School of Medicine
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Chia Yu Alex Chang
Instructor, Microbiology & Immunology - Baxter Laboratory
Current Research and Scholarly Interests Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD) is an X-chromosome-linked genetic disease that is caused by a mutation in the dystrophin gene and affects 1 in every 3500 boys. DMD patients suffer progressive muscle wasting and eventual cardiorespiratory failure that results in an early death in the second or third decade of life. Although extensive research effort has been invested, lack of a good mouse model that mimics the cardiac failure hinders research. We have developed a novel mouse model that exhibit all the symptoms found in DMD patients and our research is aimed at understanding the cardiac failure in DMD for future therapeutic interventions. Our mouse model fully recapitulates the DMD symptoms because we also took into account of the size of human protection DNA on chromosomal ends (telomere) compared to mouse. We would like to study the cause of cardiac failure in our mouse model by 1) determine if telomere shortening is specific to cardiomyocytes, 2) evaluate the level of cellular damage caused by oxidative stress and 3) identify the source of oxidative stress. These experiments will help us to better understand cardiac failure in DMD patients and allow testing of therapeutic interventions.
Clinical Instructor, Medicine - Cardiovascular Medicine
Bio Prior to a career in medicine, Dr. Chang was an English major and subsequent novelist at night. During the days, he taught literature part-time at Rutgers University, and for extra money, worked in a laboratory in NYC washing test tubes. Inspired by his laboratory mentor, he began volunteering at the hospital next door, and developed a love for interacting with patients. Through this experience, he saw how caring for others could form deep bonds between people - even strangers - and connect us in a way that brings grandeur to ordinary life.
In addition to seeing patients, Dr. Chang is a physician-scientist devoted to advancing the field of cardiovascular medicine. His research has been focused on identifying a new genetic organism that better models human heart disease than the mouse. For this purpose, he has been studying the mouse lemur, the smallest non-human primate, performing cardiovascular phenotyping (vital signs, ECG, echocardiogram) on lemurs both in-bred (in France) and in the wild (in Madagascar) to try to identify mutant cardiac traits that may be heritable - and in the process, characterize the first high-throughput primate model of human cardiac disease.
William Clusin, MD
Associate Professor of Medicine (Cardiovascular Medicine)
Current Research and Scholarly Interests Cardiac action potentials; tissue culture, voltage, clamp technique; role of calcium in ischemia arrhythmias; coronary, artery disease; myocardial infarction.
Ronnie Thomas Collins
Clinical Associate Professor, Pediatrics - Cardiology
Current Research and Scholarly Interests My research endeavors are focused on populations with connective tissue disorders that manifest as cardiovascular abnormalities, such as Williams, Marfan, and Loeys-Dietz syndromes. Additionally, as a member of the California Center of BD-Steps II, I study birth defects associated with congenital heart disease.
John P. Cooke, MD, PhD
Professor of Medicine (Cardiovascular Medicine), Emeritus
Current Research and Scholarly Interests Our translational research program in vascular regeneration is focused on generating and characterizing vascular cells from human induced pluripotential stem cells. We are also studying the therapeutic application of these cells in murine models of peripheral arterial disease. In these studies we leverage our longstanding interest in endothelial signaling, eg by nitric oxide synthase (NOS) as well as by nicotinic cholinergic receptors (nAChR).