Jun 24, 2019

Michal Juda (MBIDP student) received Muscle Cell Biology, Pathophysiology, and Therapeutics Training Grant!  Congratulations

Jun 13, 2019

Dylan Valencia (BMSB student) was awarded Cellular and Molecular BiologyTraining Grant!   Congratulations.

May 22, 2019

Philip was awarded a Dean’s Prize at Research Poster Day 2019 on his human ES experiment. Congratulations!

Jan 22, 2019

The macrophage paper by Ayako and Vincent is now in press in Dev Cell. Embryonic hematopoiesis occurs in multiple tissues in multiple waves during development. The heart tube is one such organ that generates hematopoietic cells during early embryogenesis. However, its contribution to the circulating blood is minor.  If so, why should the heart be hemogenic and why should blood cells be generated in a spatiotemporally redundant pattern?  Are they all just backup systems for the yolk sac-derived hematopoietic progenitors? This is a simple but big question. In this work, Ayako and Vincent found the answer in ‘macrophages’. In the heart,  the endocardial cells contribute to a subset of macrophages. These endocardially-derived macrophages are enriched in the valve primordia (endocardial cushion) and play a critical role in the remodeling of valves. In other words, the heart generates customized tools to sculpt itself. Maybe this is what the local transient hematopoiesis is for – the local transient hematopoiesis is not really about the systemic blood but about the local tissue formation. This is likely a fundamental function of macrophages conserved among species, because macrophage(-like cell)s are the oldest types of blood cells that appear during evolution. This study also raises an interesting possibility that aberrant macrophage function may underlie some cases of congenital heart disease. See media coverages (UCLA News, Medical News, ScienceDaily, ScienMag, EurekAlert!, MedicalXpress, ParallelState, NJUS, Laboratory Equipment). Congratulations!

Oct 24, 2018

Viviana Fajardo’s heart regeneration study was awarded poster award at UCLA Cardiovascular Symposium!

Sep 9, 2018

Kai and Haruko’s paper is accepted for publication in Epigenetics. This is a significant contribution to the field and an important set of information that serves as a basis for many future projects. Congratulations!

Aug 3, 2018

Viviana Fajardo is awarded CDI Junior Faculty Award for her ongoing work on the glucose metabolism and heart regeneration!

May 18, 2018

Ayako awarded Developmental Dynamics Sponsored Speaker Award at Weinstein Cardiovascular Conference! She found a novel origin of macrophages in the heart and their essential role in the formation of heart valves. Her work demonstrates a novel mechanism of congenital valve anomaly and provides an answer to a long-unanswered biological question – why fetal blood cells are generated in multiple places in the embryo.

Dec 12, 2017

Haruko’s paper is published in eLife. High glucose in pregnant mothers causes congenital heart disease in babies. Haruko discovered how blood glucose impacts the heart formation.  More broadly, her findings suggest that the metabolic switch of the heart is not just a consequence but also a driver of heart formation. This will change how we view the heart formation. Her discovery is featured in eLife, UCLA News, and many other media worldwide (see ScienceDaily,, Scienmag,, Science Codex, the Medical News, Cardiovascular Business,, Laboratory Equipment, Technology Networks, Health News Digest, etc.).