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Research Expertise & Mentors

One of the greatest strengths of the UC San Diego site is the involvement of our highly successful research faculty who will serve as mentors for the FOCUS program.  UC San Diego is one of the nation's top research institutions , and our research faculty mentors have a variety of expertise in cardiovascular research. 


Research Expertise

The list below shows sample research expertise available at UC San Diego. This is not a comprehensive list, and we encourage you to explore the various UC San Diego departments and their faculty research expertise using the links found at the end of this web page.

  • vascular cell biology
  • caveolae and caveolins
  • cell matrix and cell-cell adhesion
  • signaling in heart failure
  • mechanisms of cardiac disease and development
  • stem cells
  • heart development and regeneration
  • transcription factors
  • mitochondria and heart failure
  • structure of cardiac muscle
  • electrical and mechanical function of the heart
  • mechanobiology and computational modeling of the heart
  • cell survival and growth
  • ischemia and reperfusion
  • cardiac aging
  • genetic-basis of cardiac disease
  • hemodynamics and inflammation in vascular disease
  • cardioprotection
  • etiologies and treatment of congenital heart diseases

Potential Research Mentors

Applicants to the program are encouraged to explore the various UC San Diego departments and their faculty research expertise using the links found at the end of this web page. ​


A sample of potential research mentors from a campus-wide pool for the UC San Diego FOCUS program are found in the table and links below. This is not an exhaustive list of available mentors.


Faculty Name ​Research Interest
Hemal Patel, PhD 

​The role of caveolae and caveolins

David Roth, MD, PhD 

​Cell survival and growth in ischemia and reperfusion injury, heart failure, and aging


Faculty Name ​Research Interest
Adam Engler, PhD 

​Stem cells in cardiovascular disease

Andrew McCulloch, PhD 

​Structure of cardiac muscle; electrical and mechanical function of the heart


Faculty Name ​Research Interest
Deborah Yelon, PhD  ​Molecular mechanisms of cardiac development to provide insight to etiologies and treatment of congenital heart diseases.

Cellular and Molecular Medicine

Faculty Name ​Research Interest
Christopher Glass, MD, PhD 

​Transcription factors and co-regulators in function and differentiation of macrophages

Peter Novick, PhD 

​Molecular mechanism of membrane traffic, and how it relates to cell polarity; structure and inheritance of the endoplasmic reticulum

Family Medicine and Public Health

Faculty Name ​Research Interest
​Matthew Allison, MD  ​Prevention cardiovascular disease, related to atherosclerosis, metabolism and body composition, kidney disease, women's health and racial/ethnic disparities

Herbert Wertheim School of Public Health

​Faculty Name ​Research Interest
Cheryl Anderson, PhD  ​Prevention of cardiovascular disease, related to diet, lifestyle and behavioral factors


Faculty Name ​Research Interest
Ju Chen, PhD 

Molecular basis of cardiac disease

Neil Chi, MD, PhD 

​Molecular mechanisms of cardiovascular diseases and the development.

Joachim Ix, MD, MAS 

​Kidney tubule health and its impact on cardiovascular and kidney disease outcomes

Kevin King, MD, PhD 

​Heart attack, metabolic disease, asthma, autoimmunity, and cancer

Ayako Makino, PhD 

​Coronary endothelial dysfunction in diabetes and pulmonary hypertension

Atul Malhotra, MD 

​Sleep medicine, obstructive sleep apnea

Jeffrey Omens, PhD 

​Cardiac mechanics, mechanobiology and computational modeling of heart disease

​Jesus Rivera-Nieves, MD 

​Inflammation and inflammatory signaling

Robert Ross, MD 

​Cell-matrix and cell-cell adhesion in the adult and developing myocardium

Sanford Shattil, MD 

​Signaling through integrin adhesion receptors in development, vascular biology and cancer

Farah Sheikh, PhD 

​Biomechanical stress responses in cardiac muscle and genetic-based cardiac disease

John Shyy, PhD 

​Hemodynamics and Inflammation in vascular disease

Volker Vallon, MD 

​Diabetic nephropathy, hypertension, serum and glucocorticoid regulated kinase 1, glucose transport, organic anion transport, purine receptors

Francisco Villarreal, MD, PhD 


Jason Yuan, MD, PhD  ​Pulmonary arterial hypertension


​Faculty Name ​Research Interest
Adriana Tremoulet, MD  ​Inflammation, pediatric pharmacology, Kawasaki disease and coronary artery disease, clinical trials


Faculty Name ​Research Interest
Joan Heller Brown, PhD 

​G Protein signaling in heart failure inflammation and cancer

Richard Daneman, PhD 

Blood-brain barrier, cerebrovascular disease, multiple sclerosis, neurodegenerative disease, stroke

​Silvio Gutkind, PhD 

​Cell signaling, protein engineering, structure

JoAnn Trejo, PhD 

​Signaling vascular biology

Skaggs School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences (SSPPS)

Faculty Name ​Research Interest
​Sylvia Evans, PhD 

Genetic pathways underlying heart development; congenital and adult heart disease

Asa Gustafsson, PhD  ​Mitochondria and heart failure

Explore Faculty Research

For a comprehensive list of faculty and specific research, please visit the following departments directly: