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

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. 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. ​

If you have any questions, please email
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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

Explore Faculty Research

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

Also, please visit the IRACDA website for additional mentor choices.

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