To Leverage Scientific Innovation and Discovery to Cure Children’s Heart Disease

Latest News

May 2023 - Congratulations to our BASE PhD students selected as 2023 Stanford Bio-X Fellows! Danielle Klinger (Bioengineering) from the Skylar-Scott Lab will work on “Engineering organoid models of early cardiac developmental stages” and Benjamin Doughty (Genetics) from the Engreitz and Greenleaf Labs will focus on “Deciphering the mechanisms of non-coding genetic variation in enhancers”.  

April 2023 Gifford Lab undergraduate researcher Ximena Sanchez featured in the Stanford Report story on “what it means – and what it takes – to lead”. Read the article here.

March 2023 - BASE students are among the prestigious National Science Foundation Graduate Research FellowsGifford Lab Stem Cell PhD student Julie Sanchez will study “Investigating Cardiac Neural Crest Cell Dysfunction in Heart Development”. Skylar-Scott Lab undergraduate student Alana Mermin-Bunnell – a senior in Stanford Bioengineering – also received the NSF GRFP award. Congrats Julie & Alana!

March 2023 - New publication out from Dr. Marlene Rabinovitch’s lab! Dr. Lingli Wang led a research project entitled “Dysregulated Smooth Muscle Cell BMPR2–ARRB2 Axis Causes Pulmonary Hypertension”, which provides important insights into how to potentially prevent or reverse the progression of pulmonary arterial hypertension. Read more about the study in the press release here and the publication in Circulation Research.

January 2023 - Two BASE postdocs were awarded the American Heart Association + Children’s Heart Foundation Postdoctoral Fellowship! Congrats to Dr. Nirmal Vadgama from the Gifford Lab whose project will focus on “Defining the neural crest's role in CHD and associated comorbidities using single-cell epigenomics and deep learning” & to Dr. Dulguun Amgalan from the Engreitz Lab whose project on “Regulatory maps of endothelial cell differentiation to connect congenital heart disease risk variants to function” was renewed!

BASE Spotlight: Debbie Lee Lian Ho, Staff Researcher from the Skylar-Scott Lab


What is your role?

I am a Staff Researcher in the Skylar-Scott lab and my main role is to establish a scalable cell culture-to-bioprinting pipeline. Prior to our current lab manager joining, I also co-managed the lab with Dr Stacey Lee, who is also a Staff Researcher.

What do you enjoy most about your role?

The Skylar-Scott lab is highly collaborative and multidisciplinary – we want to succeed and help each other succeed in tissue engineering. I love that we support and mentor each other generously in areas of our respective expertise. For example, I provide cell culture expertise to our mechanical engineers or rheologists, and in turn, I learn from them when I need to build machines or investigate the physical properties of materials.

Where were you before you came to Stanford?

I completed my Masters at the University of Cambridge specializing in Stem Cell Biology and Regenerative Medicine.

Share a bit about one of your research projects/experiences (past or current):

Since 2021, I have had the privilege of leading a team of at least 21 academic colleagues and industry collaborators to grow ~4 billion human induced pluripotent stem cell aggregates in 1 L bioreactors. These cellular aggregates maintain pluripotency in culture and can differentiate into derivatives of all three germ layers. Furthermore, we condensed these aggregates into wholly-cellular bioinks, which have favorable rheological characteristics for 3D bioprinting. These bioinks were successfully bioprinted and differentiated into early neuronal and vascular tissue. Our work is now published in Advanced Healthcare Materials in Dec 2022.

Who is a scientist that inspires you, and why?

Prof. Shinya Yamanaka! Inspired by his discovery of induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs), I chose to pursue my BSc Medical Sciences (Hons I) at the University of Edinburgh, and have worked with stem cells since. iPSCs are cells that make copies of themselves, but at the same time have the potential to turn into any adult cell type in the body. These are an invaluable source of cells for engineering tissues for transplantation therapy or disease modelling, which are used to fuel a wide variety of biomedical research.

What are your favorite activities outside of work?

Flower viewing, travelling, and meeting friends.

What do you hope to be doing 10 years from now?

I would continue research and development in the field of tissue engineering, but I am open to exploring the various career paths available to bioe