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

Latest News

February 2024

New publication out in Nature from the Engreitz Lab and collaborators at the Broad Institute/Brigham and Women’s Hospital. This study developed a Variant-to-Gene-to-Program (V2G2P) to map how genetic variants affect gene expression and how genes impact biological function, and used this approach to uncover mechanisms underlying coronary artery disease risk. Read more in the Broad/BWH press release here

Dr. Casey Gifford was selected as a member of Stanford MCHRI's Inaugural Team Science and Translational Medicine Faculty Development Cohort. She will be leading a project focused on “Identifying gene regulatory networks involved in congenital heart disease amenable to therapeutic intervention”.

January 2024 

Two BASE postdocs were awarded the American Heart Association Postdoctoral Fellowship! Congratulations to Dr. Megha Agarwal, postdoc in the Gifford Lab, who was selected for her work on “Understanding left ventricular non-compaction through myocardial-endocardial crosstalk using human cardiac organoid”, and to Dr. Chongyang Zhang, postdoc in the Rabinovitch Lab, studying the “Mechanism underlying pulmonary arterial hypertension induced by reduced SOX17 in congenital heart disease”.

December 2023

Warm welcome to the BASE Program’s newest faculty recruit: Dr. Xiaojie Qiu, who also joined the Departments of Genetics and Computer Science. His laboratory will leverage his unique background in single-cell genomics, mathematical modeling, and machine learning to bridge the gap between “big data” from single-cell/spatial genomics and quantitative/predictive modeling in order to address fundamental questions in mammalian cell fate transitions, especially those of heart evolution, development, and disease. Check out more on his lab website here.

BASE is honoring Betty Irene Moore, who passed away on December 12, 2023. Her transformative donation to the Lucile Packard Foundation in 2017 established the Betty Irene Moore Children’s Heart Center and enabled the launch of our Basic Science and Engineering (BASE) Program to find a cure for children's heart disease through discovery and innovation. This generous donation led to the recruitment and support of our four world-class scientists currently building an interdisciplinary program in bioengineering, stem cell biology, genetics and computer science. Read more about her legacy here.

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