The NIH PCTC Cardiovascular Bioengineering Symposium, 1-2 March 2019, Sydney, Australia

Invited Speakers

We're delighted that so many high-profile speakers, both local and international, have accepted our invitation to speak at this year's symposium. Details of our distinguished speaker panel are given below.

Reza Ardehali

Reza Ardehali, M.D., Ph.D. is a clinician-scientist who studies the molecular mechanisms involved in heart development and disease. Of particular interest to Dr. Ardehali is the intrinsic signaling that trigger cardiac regeneration early in life, molecular events that regulate developmental decisions instructing cardiac progenitors to adopt a specific cell fate, and delivery approaches of cardiovascular progenitors into an injured heart. His laboratory also uses pluripotent stem cells for disease modeling, as well as for regenerative purposes. His research resulted in the identification of several novel surface markers that are uniquely expressed on cardiovascular progenitors. His lab reported, for the first time, structural and functional integration of hESC-derived cardiovascular progenitors in human fetal hearts. They recently developed an efficient method to generate chamber-specific cardiomyocytes from differentiating hESCs for transplantation. They have initiated pre-clinical studies of transplantation of human embryonic stem cell-derived cardiomyocytes in large animal myocardial infarction models. His lab also uses novel transgenic mouse models for lineage tracing and fate mapping during cardiac development and after experimental injury. They have developed a multi-color transgenic mouse model, “Rainbow”, which allows longitudinal investigation of clonal analysis at a single cell level. This model has been used successfully to investigate normal cardiovascular development and track the source of cellular proliferation during embryonic as well as postnatal cardiac development. Dr. Ardehali received the NIH Director’s New Innovator Award in 2014. He has also received the AHA outstanding Young Investigator Award and the Douglas Zipes Distinguished Yung Scientist Award. He was elected to ACI in 2018. He is a practicing cardiologist, specializing in advanced heart failure and heart transplantation.

Prof Burns C. Blaxall, PhD, FAHA, FACC, FISHR, FAPS

Burns C. Blaxall, PhD, FAHA, FACC, FISHR, FAPS received his PhD in Pharmacology from the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center and completed his postdoctoral fellowship at Duke University Medial Center. He has received numerous academic honors, including the Early Career Investigator Award from the American Heart Association (AHA), the Arnold “Arnie” Schwartz Award from the AHA Council on Basic Cardiovascular Sciences and the Outstanding Achievement Award from the Founder’s AHA Affiliate. He has extensive peer review service and chaired the Cardiomyopathy and Congestive Heart Failure NIH peer-review panel. His work is focused on understanding the molecular signals associated with the onset and progression of heart failure and myocardial, renal and organ fibrosis, with a particular emphasis on identifying novel therapeutic approaches.

Prof Nenad Bursac, PhD

Dr. Nenad Bursac is a Professor of Biomedical Engineering, Cell Biology, and Medicine at Duke University and one of the pioneers and leaders of the cardiac and skeletal muscle tissue engineering fields. In 1999, as a member of Dr. Robert Langer’ group at MIT, he demonstrated the first engineering of functional heart tissues using mammalian cardiomyocytes. His postdoctoral research with Dr. Leslie Tung at Johns Hopkins University resulted in new methods to control architecture and function of 2- and 3-dimensional heart cell cultures. Currently, Dr. Bursac's research involves use of cell, tissue, and genetic engineering techniques and electrophysiological and biomechanical studies to advance fields of somatic and stem cell based therapies for heart and skeletal muscle disease. For the last 20 years, Dr. Bursac’s work has pushed the boundaries of the field by demonstrating a number of “firsts”, including: the first use of bioreactors for functional cardiac tissue engineering; the first studies of electrophysiology and arrhythmias in engineered heart tissues; the first engineering of anisotropic cardiac tissue patch and methods to control patch anisotropy; the most functionally advanced mouse cardiac tissue patch; the first engineering of highly functional, large (40mmx40mm) heart tissues from human pluripotent stem cells; first engineering of functional human skeletal muscle tissues from primary and pluripotent stem cells; and first engineering of biosynthetic excitable cells and tissues for studies and treatment of cardiac arrhythmias and heart failure. Dr. Bursac has authored more than 100 scientific manuscripts, presented over 120 invited talks, and has mentored more than 30 PhD students and postdoctoral and medical fellows. He co-directs Regeneration Next Initiative at Duke University. He is a recipient of the Stansell Family Distinguished Research Award, Mendel Center Award, and Stem Cell Innovation Award. In 2014, Dr. Bursac was the president of the North Carolina Tissue Engineering and Regenerative Medicine Society. Since 2015, Dr. Bursac has been a Fellow of American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering and since 2018 a Fellow of Biomedical Engineering Society. Dr. Bursac has served on various NIH grant review panels and is a member of editorial boards of Nature Scientific Reports and NPJ Regenerative Medicine.

Denis Buxton, PhD

Dr Buxton is the Director of the Basic and Early Translational Research (BETR) Program and Associate Director of the Division of Cardiovascular Sciences at the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI). After obtaining his Ph.D. at University College, London, he went to the University of Texas Health Science Center in San Antonio to work on substrate metabolism as a postdoctoral fellow and research instructor. He then joined the faculty at UCLA where, as an associate professor of pharmacology, he studied cardiac ischemia and reperfusion using positron emission tomography. He came to NHLBI via the intramural program, where he worked on signal transduction and non-muscle myosins. After joining the extramural program, he led the multidisciplinary NHLBI Programs of Excellence in Nanotechnology, helping to develop and promote the application of nanotechnology to cardiovascular and pulmonary diseases. He was also part of the project team for the NIH Common Fund Nanomedicine program. In his current position, he was responsible for the creation of the NHLBI Progenitor Cell Biology Consortium (PCBC), an innovative program that brought together stem and progenitor call biologists to apply the burgeoning field of progenitor cell biology to understanding and treating cardiovascular, hematopoietic, and pulmonary diseases. He now leads the NHLBI Progenitor Cell Translational Consortium, which seeks to harness the scientific advances from the PCBC along with advances in tissue engineering and gene editing and move them towards clinical translation. He also oversees a portfolio of regenerative medicine grants, including Phase I and II clinical trials in cardiovascular stem cell therapy, and recently assumed responsibility for oversight of the Regenerative Medicine Innovation Catalyst Clinical Research Development and Data Hub, an NIH-wide program to promote regenerative medicine funded through the 21st Century Cures Act.

