Brian was into math and chemistry while in high school in Korea and in the UK. In an attempt to combine the two fields, he majored in Chemical Engineering at MIT. During this time, he accidently became fascinated with Biology after taking a seminar class taught by Dr. Rudolf Jaenisch, and witnessing the completion of the Human Genome Project at the Whitehead Institute.

After obtaining an additional degree in Biology from MIT, he went on to New York University School of Medicine, and then completed his internal medicine training at UCLA. At UCLA, he became interested in the genetics of early onset coronary artery disease (CAD) and joined the lab of Dr. Aldons Jake Lusis. In Dr. Lusis’s lab, Brian learned to analyze the whole transcriptome of cell lines treated with various atherogenic phospholipid (OxPL) products to understand the gene-environment interactions underlying the endothelial cell response to oxidized OxPL. Furthermore, he performed functional genetics studies on the 9p21 CAD GWAS locus using animal disease models.

Brian then came to Stanford University to complete his fellowships in cardiology and interventional cardiology, and to join the lab of Dr. Thomas Quertermous. In the TQ lab, Brian investigated the role of transcription factors TCF21 and AHR regulating smooth muscle cells in atherosclerosis utilizing human cell lines, lineage-tracing mice models and single-cell sequencing of the vascular wall.

His current research interests are in 1) resolving the mechanism of tobacco/e-cigarette and pollution derived adverse cardiovascular effects, and 2) in deciphering the gene-environment interactions that confer protection or susceptibility to these environmental pollution derived heart disease.

In his spare time, Brian likes to spend time with his family including his two young daughters, follow NYTimes recipes, go running, and play various non-contact sports.

Meena Easwaran, MS

Lab Manager/Research Associate

Meena received a Master’s degree in Medical Sciences from the University of Florida, Gainesville in 2015. Her graduate school thesis project was centered on establishing the role of major periodontal microbial pathogens in induction of atherosclerosis in LDLR-/- mice. Upon completion of her degree, she worked in the Department of Microbiology at the University of Texas Health Science Center, Houston, TX.

She also worked in the Department of Molecular Virology and Microbiology at Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, TX. She then joined the Department of Otolaryngology at Stanford University in 2016. She is also a member of the Kim lab at the Department of Cardiovascular Medicine at Stanford since 2020.  At Stanford, she developed skills related to murine inhalation toxicity testing using tobacco and e-cigarette products. She is an expert in designing and conducting these exposures, primarily in vivo (mice) for assessing respiratory system toxicity. She will be extending this work to evaluate the toxic effects of tobacco and e-cigarette products in the cardiovascular system, specifically in transgenic mice. Her areas of expertise also include rodent (mouse) colony management, animal husbandry, microbiology, molecular biology, histology, immunostaining, microscopy, and image/data analysis.

Tracy Qin


Guyu (Tracy) Qin obtained a bachelor’s degree of veterinary medicine, then she earned her Master of Statistics and Ph.D. in Fish Genetics at Auburn University. At AU, she joined the lab of Dr. Rex Dunham and did the gene editing of catfish reproductive hormones followed by hormone therapy to restore fertility. She also learned to utilize different pipelines to analyze NGS data which helped her to do more disciplinary research, such as analyzing microarray data to detect changes in gene expression in embryos of channel catfish, exposed to different levels salinity.

Tracy then went to Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Harvard Medical School for her two-year postdoc training. She joined Dr. Zhe Li lab and focused on developmental oncology of epithelial cancer including ovarian epithelial cancer and breast cancer. She purified stem-like cells by FACS, established 3D fallopian tubal epithelial (FTE) cell organoids culture system, utilized mouse models, and performed single-cell sequencing of fallopian tube and ovarian surface organ tissues to understand the niche regulation of FTE stem cells and origin of epithelial ovarian cancer.

Then Tracy came to Stanford University to join the lab of Dr. Kim. Her current research interests are 1) identifying how dioxin affects the smooth muscle cell (SMC) phenotype transition to Chondromyocytes through scRNAseq and scATACseq in mouse models, and 2) characterizing how AHR interacts with other transcription factors in SMC lineage cells.

Outside of work, Tracy enjoys tasting all kinds of delicious food. In order to burn calories, she tried kinds of sports, among which K-pop dance and skiing are her favorites.

Isabella Damiani

Postdoctoral Scholar

Isabella earned a Bachelor’s degree in Biotechnology with an experimental thesis on the evaluation of new platinum derived drugs in ovarian cancer. Then she obtained her MS degree in Pharmaceutical Biotechnology at University of Milan. During the second year of her MS degree she worked on the development of novel engineered proteins for the treatment of breast cancer in collaboration with the University of Wroclaw.

In 2018 she won a promising young researcher scholarship at University of Milan, where she started to focus her attention on the effects of cigarette smoke during the atherosclerotic process. Currently, she is a PhD student in Pharmacological biomolecular sciences, experimental and clinical at University of Milan. Her current research focuses on studying the in vitro effects of next-generation tobacco products and traditional cigarettes on vascular smooth muscle cell phenotypic modulation in regard to atherosclerotic plaque formation.