam Shah, PhD; Matthew Mell, MD; Nicholas Leeper, MD

Foundation Jr Faculty Grant recipient, currently an Assistant Professor of Surgery, Division of Vascular Surgery at Stanford  

Jessica Shang, PhD
9/1/2015 - 6/30/2016

Optimization of a novel surgical design for pediatric single ventricle heart patients

Alison Marsden, PhD

DOE FES, NIA R01, and DOD ONR recipient, currently an Assistant Professor of Mechanical Engineering at Rochester University

Kelly Putnam-Downing, PhD
12/1/2012 - 11/30/2013

Project: The Role of CDKN2B in Angiogenesis

Mentor: Nick Leeper, MD

NHLBI T32 recipient, currently a DPT Student at University of CO Denver

Stephanie M. Piecewicz, PhD
7/1/2012 - 7/30/2013

Project: Endothelial-Hepatocyte Signaling Crosstalk Regulates Glucose Metabolism

Mentors: Calvin Kuo, MD, PhD; John Cooke, MD, PhD

currently a Sr Program Manager, Program and Portfolio Mgmt, Translational Research at Ultragenyx Pharm Inc.

Brian Piening, PhD
9/1/2013 - 6/30/2014

Project: A Genomic Check-up: Large-scale Monitoring of Molecular Changes in the Blood

Mentors: Michael Snyder, PhD; Tracey McCoughlin, PhD 

NIH F32 recipient, currently an Assistant Member at Earle A. Chiles Research Institute

Zhifei Shao, MD, PhD
7/1/2012 - 6/30/2014

Project: Thrombomodulin in Vascular Inflammation and Adaptive Immunity: a Role beyond Anti-coagulation

Mentors: Lawrence Leung, MD; Phil Tsao, PhD; John Morser, PhD

currently a Senior Associate Scientist, Inflammation-Oncology at Amgen

Sharla Powell-White, PhD
7/1/2012 - 6/30/2014

Project: The Effect of Glycemic conditions on Vascular Dysfunction and Associated Treatments

Mentors: Wei Zhou, MD; Phil Tsao, PhD

currently an Associate Director of Research and Development at ClearLight Diagnostics

Wendy Altman, PhD
7/1/2012 - 6/30/2014

Project: Microsystems and Methodologies for the Study of Cardiomyocyte Mechanotransduction

Mentors: Beth Pruitt, PhD; Dan Bernstein, MD

currently a Process Development Engineer at Innovative Micro Technology

Jordan Plews, PhD
7/1/2011 - 8/31/2012

Project: Study of Molecular Mechanisms of Idiopathic Pulmonary Arterial Hypertension Using an iPSC Model

Mentors: Joseph Wu, MD, PhD; Marlene Rabinovitch, MD

currently a Chief Science Officer at Factor Five Regenerative Skincare

Hui Xu, PhD
9/1/2010 - 8/31/2012

Project: Engineering Microenvironments to Study and Manipulate Cell Migration

Mentors: Sarah Heilshorn, PhD; John Cooke, MD, PhD

currently a Sr. Scientist in Product Development at GRAIL Inc.

Ranjan Ray, MD, PhD
7/1/2011 - 7/30/2013

Project: The Role of TCF21 in Coronary Vascular Development and Disease

Mentors: Thomas Quertermous, MD; Pilar Ruiz-Lozano, PhD

currently an Advanced Heart Failure and Transplant Cardiologist at Sutter Health, Palo Alto Medical Foundation

Nazish Sayed, MD, PhD
9/1/2010 - 8/31/2012

Project: Role of Innate Immunity in Nuclear Reprogramming

Mentors: John Cooke, MD, PhD; Edward Mocarski, PhD; Karla Kierkegaard, PhD

NIH F32, AHA SDG, NHLBI U01, University TRAM, and NHLBI K01 recipient, currently an Instructor at Stanford