Caitlin A. Czajka, PhD

Caitlin A. Czajka, PhD, is an Associate Editor at Science Translational Medicine, where she handles manuscripts in the fields of bioengineering, regenerative medicine, medical devices, vascular and cardiovascular disease, tissue engineering, and musculoskeletal disease. She joined the journal after completing postdoctoral work at the Vascular Medicine Institute at the University of Pittsburgh. She received her Ph.D. in Biomedical Science, Molecular and Cellular Biology and Pathobiology, with a concentration in Cardiovascular Biology from the Medical University of South Carolina and her B.S.E in Bioengineering from the University of Pittsburgh. Dr. Czajka’s research experience includes work with decellularized tissue scaffolds, vascular tissue engineering, regenerative therapies for skeletal muscle injury, and therapies for pulmonary hypertension and pulmonary fibrosis.

Keiichi Fukuda, MD, PhD

Keiichi Fukuda, Professor of the Department of Cardiology in Keio University, Japan, is pioneer of the cardiac regeneration field and has been at its cutting edge for the past 20 years. His laboratory has made several contributions to our understanding of both the fundamental biology of the stem cells and how to regenerate cardiomyocytes and to transplant them into the in vivo heart. It is now widely accepted that tissue stem cells existed in the many tissues, and can differentiate into various type of cells. He first reported that bone marrow mesenchymal stem cells can be induced to differentiate into cardiomyocytes in vitro. After human ES and iPS have been developed, he changed his research direction to regenerate human cardiomyocytes from these cells for clinical use. He first developed a method to generate iPS cells from peripheral circulating T lymphocytes using sendai virus containing Yamanaka factors, which enables us to obtain iPS cells from 0.1 ml of peripheral blood. He then found several factors were expressed at the fetal future heart forming area of the embryo, and their application to ES/iPS cells can induce cardiomyocytes. He also developed novel method to purify the cardiomyocytes from ES/iPS-derivatives by the difference of metabolic energy pathway from the ES or iPS cells. These stem cells mainly utilize glycolysis pathway for ATP synthesis and DNA/amino acid production, and the end-product pyruvate was changed to lactate, which was discarded from these cells. In contrast, cardiomyocytes mainly uses TCA cycle for ATP synthesis, and utilizes lactate, which is transferred to pyruvate for energy source. Using these differences, the specific culture medium, in which glucose is depleted and lactate was supplemented, can purify the cardiomyocytes. The purified cardiomyocytes do not contain undifferentiated cells and do not form teratoma after transplantation. Current focus in Fukuda’s lab is to apply HLA-matched iPS cell-derived cardiomyocyte transplantation to the patients with severe congestive heart failure in clinical trial.

Prof Åsa Gustafsson, PhD

Åsa Gustafsson received her Ph.D. in Biomedical Sciences from the University of California San Diego in 2001. She did her Postdoctoral Fellowship (2001-2005) at The Scripps Research Institute in La Jolla. She is currently a Professor in the Skaggs School Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences at the University of California San Diego and the Vice Chair of the Biomedical Sciences Graduate Program. Her research is focused on understanding the molecular pathways that regulate mitochondrial structure, function and turnover in cardiac cells. Current research is focused on a) examining how the E3 ubiquitin ligase Parkin and mitophagy receptors (BNIP3, NIX, FUNDC1) regulates removal of mitochondria in cells; and b) determining the molecular mechanisms by which BCL-2 family proteins regulate mitochondrial function, morphology and turnover in cells. Dr. Gustafsson has received several awards such as the Outstanding Investigator Award from the International Society for Heart Research and the Established Investigator Award from the American Heart Association. Her research is supported by the National Institutes of Health, the Tobacco Related Disease Research Program, and the American Heart Association.

Robert Graham, MBBS, PhD

Robert Graham received his medical training at the University of New South Wales where he is now the Des Renford Professor of Medicine, (UNSW) and at St Vincent’s Hospital Sydney, where he worked with Dr Victor Chang. He has been the inaugural Executive Director, Victor Chang Cardiac Research Institute (VCCRI), Sydney, Australia, since returning to Australia in 1994 after 17 years in the US. There he worked at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical School, Dallas under the late Al Gilman (Nobel Laureate); the Massachusetts General Hospital, Harvard Medical School; the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where he worked under the late H. Gobind Khorana (Nobel Laureate); Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine, and the Cleveland Clinic Foundation, where he was the Robert C. Tarazi Professor and Chairman, Department of Molecular Cardiology. He maintains an active clinical practice as a consultant physician in cardiorenal diseases.

A Fellow of the Australian Academy of Science, the Australian Academy of Health and Medical Sciences, and Foreign Member, Royal Danish Academy of Sciences and Letters, his research reported in over 260 peer-reviewed papers focuses on molecular cardiology with emphasis on receptor signalling, cardiac hypertrophy and postnatal cardiac development and regeneration.

He is a Fellow, American Heart Association; Life Member, Heart Foundation of Australia (NSW Division); Member, American Society for Clinical Investigation, and the Appointments and Promotions Committees of the Garvan Institute of Medical Research; Chairman, Scientific Advisory Board, Bosch Institute, University of Sydney; Member, Board of Scientific Governors, Lowy Medical Research Institute’s MacTel Project, and Founding Board Member, Australian Cardiovascular Alliance.

