Thesis Committee

Cristofer Calvo (2019 - 2025)

Graduate student, Molecular and Development Biology, University of Cincinnati
PhD Supervisor: Douglas Millay, PhD

Cris has been working on discovering new factors that regulate/maintain the neuromuscular junction under the conditions of denervation and reinnervation using mouse models. He has performed snRNAseq on denervated muscle to understand the transcriptional response and biology of some of these factors. Specifically, he has been focused on determining the role(s) of the Gramd1 gene under denervation and reinnervation using a knockout mouse model.

Zhiyun Yu (2019 - 2022)

Graduate student, University of Cincinnati, Cancer & Cell Biology
PhD Supervisor: Mingxia Gu, MD, PhD

Zhiyun is interested in the coronary endothelium development and pathology in hypoplastic left heart syndrome (HLHS). Previously, single-cell transcriptome analysis of HLHS fetal heart tissue, uncovered a population of abnormal coronary arterial endothelial cells (AECs) with loss of arterial identity and excessed cell cycle arrest. This was thought to play a role in disease progression and affect prognosis of surgery. Zhiyun’s dissertation project will investigate the disease phenotypes of HLHS AECs and the underlying molecular mechanism using induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs)-derived ECs from patients.

Nivedhitha Velayutham (2016 – 2022)

Graduate Student, University of Cincinnati, Molecular & Developmental Biology
PhD Supervisor: Katherine Yutzey, PhD

Nivedhitha is interested in understanding postnatal development of the mammalian heart, particularly the transient regenerative capacity of neonatal cardiac muscle. Her dissertation research focuses on the molecular and cellular mechanisms involved in cardiomyocyte proliferation and cell cycle arrest in the neonatal period, in pigs and mice.

Lisa Green (2016 – 2022)

Graduate Student, University of Cincinnati, Pharmacology and Systems Physiology
PhD Supervisor: Michael Tranter, PhD

Lisa is interested in the changes in gene expression throughout the progression of heart failure. The Tranter Lab has shown that HuR, an RNA binding protein, may play a role in the upregulation of pathological genes networks in the failing heart. Lisa’s dissertation project will focus on the role of HuR in the fibroblasts with a specific interest in cardiac fibrosis.

Samuel Slone (2016 – 2022)

Graduate Student, University of Cincinnati, Pharmacology and Systems Physiology
PhD Supervisor: Michael Tranter, PhD

Sam is interested in the molecular and physiological changes during acute cardiac ischemia/reperfusion (I/R) injury. Cardiac expression of the RNA binding protein HuR has been shown to be increased within three days post I/R and play a role in post-infarct remodeling but the role of HuR in myocyte cell death/survival has not been elucidated. Sam's dissertation project will investigate HuR's role in apoptosis via the ROS-p38 MAPK pathway during acute I/R.

Michael Petrany (2017-2020)

MD/PhD Student, Cincinnati Children’s Hospital/University of Cincinnati,
Molecular & Developmental Biology
PhD Supervisor: Doug Millay, PhD

Michael's research was focused on understanding the behaviors of muscle stem cells in the context of degenerative muscle disease. Specifically, he investigated the role of muscle stem cell fusion in the chronic regeneration that characterizes Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD). He was also interested in the development of gene delivery techniques and novel therapies for genetic diseases such as DMD.

Melanie Gartz, MS, MHS (2018 – 2020)

Graduate Student, Medical College of Wisconsin, Cell Biology
PhD Supervisor: Jennifer L. Strande, MD, PhD

Melanie’s research interests were center around understanding the mechanisms underlying cardiac failure in Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy (DMD). Currently, her project utilized exosomes secreted by DMD iPSC- derived cardiomyocytes to gain greater understanding of the intracellular signaling consequences that contribute to this unique cardiomyopathy.

Jiuzhou Huo (2016– 2020)

Graduate Student, University of Cincinnati, Pharmacology & Cell Biophysics
PhD Supervisor: Jeffery Molkentin, PhD

Jiuzhou was a graduate student in the Pharmacology program at the University of Cincinnati. Her thesis project was to investigate the role of mitochondrial calcium handling proteins on mitochondrial- mediated death signaling in striated muscle disorders.

Annie Roessler (2016– 2018)

Graduate Student, Loyola University Chicago, Health Sciences Division
PhD Supervisor: Walter Keith Jones, PhD

Annie was interested in the intersection of the nervous system and the cardiovascular system during myocardial infarction and ischemia-reperfusion injury. Her dissertationresearch was focused on the neurobiology and molecular mechanisms of electrically induced cardioprotection.

Kristin Luther, PhD (2015-16)

Graduate Student, Loyola University Chicago, Health Sciences Division
PhD Supervisor: Walter Keith Jones, PhD

Kristin Luther's dissertation work explored the role of miRNA in cardioprotection in the contexts of ischemic preconditioning and mesenchymal stem cell (MSC) paracrine effects. In ischemic preconditioning, a small set of miRNAs that regulate the expression of heat shock proteins are decreased, allowing the expression of these protective proteins to increase, which reduces cell death from ischemia-reperfusion injury. She also investigated the role of miRNA in MSC paracrine effects mediated by small extracellular vesicles known as exosomes. She determined that miR-21 is transferred from MSCs to cardiomyocytes, where it downregulates the expression of the pro-apoptotic proteins PTEN and PDCD4. Her other committee members included her mentor Dr. Keith Jones, and Drs. Seth Robia, Michael Tranter, and Michael Zilliox. She graduated in December 2016, and continues to study stem cell exosomes for heart disease in the lab of Dr. Eduardo Marban at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles.

Sarah Prins, PhD (2014)

Graduate Student, Loyola University Chicago, Health Sciences Division
PhD Supervisor : Toni Pak, PhD

Sarah’s PhD work was focused on how pubertal binge EtOH exposure affects microRNA expression in sexually dimorphic patterns throughout pubertal development. Her research studies determined that microRNAs play a major role in pubertal hippocampus development as well as hippocampus dysfunction following adolescent alcohol abuse. She is currently an associate medical writer at Prescott Medical Communication Group.

Stefan Mazurek (2009-2015)

Graduate Student, Loyola University Chicago, Health Sciences Division
PhD Supervisor : Aleksey Zima, PhD

Stefan has been working on determining the role of ROS production in the regulation of RyR-mediated calcium release under pathological conditions induced by ischemia-reperfusion injury. Dr.Sadayappan provides expertise in Stefan’s experimental designs and approaches to test his proposed hypothesis, along with other committee members, including Drs. Seth Robia, Lothar Blatter and Kenneth Byron.

Ryan Himes (2010 - 2015)

Graduate Student, Loyola University Chicago, Health Sciences Division
PhD Supervisor : Seth Robia, PhD

Ryan’s PhD thesis work is aimed at understanding and assessing the ability of Phospholemman (PLM) mutants to increase cardiac contractility without causing arrhythmias. His thesis committee members are Drs. Allen M. Samarel, Graeme Carnegie, Renzhi Han and Sakthivel Sadayappan.

For queries and opportunities, Please Contact :

Sakthivel Sadayappan, Ph.D., MBA
Professor of Internal Medicine
Hanna Endowed Chair of Cardiology
Executive Director, Center for Cardiovascular Research
Associate Director of Basic Research, Division of Cardiovascular Health and Disease
University of Cincinnati College of Medicine
Cardiovascular Center, Rm 4935
MLC 0542
231 Albert Sabin Way
Cincinnati, OH 45267-0575, USA
Phone : +1 513-558-7498
Email :

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