Zhao Lab

With the advance of high-throughput genome sequencing and precision medicine, the Zhao lab is exploring the genetic basis of cardiovascular development and congenital heart disease using patient-derived induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs). We are thrilled to establish the first iPSC Genomics laboratory in the Center for Cardiovascular Research at Nationwide Children’s Hospital, and are currently transforming our understandings on the genetic mechanisms of congenital heart disease using patient-derived cardiomyocytes, endothelial cells, and smooth muscle cells. Collaborating with PIs in the Heart Center at Nationwide Children’s Hospital and The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center, we are positioned to advance our perception on congenital heart disease using both human iPSCs and mouse/zebrafish/pig models. In addition, we are using genome editing tools (CRISPR/Cas9) to correct/introduce genetic variants in the context of normal and diseased heart cells originally from the patients and study how a particular genetic variant could contribute to congenital heart defects. Previous works in the lab include the identification of cardiac-specific regulatory DNA elements using high-throughput ChIP-seq and RNA-seq in the human heart (Circulation Research 2017) and evaluation of the contribution of genetic components and reprogramming mechanisms (iPSC reprogramming versus somatic cell nuclear transfer) to the transcriptional and epigenomic signatures of terminally differentiated cells (PNAS, 2017).

Lab Staff

Nationwide Children's Researcher

Mingtao Zhao, DVM, PhD
Principal Investigator
Mingtao.Zhao@NationwideChildrens.org

Mingtao Zhao, DVM, PhD is a Principal Investigator in the Center for Cardiovascular Research at Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus Ohio. He is an Assistant Professor (tenure-track) in the Department of Pediatrics at The Ohio State University College of Medicine. Dr. Zhao completed his postdoc training with Dr. Joseph Wu at Stanford University School of Medicine, followed by an Instructor position at Stanford Cardiovascular Institute in 2018. In August 2019, he moved to Columbus Ohio to set up his independent laboratory in Abigail Wexner Research Institute at Nationwide Children’s Hospital. Dr. Zhao’s research laboratory aims to decipher the molecular mechanisms controlling heart development and discover novel treatment for congenital heart disease using patient-derived induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs).

Dr. Zhao’s research vision is to understand the molecular and cellular mechanisms of cardiovascular development and congenital heart disease using patient-derived induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs), combined with the cutting-edge technologies in functional genomics and genome editing (CRISPR/Cas9). In particular, Dr. Zhao is interested in how genetic variants in noncoding regions with open chromatin state could contribute to the clinical phenotypes of congenital heart disease by studying patient-derived iPSCs that retain all the genetic information of the patients in vitro. In addition, Dr. Zhao is exploring the novel regulatory roles of NOTCH signaling pathway in human cardiac and vascular lineage commitment under normal and diseased conditions.

Nationwide Children's Hospital Research Staff

Bailey Hall
Undergraduate Research Assistant

Bailey is an undergraduate student who is pursuing degrees in Biology and Biochemistry at The Ohio State University. He joined the Zhao Lab in February 2021.

Nationwide Children's Hospital Research Staff

Arline Joachim 
Research Assistant

Arline received her bachelor’s degree in Psychology from The Ohio State University. Arline worked as a research assistant as a high school and undergraduate student. She is now continuing to work in research as a post grad while applying to dental school. She joined the lab in January 2021.

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Akshar Patel
Graduate Student

Akshar received his bachelor's degree in Biology from The Ohio State University. He is currently working on his master's degree and plans to apply to medical school.

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Shiqiao Ye, PhD
Senior Research Associate

Dr. Ye earned his doctorate degree in 2009 in China. Before joining Nationwide Children's Hospital and the Zhao lab in 2019, he worked as a Research Associate in the Myeloma Center at University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences. Dr. Ye’s research focus is on the reprogramming of peripheral blood mononuclear cells and differentiation of iPSC into cardiomyocytes and endothelial cells, as well as uncovering the molecular mechanism of heart development and congenital heart disease such as Pulmonary atresia with an intact ventricular septum (PA/IVS).