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Additional Title:

Assistant Professor



800 W Baltimore ST, Baltimore, MD 21201

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Education and Training


Research in my laboratory is focused on understanding the mechanisms of cardiovascular development and promoting adult heart regeneration. Cardiac myogenesis is one of key developmental events to build up the functional pumping unit (myocardium). Not surprisingly, this is a joint effort from many cell types in the developing heart including cardiac endothelial cells and epicardial cells besides cardiomyocytes. This also requires well-coordinated signaling communications among these cells. Unlike others, we are taking innovative approaches to determine whether and how epigenetic factors such as histone modifications in nonmyocyte compartments instruct myogenesis. These novel epigenetic regulation mechanisms may be harnessed to promote adult heart regeneration.

Indeed, promotion of heart regeneration is still posing a hard challenge to us, since the adult heart is one of the least regenerative organs in mammals. We hypothesize that restoration of the cell cycle activity along with resetting cardiomyocyte differentiation state through epigenetic manipulation may enable adult cardiomyocytes to regain regenerative capacity. We are actively testing this hypothesis in vitro (primary cardiomyocyte culture) and in vivo (genetic mouse models) employing multiple sets of cutting-edge technologies such as CRSPR-Cas9, proteomics, ChIP Seq and single cell RNA Seq. This line of studies may open up new avenues for promoting adult heart regeneration.

Our lab is currently well funded by both NIH and AHA. If you are passionate in doing basic and/or translation research in the field of cardiovascular development and regeneration, feel free to contact me. Talent and self-motivated students, postdocs, and visiting scholars are always welcome!

Research/Clinical Keywords

Cardiology, cardiovascular development, heart regeneration, cardiomyocytes, trabeculation, compaction, congenital heart disease, cardiac morphogenesis, signaling pathways, epigenetics, stem cells, mouse, surgery, myocardial infarction and cell proliferation.

Highlighted Publications

Jang J, Song G, Pettit SM, Li Q, Song X, Cai CL, Kaushal S, Li D#. Epicardial histone deacetylase 3 promotes myocardial growth through a novel microRNA pathway. Circ Res. 2022 Jun 20:101161 CIRCRESAHA122320785. Doi: 10.1161/CIRCRESAHA.122.320785. Online ahead of print. PMID: 35722872. (#corresponding author)

Jang J, Engleka KA, Liu F, Li L, Song G, Epstein JA, Li D#. An Engineered Mouse to Identify Proliferating Cells and Their Derivatives. Front Cell Dev Biol. 2020 May 25;8:388. doi: 10.3389/fcell.2020.00388. (#corresponding author)

Lin W*, Li D*#, Cheng L, Li L, Liu F, Hand NJ, Epstein JA# and Rader DJ#. Zn transporter Slc39a8 is essential for cardiac ventricular compaction. J Clin Invest. 2018 Feb 1;128(2):826-833. doi: 10.1172/JCI96993. Epub 2018 Jan 16. [*co-first author, #co-corresponding author]

Ramjee V*, Li D*, Manderfield LJ, Liu F, Engleka KA, Aghajanian H, Rodell CB, Lu W, Ho V, Wang T, Li L, Singh A, Cibi DM, Burdick JA, Olson EN, Jain R, Singh MK, Epstein JA. Epicardial Yap/Taz Orchestrate an Immune Suppressive Response following MI. J Clin Invest. 2017 Mar 1;127(3):899-911. doi: 10.1172/JCI88759. (*co-first author)

Li D, Takeda N, Jain R, Manderfield LJ, Liu F, Li L, Anderson SA, Epstein JA. Hopx distinguishes hippocampal from lateral ventricle neural stem cells. Stem Cell Res. 2015 Nov;15(3):522-9. doi: 10.1016/j.scr.2015.09.015. Epub 2015 Oct 8. [cover image]

Jain R*, Li D*, Gupta M, Manderfield LJ, Ifkovits JL, Wang Q, Liu F, Liu Y, Poleshko A, Padmanabhan A, Raum JC, Li L, Morrisey EE, Lu MM, Won KJ, Epstein JA. Integration of Bmp and Wnt signaling by Hopx specifies commitment of cardiomyoblast. Science. 2015 Jun 26;348(6242):aaa6071. doi: 10.1126/science.aaa6071. [*co-first author, cover image, Faculty of 1000 selection]

Li D, Liu Y, Maruyama M, Zhu W, Chen H, Zhang W, Reuter S, Lin SF, Haneline LS, Field LJ, Chen PS, Shou W. Restrictive loss of plakoglobin in cardiomyocytes leads to arrhythmogenic cardiomyopathy. Hum Mol Genet. 2011 Dec 1;20(23):4582-96. Epub 2011 Aug 31.

Li D, Hallett MA, Zhu W, Rubart-von der Lohe M, Liu Y, Yang Z, Chen H, Haneline LS, chan RJ, Schwartz RJ, Field LJ, Atkinson SJ, Shou W. Dishevelled associated activator of morphogenesis 1 (DAAM1) is required for heart morphogenesis. Development. 2011 Jan;138(2):303-15.

Awards and Affiliations

  • Member, American Heart Association, 2015 – present
  • AHA-Transformative Project Award (20TPA35490132), 2021-2023

Grants and Contracts

  • NIH, NHLBI, R01 (HL153406), 2020-2025

Professional Activity

2020 – present                       Editorial Board Member, Frontiers in Cell and Developmental Biology

2020 – present                       Editorial Board Member, Frontiers in Physiology

2020 – present                       Editorial Board Member, Nature: Communications Biology

2020 – present                       Editorial Board Member, Journal of Biological Chemistry    

2020 – present                       Ad hoc reviewer, NIH CDD study section

2022 - 2026                           Standing member, NIH BBHV study section

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