The research laboratory of Lei Yang, PhD, focuses on human-specific heart development, disease and regeneration. The main approaches utilized in the Yang Lab are human embryonic stem (ES) cells, human induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells, tissue engineering and mouse genetic models.
The heart is a complicated organ with three-dimensional organization of cellular components and an extracellular matrix (ECM) essential for pumping blood. A human heart is composed of various kinds of cells, including the major cell types of cardiomyocytes (CMs), smooth muscle cells (SMCs), endothelial cells (ECs) and cardiac fibroblasts (CFs). Throughout the past few decades, studies of heart development have been mainly focused on conserved gene regulatory mechanisms, which control various aspects of cardiogenesis across multiple species from drosophila to mice.