Our Team

Principal Investigator

Eric Gross, MD, PhD
Principal Investigator

I am a member of the Stanford Center for Asian Research and Education (CARE), Cardiovascular Research Institute, and Bio-X.  I have an extensive background in biomedical engineering, pharmacology, a board-certified anesthesiologist, and funded by the NIH continuously since 2011.  

My research group is within the School of Medicine at Stanford University.  Perioperative organ injury are acute organ injuries that occur while undergoing surgery including acute myocardial infarction, stroke, and gut, lung, and kidney injury.  My laboratory research focuses on developing new models and cutting-edge strategies to better understand how genetic variants in Asians impact perioperative organ injury.  In addition, our laboratory also focuses on how these genetic variants in Asians also impact exposures to alcohol and e-cigarettes.

Current Lab Members

Freeborn Rwere, PhD

I am interested in studying the genetic variants of mitochondrial ALDH2 that cause alcohol flushing in East and non-East Asians, particularly ALDH2*2 (E504K), ALDH2 R101G and ALDH2 R114W.  I am also interested in study of genetic variants of the widespread microsomal cytochromes P450 system, particularly, the drug metabolizing mammalian cytochrome P450 2C19. We are involved in genotyping individuals (East and non-East Asians in the Bay Area) for loss of function CYP2C19 variants namely: CYP2C19*2, *3 and *5 and developing biochemical assays for their characterizations.

Vanessa Zambelli, PhD
Visiting Instructor

I am a pain researcher interested in understanding the mechanisms involved in opioid-induced side effects. Particularly, I am investigating the role of reactive aldehyde metabolism in opioid-induced tolerance to the analgesic effect.

Didi Goodnough, MD, PhD

I was born in MA and went to medical school at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, OH. I graduated from the Medical Scientist Training Program at Case and my doctoral work was in the field of cardiovascular physiology and mechanics using MRI techniques. I am currently an anesthesiology resident at Stanford and plan to join the Department as a Fellow in Anesthesia Research and Medicine (FARM) in 2020. I am excited to join the Gross lab where I will study the mechanisms of anesthetic drugs. Outside of the hospital, I spend my time with my husband and 3 kids. 

Feng Xiao
Visiting Scholar

I am an MD and PhD for the Department of Anesthesiology, and The Second Xiangya hospital of Central South University, China.  His previous research focused on the perioperative organ protection and sepsis induced cardiac injury.

Yang Bian, MD, PhD
Research Assistant

I am interested in TRPV1 study. Capsaicin, the pungent ingredient of the hot chili pepper, is known to act on TRPV1. Researching on TRPV1 making it a promising target for pain-relieving drugs. 

Xuan Yu, Phd
Postdoctoral Scholar

As a researcher in cardiovascular science,  I joined Dr. Eric Gross’s lab and began to investigate how reactive aldehyde production and metabolism affects the cardiopulmonary system.

Barbara Hung, BS
Life Science Research Professional I

I graduated from UC Davis with a double major in pharmaceutical chemistry and Economics, as I am passionate about biomedical research and medicine. I am delighted to join the team to study the mitochondrial ALDH2*2 variant, which limits the metabolism of reactive aldehydes and is common among East Asian individuals,  accounting for ~8% of the world population. Currently, I am involved in an e-cigarette project with a focus on the effects of the chemicals on the cardiovascular system.

Jessica Hengelage, MD Candidate
Research Assistant

I am attending medical school at the Westfälische Wilhelms-University Münster in Germany and have a bioscientific background. I’m delighted to join the Gross lab where I will focus on clinical breath research as well as study the mechanisms of anesthetic drugs. In my free time, I make music and explore California's mountain bike trails.

Rafaela Chitarra Rodrigues Hell, PhD
Life Science Research Professional

I am a neuroscientist interested in genetic editing tools for the development of models that help to understand the cellular and molecular processes involved in the central nervous system and myocardium injuries. Specifically, my focus is the use of DNA editing tools that help to better understand how the widely distributed genetic variants contribute to acute damage to organs such as the brain and heart during surgery. 


Katie Chang
Student Researcher

I’m from the Bay Area and currently a freshman at Stanford interested in majoring in Human Biology with a concentration in Brain and Behavior. On campus, I’m also involved in organizations like Stanford Women in Medicine, the Asian Pacific American Medical Student Association, and Stanford Marketing Group. In my free time, I love to draw, find trendy dessert places, and hang out with my friends.

Alex Chen, MD Candidate
Undergraduate Student

I am in my second-year at UCLA from the Bay Area.  I am currently majoring in Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Biology with the goals of pursuing biomedical research and attending medical school.

Ariel Lee, MD Candidate
Visiting Student Researcher

I am pursuing my medical degree at the UC Irvine School of Medicine, where I am a leader in Christian Medical & Dental Associations (CMDA), Orange County Transitions in Health Care Program (OCTHP), and National Alzheimer's Buddies (NAB). I am involved in otolaryngology (ENT), head and neck surgery, and Alzheimer's and related dementia research in my home institution. 

Cheryl Zhang, MD Candidate
Visting Student Researcher

I am current medical student at Loyola Stritch School of Medicine. Prior to starting medical school, I had a career in marketing and worked at Dominos in digital media followed by a research year at Stanford with Dr. Tali Ball in the STAR Lab. Some of my hobbies include snowboarding, baking, and traveling.

Division Manager

Christina Lum
Research Division Manager

Past Members

Postdoctoral and Visiting Scholars

Shufang He, PhD
Xiaocong Zeng MD, PhD
Stacy McAllister, PhD
Pritam Sinha Roy, PhD
Yun Wu, MD
Nana Maria-Wagner, MD
Leonie Weijermars MD, PhD
Honit Piplani, PhD
Yao Lu, MD

Medical Students

Joe White
Helen Heymann MD, MS
Raymond Liu
Michael Do, MD
Andre Pinesett, MD, MBA

Undergraduate Students

Ri Chen, BS
Sunwoo Kang, BS
Annabel Chen, BS
Kevin Zhou
Monica Chowaniec
Zhuldyz Zhanzak
Megana Vasu
Adriana Gardner
Thomas George