Prof Richard P. Harvey AM, PhD FAA FAHMS FRS

Professor Richard Harvey received his PhD in molecular biology in 1982 from the University of Adelaide. He undertook postdoctoral studies in embryology at Harvard University, then joined the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute in Melbourne, establishing an independent group. In 1998, he relocated to the Victor Chang Cardiac Research Institute, where he is currently Co-Deputy Director and Head of the Developmental and Stem Cell Biology Division. His research focuses on the genetic basis of heart development and congenital heart disease pathology, as well as adult cardiac stem cells and cardiac regeneration.

Tzung Hsiai, MD, PhD

Dr. Hsiai is the Professor of Medicine and Bioengineering. He received his undergraduate education from Columbia University and his medical training from the University of Chicago. He completed his internship, residency and NIH-funded cardiovascular fellowship at UCLA School of Engineering and Medicine, where he developed micro-sensors to study mechano-transduction underlying vascular injury and repair. His group is instrumental in promoting team science that led to the LA PRISM Program between UCLA Bioinformatics and USC Environmental Health. His multi-disciplinary team has converged NIH-funded collaborations with Caltech, Mayo Clinic, Stanford, USC, and UCSD. He has served as the Chair of the American Physiological Society Joint Meeting with Biomedical Engineering Society, Chair of NIH 3-D printing study section, and member of AHA Scientific Planning Committee. He was elected to the American Society for Clinical Investigation, Member of National Institutes of Health Bioengineering, Biotechnology, and Surgical Science Study Section, Fellow of American College of Cardiology, Fellow of American Heart Association, College Fellow of American Institute of Medical and Biological Engineering (AIMBE), and the recipient of an American Heart Association John J. Simpson Outstanding Research Achievement Award, USC School of Engineering Junior Faculty Research Award, and UCLA SEAS Distinguished Young Alumnus Award.

Prof. Xinyang Hu, MD, PhD

Associate Professor and Attending Physician, Department of Cardiology Second Affiliated Hospital, Zhejiang University School of Medicine. Dr. Hu is an attending physician of the second affiliated hospital of Zhejiang university school of medicine and associate professor of Zhejiang University. She focuses on stem cells therapy for heart failure. She did a lot of work about hypoxia-preconditioning of MSCs from basic research to pre-clinical study and clinical study. She established the non-human primate MI model and carried out the first large-scale study of stem cell therapy for myocardial infarction in non-human primates and provided evidence to support the beneficial effects of hypoxia preconditioning stem cells on cardiac remodeling and function. She has authored 15 research papers as first author or corresponding author, such as Circulation Research, Stem Cells etc. She received AHA Travel Stipend Award in 2014 and Circulation Research Best Manuscript Award in 2016.

James Hudson, PhD

Dr James Hudson is the Group Leader for the Organoid Research Lab at QIMR Berghofer. He completed a double major in Chemical and Biological Engineering and subsequently completed his PhD on cardiac tissue engineering at The University of Queensland in 2011. He was then awarded a German Cardiology Society postdoctoral fellowship with Prof Wolfram-Hubertus Zimmermann in Germany, one of the world’s most prominent cardiac tissue engineering researchers. In 2013 Dr Hudson returned to Australia on a NHMRC ECF and is currently an NHMRC CDF and National Heart Foundation Future Leaders Fellow. Over his career Dr Hudson’s work has focused on the use of stem cell-derived heart cells for tissue engineering applications and is now working together with academic and industry partners discover new therapeutic targets for heart disease.

Timothy J. Kamp, MD, PhD

Dr. Timothy J. Kamp is the Tuchman Chair in Cardiology, Professor of Medicine, Cell and Regenerative Biology and Director of the Stem Cells and Regenerative Medicine Center at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He completed his MD/PhD training at the University of Chicago, and he did residency training in internal medicine and a fellowship in cardiovascular medicine at Johns Hopkins University. Dr. Kamp joined the faculty of the Division of Cardiovascular Medicine, University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health in 1996 where he continues to practice clinical cardiology and directs an active cardiovascular research laboratory. His research initially focused on understanding basic mechanisms of ion channel function as related arrhythmia mechanisms, and with the discovery of human embryonic stem cells, his laboratory began using human embryonic stem cells and subsequently human induced pluripotent stem cells as tools for investigating cardiovascular biology and disease as well as a potential therapeutic avenue. His laboratory has developed robust technologies to efficiently differentiate human pluripotent stem cells to cardiomyocytes and cardiac fibroblasts. His group recently developed methods of direct reprogramming to generate induced cardiac progenitor cells from somatic cells. Ongoing studies are using patient-specific induced pluripotent stem cells to study inherited cardiac diseases including long QT syndrome. Kamp and colleagues are also engaged in preclinical studies in animal models of myocardial infarction evaluating various strategies employing stem cells for cardiac repair.

