Kumar lab members
Maya Kumar, PhD
Assistant Professor, Pediatrics - Pulmonary Medicine
The Esther Ehrman Lazard Faculty Scholar
Dr. Kumar completed her undergraduate education at Williams College and was a Fulbright Scholar in Switzerland before beginning her PhD training at Harvard University in the lab of Dr. Doug Melton, a pioneer in the field of human embryonic stem cells. After graduate school, Dr. Kumar was a postdoctoral fellow in the lab of Dr. Mark Krasnow in the Department of Biochemistry at Stanford University where she developed new methods to probe the behavior of individual cells in the developing lung and used them to understand how healthy airway and blood vessel walls are built and maintained. In her own lab she uses molecular and genetic tools to understand how blood vessels become thickened and blocked in pulmonary hypertension, a serious disease affecting children with BPD and congenital heart disease.
Lea Steffes, MD
Instructor, Pediatrics - Pulmonary Medicine
Dr. Steffes, a Wisconsin native, completed medical school and pediatric residency at the Medical College of Wisconsin. She then moved to the Bay Area and completed her clinical fellowship in pediatric pulmonary medicine at Stanford University in 2020. Additionally, Dr. Steffes received further post-doctoral training in the laboratories of Dr. Maya Kumar and Dr. David Cornfield, studying the cellular and molecular mechanism driving pulmonary vascular disease. In addition to her role as an Instructor in Pediatrics in the division of Pulmonary Medicine, Dr. Steffes is also completing an advanced clinical fellowship in Pulmonary Hypertension at Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital Stanford. Her clinical work consists of caring for patients with pediatric pulmonary and pulmonary vascular diseases such as pulmonary hypertension, bronchopulmonary dysplasia, interstitial lung disease, respiratory failure, chronic cough and asthma. Her research is focused on the vascular changes seen in pulmonary hypertension, more specifically understanding the cellular characteristics of occlusive neointimal lesions, the abnormal cells that block pulmonary blood flow in pulmonary hypertension. In her most recent work, Dr. Steffes identified a subset of healthy vascular smooth muscle cells that are the cell of origin for the pathologic neointimal cells and a specific signaling pathway, that when blocked, inhibits the formation of neointimal lesions. Dr. Steffes is currently employing advanced single cell sequencing technologies to further understand neointimal cells with the ultimate goal identifying new therapies for pulmonary hypertension, a fatal disease with no known cure. Lea has been awarded a Parker B. Francis Fellowship and a Chan Zuckerberg Biohub Physician–Scientist Fellowship.
Adam M. Andruska, MD
Instructor, Medicine - Pulmonary, Allergy & Critical Care Medicine
BS '22 Human Biology
I graduated with my Bachelor's in Integrative Human Biology from UC Berkeley in 2022. I love to learn about anything medicine-related, and I'm eager to collaborate with Dr. Kumar and her team! I'm a Bay Area native and live in San Francisco. Outside work, I enjoy fitness, sewing, crocheting, and spending time with friends.
Jeffrey Ni, MD
Fellow, Pediatrics - Pulmonary Medicine
Pulmonary hypertension is a heterogenous group of diseases that remains progressive and fatal, oftentimes leading to right heart failure and the need for lung transplantation. Available medical therapies for pulmonary hypertension are largely supportive but not curative, thus understanding the underlying molecular and cell signaling pathways that drive the formation of obstructive lesions, or "neointima", in the pulmonary vasculature is essential for developing therapies to prevent and reverse pulmonary hypertension. My research aims to characterize the activity and downstream effects of the canonical Wnt signaling pathway in neointima formation using single cell sequencing, in situ hybridization, and Cre-lox recombination in a variety of rodent models and human tissue samples.
Personally, I spent most of my years in the windy Midwest, attending Washington University in St. Louis for undergraduate, Loyola University in Chicago for medical school, and the University of Chicago for pediatric residency training. During residency, I was drawn to pediatric pulmonology because of the balanced ability to practice in both the inpatient and outpatient settings, the focus on understanding and applying core pathophysiology principles to challenging medical cases, and the opportunity to participate in exciting and innovative research. I am also passionate about holistic and interdisciplinary patient care, impacting medical health disparities and improving access to subspecialty care. In my free time, I enjoy travelling and hiking with my wife, being humbled in Muay Thai, attempting to dance hip hop, and playing and listening to music.
Kumar lab alumni
Madeleine Noelle McGlynn
BS '23 Human Biology
Madeleine completed a Bachelor of Science with Honors in Human Biology in 2023 with a concentration in Cancer Epidemiology and Health Policy, and a minor in Humanities. Prior to joining the Kumar Lab in 2016, Madeleine formulated, developed, and executed a research project to improve the viability of in-vivo CRISPR-Cas9 gene-editing treatments through codon optimization of the Cas9 gene for increased protein expression in HepG2 cells. In the Kumar lab she completed her thesis entitled “Investigating the Effect of the Tyrosine Kinase Inhibitor, Imatinib, on Arterial Remodeling in a Murine Model of Pulmonary Arterial Hypertension”. Maddie won the Joshua Lederberg Award for Academic Excellence in Human Biology as well as the Oral Communication Program Excellence in Honors Thesis Presentation Award. Currently Maddie is a Human Biology Course Associate at Stanford University where she helps lead, develop, and teach human biology curriculum (ecology, evolution, genetics, cell biology, physiology) for 200+ students throughout the academic year.
Wenming Zhang, PhD
Dr. Zhang holds a Ph.D. in Craniofacial Molecular Biology from the University of Southern California with a BS in Biotechnology. Her dissertation titled “Lung Mesenchyme Cell Biology” was completed in Dr. Wei Shi’s lab at Children’s Hospital of Los Angeles and contributed novel methods to the cell biology of pulmonary pathogenesis. In addition, Dr. Zhang’s work has been recognized by the American Thoracic Society with an Abstract Scholarship Award and she was awarded for selected talk at Gordon Research Conference. Dr. Zhang possesses significant experience in Next Generation Sequencing, Mass Cytometry, Confocal Microscopy, and several other pertinent methods. Furthermore, Dr. Zhang’s publications have appeared in the Proceedings of the National Academies of Sciences, the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, Science Immunology, and the American Journal of Physiology.
BA '19, Human Biology
Alexis Froistad graduated from Stanford in 2019 as a Human Biology major with a focus in human physiology and cancer. During her time in the Kumar Lab, Alexis helped to develop a novel pulmonary hypertension mouse model, perfected tissue preparation and imaging techniques, and contributed to experimental design and execution that led to key insights into neointimal lesion development in PAH. Outside of the lab, Alexis also won two national championships (2016, 2018) as a member of the Stanford Women's Volleyball Team and still plays beach volleyball recreationally with her friends. After graduation, she took an analyst position at Health Advances, an SF-based healthcare consulting firm working across biopharma, diagnostics, medical devices, and other health sectors. Some of her recent work has involved understanding the molecular biomarker testing landscape for non-small cell lung cancer and how it may change as therapies evolve and improve. Long term, Alexis hopes to attend medical school and influence the healthcare space with her own patient care.