Kumar lab members

Maya Kumar, PhD
Assistant Professor, Pediatrics - Pulmonary Medicine


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.

Madeleine Noelle McGlynn


Madeleine is a Premed sophomore at Stanford University majoring in Human Biology with a double concentration in Biomedical Computation and Neuroscience. 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.

Kumar lab alumni

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.

Alexis Froistad
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.

David Hou


David is currently pursuing a joint BA/MD in the Honors Program for Medical Education at the Feinberg School of Medicine at Northwestern University.