Associate Prof Maria Kontaridis, PhD

Dr. Maria Irene Kontaridis is currently the Director of Research at the Masonic Medical Research Institute in Utica, NY. She also holds a part-time faculty appointment as an Associate Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School and Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Department of Medicine/Division of Cardiology in Boston, MA. Dr. Kontaridis received her undergraduate degrees (B.A. and B.S.) from the University of Florida in Classics and Chemistry, and subsequently, obtained her master's degrees both in Pharmacology and in Biomedical and Biological Sciences from Yale University in 1999 and 2001, respectively. In 2002, she was awarded a Ph.D. from Yale University for work with Dr. Anton Bennett on the role of protein tyrosine phosphatases, especially SHP2, in cell growth and skeletal muscle differentiation. Dr. Kontaridis' interest in continuing to work on SHP2 phosphatase led her to accept a postdoctoral position with Dr. Benjamin Neel, at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (BIDMC) in 2003. Her work as a postdoctoral fellow garnered extramural support from the American Heart Association and the NIH Pathway to Independence Award (K99/R00). In 2007, Dr. Kontaridis was promoted to Instructor, and in 2008, was recruited to the Department of Medicine, Division of Cardiology at BIDMC as an Assistant Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School. In 2015, she was named the Director of Basic Cardiovascular Research at BIDMC and in 2016 was promoted to Associate Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School. In 2018, Dr. Kontaridis took on a new role as the Director of Research at the Masonic Medical Research Institute in upstate NY. Dr. Kontaridis' independent research program focuses on the fundamental mechanisms underlying both congenital heart disease and end-stage heart failure, and the processes that lead to abnormal development, aberrant signaling and disease onset. She has made several seminal observations about SHP2 and its role in cardiac pathophysiology and disease, as well as in autoimmunity. Her work has been awarded grants from the Milton Foundation, the Children's Cardiomyopathy Foundation, the Saving Tiny Hearts Foundation, the Harvard Stem Cell Institute, the Alliance of Lupus Research and the National Institutes of Health (NHLBI-R01s and NCATS-TRND) as well as has garnered support from industry and pharmaceutical companies (Novartis, GSK, Arqule).

Dr. Kontaridis is also actively involved in the medical and research community and has established herself in a number of significant leadership roles. In Boston, she served as co-chair for the Joint Committee on the Status of Women at Harvard Medical School, an important group dedicated to the development and leadership of women in the Harvard community. In addition, she also served as Chair of the Research Safety Committee at BIDMC, dedicated to development of proper work ethics and safety policies for research scientists. Dr. Kontaridis continues to be a member of the Harvard Medical School Biomedical and Biological Sciences Faculty Program, where she has a joint appointment in the department of Biological Chemistry and Molecular Pharmacology and with the Leder Human Biology and Translational Medicine Program of Harvard Medical School. More nationally, Dr. Kontaridis is an appointed Fellow of the American Heart Association, where she has served as chair of the Early Career Committee for the BCVS Council and now serves on the Council of Operations as the Chair of all AHA Early Career Councils. In 2018, Dr. Kontaridis was elected to serve as a Council member for the ISHR-North American Section. She has also co-chaired and organized the Weinstein Conference for Developmental Cardiology in 2015 and the AHA BCVS Summer Conference in 2016. In 2018, she co-chaired the first ever Olympiad in Cardiovascular Medicine Symposium in Athens, Greece.

Prof Michael Laflamme, MD, PhD

Dr. Michael Laflamme is the Robert McEwen Chair in Cardiac Regenerative Medicine at University Health Network and a Senior Scientist in the Toronto General Hospital Research Institute. After obtaining an undergraduate degree in Physics at Georgetown University, Dr. Laflamme completed the Medical Scientist (MD/PhD) Training Program at Emory University, where he studied the regulation of calcium homeostasis by beta-adrenergic signaling in adult ventricular cardiomyocytes. After residency in Anatomic Pathology and subspecialty training in cardiovascular pathology at the University of Washington Medical Center, he completed a postdoctoral fellowship in the laboratory of Dr. Charles Murry, investigating the role of exogenous and endogenous stem cells in myocardial repair. His independent research career has been largely focused on the development of cell therapies based on human embryonic stem cells (hESCs), and his laboratory has made a number of important contributions in this area including 1) protocols to guide the differentiation of hESCs and induced pluripotent stem cells into cardiomyocytes and specialized cardiac subtypes (e.g. ventricular myocytes versus pacemaker cells), 2) the first proof-of-concept study showing that the transplantation of hESC-CMs can “remuscularize” scar tissue and improve left ventricular contractile function in rodent MI models, and 3) the first direct demonstration that grafts of hESC-CMs can electrically couple with host myocardium following transplantation in injured hearts. Dr. Laflamme has been the recipient of honors including the Society for Cardiovascular Pathology Young Investigator Award, the Perkins Coie Award for Discovery, the ASGCT Outstanding New Investigator Award, and the UHN Co-Inventor of the Year. He is also a board-certified physician in Anatomic Pathology and practices diagnostic cardiovascular pathology.

Prof Teng Ma, PhD

Teng Ma, PhD, is currently Professor and Chair of the Department of Chemical and Biomedical Engineering, Florida State University. Research in Dr. Ma’s group focuses on understanding the cellular, physiological, and biomechanical processes of tissue regeneration using adult mesenchymal stem cells and on developing enabling technology in cell therapy and tissue regeneration. Dr. Ma has published over 100 research articles in stem cell bioengineering and holds 4 US patents in bioreactor and regenerative technology. He is a recipient of the Developing Scholar Award at FSU (2008), an alumnus of the US Frontiers of Engineering (2006) and German and US Frontiers of Engineering (2010) by the US National Academy of Engineering. He was elected a Fellow of American Institute of Medical and Biological Engineering (AIMBE) in 2017. His research has been supported by National Science Foundation (NSF), National Institutes of Health (NIH), Department of Defense (DOD), the American Heart Association (AHA), and Florida Biomedical Research Program.


  • Postdoctoral Fellow, College of Medicine, Ohio State University, 2000
  • Ph.D., Chemical Engineering, The Ohio State University, 1999
  • B.S., Chemical Engineering, Tianjin University, 1989

Research Interests

  • Mesenchymal Stem Cell Bioengineering and Tissue Engineering
  • Bioreactor for stem cell expansion

Prof Philippe Menasché, MD, PhD

Dr Philippe Menasché is currently a clinical cardiac surgeon at the Hôpital Européen Georges Pompidou, Professor of Thoracic and Cardiovascular Surgery at the University of Paris Descartes, and co-leader of an INSERM (National Institute of Health and Medical Research) team devoted to cell therapy of cardiovascular diseases. He also has a part-time affiliation with the Department of Biomedical Engineering of the University of Alabama in Birmingham. The group has a long-standing interest in stem cells for the treatment of heart failure and has therefore developed small and large animal (including nonhuman primate) models of myocardial infarction and dilated cardiomyopathy. While the initial research has focused, both experimentally and clinically, on the transplantation of skeletal myoblasts, it has then moved towards the combination of cardiac progenitors derived from human embryonic stem cells (ESC) with a tissue engineering-based construct. The first-in-man trial testing this cell-loaded patch and primarily focused on feasibility and safety has now been successfully completed. In parallel, mechanistic studies have unraveled the predominant role of paracrine signaling and its mediation by the cell-derived extracellular vesicle-enriched secretome. Consequently, the group is now shifting its research towards a-cellular cell therapy based on the exclusive use of the secretome (isolated from pluripotent stem cell-derived cardiac progenitor cells) with the objective of further streamlining the clinical translatability of this myocardial repair strategy.

