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Li Qian, PhD, associate professor of pathology and laboratory medicine, associate director of UNC’s McAllister Heart Institute, has been awarded a $1.8-million research grant from the NIH starting January 1st, 2019 to understand the molecular mechanisms underlying cell fate determination of human cardiomyocytes.

Li Qian, PhD, associate professor of pathology, associate director of McAllister Heart Institute, has received a $1.8-million R01 grant from the NIH/NHLBI to support Qian lab’s continued efforts in heart research. Dr. Qian’s years of work in understanding the genetic and epigenetic control of cardiomyocyte specification and differentiation has led to the discovery of several innovative approaches for heart repair, including the cardiac reprogramming approach that has opened a new field of study and represents a promising alternative approach to cardiac regeneration. Her lab’s work has also significantly advanced the basic understanding of cell plasticity, cell identity and cell fate determination.

With this new research funding, her team will move onto studying human cardiac cells to understand the molecular pathways governing the faithful cell differentiation and transdifferentiation among various cell types in the human heart. In this effort, Qian lab will combine the utilization of single cell platforms, various omics approaches, and cutting-edge molecular assays to decipher the function of key regulators that have the potential to be clinically applied on a significant population in the US who suffers from heart disease.