Nathan Palpant, PhD

Dr Nathan Palpant is a Group Leader at the Institute for Molecular Bioscience at the University of Queensland, Director of the Queensland Facility for Advanced Genome Editing and academic lead over cell biology and genome editing for the newly established UQ Genome Innovation Hub. He is recipient of the International Society for Heart Research Young Investigator Award and an Australian Heart Foundation Fellow. His lab uses human pluripotent stem cells to understand the molecular control points of cardiac development and disease, utilizing diverse strategies including cellular genomics, computational bioinformatics, disease modelling, and drug discovery. Current work in the lab focuses on utilizing novel computational prediction algorithms to identify novel genetic regulators of cardiac fate (Cell Stem Cell, 2018) and dissecting the complexity of animal venom toxins to discover new drugs for cardiovascular disease with current leads found to protect viability of the ischemic heart.

Peipei Ping, PhD

Peipei Ping, Ph.D., is a Professor of Physiology, Medicine/Cardiology, and Bioinformatics in the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA. Over the past 2 decades, Dr. Ping has made significant contributions to cardiovascular research, proteomics phenotyping, and Big Data science. She characterized the cardioprotective role of PKCε as well as other underlying mechanisms in cardiac injury and protection; pioneered the conceptualization and development of functional proteomics approaches to characterize signaling pathways in the heart; advanced proteomics/metabolomics technologies, including model systems, quantitative analyses, PTM studies, protein spatial/temporal dynamics, and omics data-driven biomarker discovery. Recently, she has become a critical player in the nation-wide initiative of Big Data Science and tirelessly promotes Big Data science in clinical translation for precision medicine. To date, Dr. Ping has published 200+ original articles or reviews in peer-reviews journals, including New Eng J Med, J Clin Invest, and Circulation.

A/Prof Enzo Porello, PhD

A/Prof Porrello received his PhD in Physiology from The University of Melbourne in 2009. He was subsequently awarded an NHMRC/NHF C.J. Martin postdoctoral fellowship to undertake training at UT Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas, USA, under the guidance of Prof. Eric Olson. A/Prof Porrello returned to Australia in 2012 to establish the Cardiac Regeneration Laboratory in the School of Biomedical Sciences at The University of Queensland. In 2017, he was recruited back to Melbourne to take up a joint appointment at the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute and The University of Melbourne where he currently heads the Cardiac Regeneration Laboratory and co-directs the Melbourne Children’s Centre for Cardiovascular Genomics and Regenerative Medicine (CardioRegen). A/Prof Porrello is supported by a co-funded NHMRC Career Development Fellowship and Heart Foundation Future Leader Fellowship, as well as grants from the NHMRC, ARC - Stem Cells Australia and The Royal Children’s Hospital Foundation. He is a member of the Editorial Boards of Circulation and PLoS One. A/Prof Porrello’s research on heart regeneration in the newborn has been recognized by a number of awards including the Metcalf Prize for Stem Cell Research, Heart Foundation Paul Korner Innovation Award, Heart Foundation Researcher of the Year and A.K. McIntyre Prize (Australian Physiological Society).

William Pu, MD

William T. Pu grew up in Albany, NY. He received his MS/BS degrees from Yale University in Molecular Biophysics and Biochemistry. He received his MD degree from the joint MIT-Harvard Program in Health, Sciences, and Technology. He trained in Pediatrics and then Pediatric Cardiology at Boston Children’s Hospital. He is currently Professor of Pediatrics at Harvard Medical School and the Associate Chief and Director of Basic and Translational Cardiovascular Research in the Department of Cardiology at Boston Children’s Hospital. Dr. Pu’s lab is interested in cardiac development, disease, and regeneration. His lab has made contributions to the study of cardiac gene regulation, cardiac lineages, and the use of induced pluripotent stem cells to model human disease.

A/Prof Li Qian, PhD

Dr.Qian received her undergraduate degree in biology from Fudan University and a Ph.D. in molecular and cell biology from University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. She then pursued postdoctoral training in cardiovascular and stem cell biology at Gladstone Institute, UCSF. Currently as Associate Professor and Associate Director for McAllister Heart Institute at UNC-Chapel Hill, Dr. Qian is exploring programming and reprogramming approaches for cardiac regeneration. In addition, Qian Lab takes advantage of traditional mouse genetics, cell and molecular biology, biochemistry and the recently advanced single cell omics technologies to investigate the fundamental events underlying the progression of various cardiovascular diseases as well as to discover the basic mechanisms of cardiac cell fate determination.

Prof. Gangjian “GQ” Qin, MD, FAHA

Gangjian Qin, MD, FAHA, is Professor and Vice Chair for Research at the Department of Biomedical Engineering, Director of the Molecular Cardiology Program, at University of Alabama Birmingham. Dr. Qin’s research program is dedicated to defining the molecular mechanisms that underlie cardiovascular biology and contribute to the recovery from cardiovascular disease, and to translating the results from these basic science investigations to clinical applications. His lab discovered the roles of the E2F oncogenes in the ischemic angiogenesis and blood pressure regulation; identified a unique population of cardiac stem cells in the rodent heart; characterized the signaling mechanisms of SDF-1/CXCR4 axis in the maintenance of bone marrow stem cell niche; and most recently, revealed a pivotal role of oxidative metabolism in the differentiation of endothelial progenitor cells. Dr. Qin has published over 90 original research articles in major international journals. He serves on the editorial board of dozen biomedical journals including Circulation Research and on the grant review committees for the NIH, VA, AHA, CASIS, and a number of international funding agencies. Over the last 15 years, Dr. Qin’s lab has trained 25 research trainees including junior faculties, postdoc fellows, PhD students, and undergraduate students. Ongoing research in Qin lab involves epigenetic mechanisms of cardiac differentiation of embryonic and induced-pluripotent stem cells, peptide-based nanoparticles for enhancing the therapeutic benefit of human endothelial progenitor cells in pre-clinical models, and novel signaling pathways in gluconeogenesis and adipose thermogenesis that link to the pathogenesis of obesity and diabetes.

Dr Jelena Rnjak-Kovacina, PhD

Dr Jelena Rnjak-Kovacina is a Senior Lecturer and Heart Foundation Future Leader Fellow researcher at the Graduate School of Biomedical Engineering, UNSW Sydney. Her research interests are at the interface of biology and engineering, focusing on the development of biomimetic biomaterials that direct cell interactions for enhanced vascularisation and treatment of cardiovascular disease. She completed her doctoral degree in Anthony Weiss' lab at the University of Sydney, studying synthetic human elastin as a biomaterial for skin tissue engineering. Her postdoctoral research in David Kaplan's group at Tufts University in Boston focused on novel biomaterials developed from silk fibroin to address a number of clinically unmet needs. She participates in the medtech sector through a range of activities including her role as the Treasurer and Secretary of the Australasian Society for Biomaterials & Tissue Engineering and as a member of the Centre for Commercialisation of Regenerative Medicine Australia Scientific Advisory Board.

Prof Yuji Shiba, MD, PhD

Dr. Shiba is currently a Professor of Regenerative Science and Medicine, Cardiovascular Medicine at Shinshu University. After he obtained his MD from Shinshu University in 1998, he worked as a physician/cardiologist until he started his research training. He received his PhD in 2007 from Shinshu University and moved to the University of Washington (Mike Laflamme Lab) for post-doctoral training, where he started stem cell research. He moved back to Japan in 2011 and established his new lab.

Dr. Shiba is broadly interested in the use of stem cells for cardiac repair, but particularly emphasis on:
1) Electrophysiological consequences following the transplantation of stem cell-derived cardiomyocytes
2) Preclinical transplantation studies with non-human primates

Prof Rong Tian, MD, PhD

Dr. Rong Tian obtained her MD from the West China University of Medical Sciences and her PhD in Pharmacology from Aarhus University in Denmark. She is currently professor and director of the interdisciplinary Mitochondria & Metabolism Center at the University of Washington. Her work is recognized in three inter-related areas of cardiovascular diseases: bioenergetics, metabolism, and mitochondrial biology. In the past twenty years, her laboratory has made seminal contributions to the field by combining a vigorous in vivo metabolic phenotyping with the powerful technology of proteomics and metabolomics. Dr. Tian’s research is a major stimulus to the translational research that links basic science, engineering and clinical investigations as heart failure becomes a predominant diagnosis in our aging and obese population.

Prof Hong Wang, MD, PhD, EMBA

Dr. Hong Wang received her medical training from JinagXi Medical School, an MS degree from Peking Union Medical University, a PhD degree in Biochemistry from University of Montreal, and an EMBA degree from Fox Business School in Temple University. She did her post-doctoral fellowship and then was a research associate in Harvard School of Public Health from 1996 to 1999. She joined faculty in Baylor College of Medicine as an assistant professor in 1999. She moved to Temple University School of Medicine as an associate professor in 2005, and became a tenured professor in 2007. Dr. Wang currently is Associate Dean for Research, Laura H. Carnell Endowed Chair, Director and professor for the Center for Metabolic Disease Research, Interim Chair for the Departments of Microbiology and Immunology and Professor of Pharmacology in Lewis Katz School of Medicine (LKSM). She teaches Pharmacology, Molecular Biology and Metabolic Disease in Lewis Katz School of Medicine, Graduate School, Podiatry School of Medicine, School of Dentistry at Temple University. She is an editorial member of multiple leading scientific Journals, including JCI, Circulation, ATVB, J Molecular & Cellular Cardiology and Clinical Medicine: Pathology. She is an associate Editor of Biomarker Research. Dr. Wang’s research focus on molecular mechanism underlying cardiovascular inflammation, atherosclerosis, vascular function, lipid and glucose metabolism. She is a leading scientist in hyperhomocysteinemia (HHcy) – cardiovascular disease research. She has made significant contribution to the field, including 1) established the causative role of HHcy in atherosclerosis, 2) systemically investigated the role and mechanism of HHcy on vascular pathology, HDL metabolism and inflammatory monocyte differentiation, and 3) established hypomethylation as a key biochemical mechanism for selective endothelium injury in hyperhomocysteinemia.

Anna Waterhouse, PhD

Dr Waterhouse is Head of the Cardiovascular Medical Devices Group at the Charles Perkins Centre, in the Faculty of Medicine and Health at the University of Sydney, with a joint appointment at the Heart Research Institute and membership at the University of Sydney Nano Institute. She received an ARC DECRA in 2016 and is currently a Visiting Scholar at the Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard University. Her multidisciplinary groups' research primarily combines cardiovascular medical device engineering and biological interactions at material interfaces, with a focus on biomimetic approaches to improve medical devices and diagnostics.

Prof. Florian Weinberger, MD

Florian Weinberger is a Group Leader in the Department of Experimental Pharmacology and Toxicology at the University Medical Center-Hamburg-Eppendorf. He graduated from Hamburg Medical School in 2008 and received his training at the Charité, Berlin, the University Medical-Center Hamburg-Eppendorf and the University of Washington. His research focuses on cardiac regeneration. He initially investigated the role of putative endogenous cardiac progenitor cells (Islet-1+ cells and Sca-1+ cells). More recently he developed pluripotent stem cell derived engineered heart tissue technology for cardiac repair applications and has shown that human engineered heart tissues survive after implantation on injured hearts, can couple to host myocardium and improve cardiac function after myocardial infarction.

Steve Wise, PhD

Dr Wise, BSc (Hons 1, University Medal, UWS 2001), PhD (USyd 2006) is leader of the Applied Materials Group at the Heart Research Institute (HRI) and Conjoint Clinical Senior Lecturer at the Central Clinical School of the University of Sydney. His research group focuses on the construction of platform biomaterials broadly applicable to soft tissue, bone and vascular repair applications and includes aspects of bioengineering, in vitro cell and hemocompatibility assays and transition to in vivo testing in established small and large animal models. His work has contributed to the development of (i) novel ECM-inspired modification of metal substrates relevant to improved vascular stents, (ii) new synthetic vascular graft materials engineered for a combination of mechanical and biological properties and iii) enhanced understanding of the cell-biomaterial relationship and subsequent scaffold remodelling. He has a strong publication track record including 61 peer-reviewed papers, 1 book chapter, 3 awarded and 1 PCT patents. He has attracted >$3.2M as lead CI, including recently awarded ARC linkage, NHMRC Project and NHMRC Development Grants.

Sean M. Wu MD, PhD, FACC

Wu graduated from Stanford University in 1992 where he completed majors in Biological Sciences and in Mechanical Engineering. He subsequently completed an MD-PhD training at Duke University School of Medicine and an internal medicine residency at the Duke University Hospital. He then completed a clinical and research fellowship in cardiovascular medicine at the Massachusetts General Hospital/Harvard Medical School (HMS) and at Boston Children’s Hospital. He was an Assistant Professor of Medicine at HMS from 2009 until 2012 when he returned to Stanford where he is now an Associate Professor of Medicine and, by courtesy, Pediatrics, an Associate Director at the Stanford Cardiovascular Institute, and also the Lucile Packard Foundation for Children Endowed Faculty Scholar, Stanford University School of Medicine. His research is dedicated to the identification of molecular mechanisms regulating cardiac lineage commitment during embryonic development and the biology of cardiac progenitor cells in development and disease. His research is funded by awards from the NIH/NHLBI, NIH Director's New Innovator Awards, NIH Director Pioneer Award, American Heart Association Established Investigator Award, California Institutes for Regenerative Medicine, the Endowed Faculty Scholar Award from the Lucile Packard Foundation for Children/Child Health Research Institute at Stanford, among others.

Lei Ye, PhD

Lei Ye graduated from Shanghai Medical University in 1996 where he completed his degree in clinical medicine. He completed a PhD at National University of Singapore in 2005. He was as Assistant Professor of Medicine at University of Minnesota from 2010 until 2014. Currently he is Principal Investigator at National Heart Research Institute Singapore, National Heart Centre Singapore. His research is devoted to cell therapy for treatment of heart failure and identification of molecular mechanism contributing to myocyte regeneration in large mammalian animal. His research is funded by awards from the Clinician Scientist Individual Research Grant and Open Fund - Individual Research Grant of National Medical Research Council, Singapore.

Prof. Dr. Wolfram-Hubertus Zimmermann, MD

Wolfram-Hubertus Zimmermann, M.D., is Professor of Pharmacology, and Director of the Institute of Pharmacology and Toxicology at the University Medical Center, Georg-August-University in Göttingen. He studied Medicine at the University Medical Center Hamburg-Eppendorf, DUKE University Medical School in Durham, Harvard Medical School in Boston, and the University of Cape Town. He graduated from Medical School in 1998 and earned his doctorate from the University of Hamburg in 2000. In parallel, Dr. Zimmermann completed a second academic degree in Molecular Biology at the University of Hamburg in 2001. He trained at the Institutes of Experimental and Clinical Pharmacology and Toxicology at the Friedrich-Alexander University in Erlangen and the University Medical Center Hamburg-Eppendorf, where he was promoted to the rank of Assistant Professor (Juniorprofessor) in 2003. Dr. Zimmermann completed his training in Pharmacology and Toxicology in 2006 (board certification) and was awarded the Venia Legendi (and Habilitation) in Pharmacology and Toxicology in 2007. He was appointed to his current position at the Georg-August-University in Göttingen in 2008. Dr. Zimmermann’s research interests include novel pharmacological and cell-based approaches to repair failing organs with a special emphasis on tissue engineered heart repair. Since 2011, Dr. Zimmermann is the speaker of the Göttingen partner site of the German Center for Cardiovascular Research (DZHK). He also serves as a clinical consultant in pharmacology and toxicology and reviewer for numerous journals and granting agencies. Dr. Zimmermann has published >150 articles and book chapters (H-index: 42) and is an inventor of several patents on different aspects of myocardial tissue engineering, stem cell biology, phenotypic drug screens, and innovative therapy development. He is a founder of myriamed GmbH (2012) and Repairon GmbH (2014) to accelerate the development of innovative drugs and translate tissue engineered organ repair.

Session Moderators

Associate Prof Joel L. Berry, PhD

Joel Berry, Ph.D. was born in Atlanta, Georgia USA and received his Bachelor degrees in biology and in mechanical engineering at The University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB). In 2000, he received his doctorate in Biomedical Engineering from Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem, North Carolina specializing in cardiovascular fluid mechanics, medical imaging, and tissue engineering. He has been an associate professor of biomedical engineering at UAB since 2010. His early research focused on modeling the fluid and solid mechanical effects of metallic stents placed in arteries as well as the fluid mechanical effects of vascular cell development in engineered arteries. His current research centers on development of a three-dimensional tissue engineered model system for breast cancer that could be used to culture individual cancer cells from patients and permit testing of a panel of chemotherapeutics for drug development. Dr. Berry is director of the undergraduate program in Biomedical Engineering at UAB and teaches undergraduate level bioinstrumentation and an undergraduate course pairing biomedical engineering students with physicians to innovate solutions to unsolved clinical problems.

Prof Andrew Boyle, MBBS, PhD

Andrew Boyle is Professor of Cardiovascular Medicine at the University of Newcastle. He is a practising cardiologist and has studied regenerative therapies to reverse cardiac remodelling following myocardial infarction for over 15 years. He has experience in preclinical studies and early phase clinical trials with numerous stem and progenitor cell types. HIs current research focuses on the extracellular matrix and its role in remodelling and regeneration.

Prof Gemma A Figtree, MB BS, DPhil (Oxon), FRACP, FCSANZ, FAHA

Gemma is a clinician researcher whose principal clinical interests lie in the provision of rapid percutaneous intervention to patients suffering heart attacks, as well as advanced cardiovascular imaging of both myocardial and coronary pathology. She is a Professor in Medicine at the University of Sydney, and Research Lead for Cardiothoracic and Vascular Health at the Kolling Institute and for Northern Sydney Local Health District. She is the Director of the University of Sydney’s multi-disciplinary Cardiovascular Initiative, and co-leads the Cardiovascular Theme for Sydney Health Partners, a NHMRC Advanced Health Research and Translation Centre. Gemma completed her DPhil at Oxford University in 2002 supported by a Rhodes Scholarship and has continued in the fundamental research field of oxidative signalling. She is committed to improving the care for heart attack patients- using her expertise in molecular biology to develop methods of identifying those at highest risk of adverse outcome, and discovering novel therapies to prevent and treat events, inspired by her clinical work as an interventional cardiologist. Discoveries in her Laboratory have been published in leading journals Circulation, European Heart Journal, and FRBM, with > 130 publications. GF is a principal investigator on grants >$6.5 mill. She is a current NHMRC Practitioner Fellowship, having been awarded the NHMRC Excellence Award for Top Ranked Practitioner Fellow in 2017. She is committed to the advancement of her field, and serves as a member of the Editorial Board of leading international cardiovascular journals Circulation and Cardiovascular Research. Her research and clinical perspective and leadership are recognised by her membership of the Scientific Board of Cardiac Society of Australia and New Zealand (responsible for International Relations), and her appointment to the Expert Advisory Panel for NHMRC Structural Review of Grants Program (2016-17), as well as the Clinical Issues Committee of the Heart Foundation. She is committed to the promotion and advocacy of cardiovascular research, recently appointed as President of the Australian Cardiovascular Alliance. She is a graduate of the Australian Institute of Company Directors, and serves/has served as a non-executive Director on multiple community Boards.

Dr Eddy Kizana MBBS (Hons), PhD, FRACP

Dr Kizana is Cardiologist at Westmead Hospital and Associate Professor, Sydney Medical School. He is Group Leader and Faculty at WIMR. He was awarded his MBBS (Hons) (1995) and PhD (2006) from The University of Sydney. He completed his cardiology training before embarking on an NHF-funded PhD in gene transfer technology with Ian Alexander at the CMRI. He undertook post-doctoral research training at the Johns Hopkins University with Eduardo Marbán and was awarded the Michel Mirowski, MD Fellowship from the Heart Rhythm Society. In addition to developing gene therapy strategies targeting cardiac arrhythmias, he was also collaboratively involved with molecular and stem cell-based therapies for heart failure and hypertrophy. To dovetail his clinical and research interests, he has established a research group at WIMR whose focus is to develop novel gene therapy approaches for common cardiac arrhythmias. Through local and international collaborative efforts his group has developed capabilities for producing viral vectors for gene transfer in animal models of conduction and arrhythmias

Prof Hala Zreiqat, PhD, FIOR

Hala Zreiqat is a professor of biomedical engineering at the University of Sydney and both a National Health and Medical Research Council Senior Research Fellow (2016-2020); Fellow of International Orthopaedic Research (FIOR) of the ICORS International College of Fellows (2018); Director of the Australian Research Training Centre for Innovative Bio-Engineering; Co-Director of the Shanghai-Sydney Joint Bioengineering and Regenerative Medicine Lab at Shanghai JiaoTong; Honorary Professor Shanghai Jiao Tong University and Adjunct Professor Drexel University.

She is the 2018 New South Wales Premier’s Woman of the Year. The King Abdullah II Order of Distinction of the Second Class - the highest civilian honour bestowed by the King of Jordan (2018). Fellow of International Orthopaedic Research (FIOR) of the ICORS International College of Fellows.

Her research is on the development of novel engineered materials and 3D-printed platforms for regenerative medicine, particularly in orthopaedic, dental, and maxillofacial applications. She has established national and international industry collaborations to translate her discoveries into approved medical devices. Her pioneering development of innovative biomaterials for tissue regeneration has led to one awarded (US) and 7 provisional patents, and several collaborations with inter/national industry partners. She has been awarded more than $17 M in competitive funding including from the NHMRC, ARC and the NSW Medical Devices Fund. She is the past president of the Australian & New Zealand Orthopaedic Research Society; founder and Chair of the Alliance for Design and Application in Tissue Engineering (ADATE) (2006-present); founder of IDEAL Society (Inclusion, Diversity, Equity, Action Leadership) at Harvard University (2017-); member of the National Health and Medical Research Senior Research grant review panel, the Australian Research Council Expert College and German Research Foundation. Prof. Zreiqat’s overall objective is to advance collaborative research ventures and build educational and industry linkages nationally and internationally in the field of musculoskeletal disorders and biomaterials research.