Graduate Students

Mustafa Ozdemir, MS

Graduate Student (Aug 2022-Present)
Pathobiology & Molecular Medicine program

Mustafa received his undergraduate degree in Sport Sciences at Ankara University, Turkey. He then earned his master’s degree in Exercise Physiology under the supervision of Dr. Haydar Demirel at Hacettepe University, Turkey. He learned basic lab techniques while investigating the effects of whole-body vibration application on a rat model of casting-induced muscle wasting during his training in Dr. Demirel’s Lab. Five times during his undergrad and master's studies, he received funding from Erasmus+ Study Abroad and Internship Programs supported by the European Commission. After earning his master’s degree, he joined Dr. Scott Powers' lab at the University of Florida with a Fulbright grant to pursue a Ph.D. in Exercise Physiology. The broad research focus was to understand the signaling pathways responsible for skeletal muscle weakness. Specifically, the research focused on understanding the role of calpains in mechanical ventilation-induced diaphragm weakness. Additionally, he investigated the mechanisms of muscle atrophy for both respiratory and limb muscles during simulated ICU care. Following Dr. Powers' retirement from the University of Florida, he joined the Sadayappan Lab to complete a Ph.D. thesis in the Pathobiology & Molecular Medicine program at the University of Cincinnati. In Dr. Sadayappan Lab, his research focus is on understanding the physiological roles of skeletal muscle paralogs of myosin binding protein-C in health and disease.

Darshini Desai, MS

Graduate Student (Aug 2018 – Present)

Darshini Desai received her Bachelor’s in Pharmacy in Aug 2015 from Mumbai University in India and Master of Science in Pharmacology in May 2018 from Auburn University in Auburn, AL. She joined the PhD program at University of Cincinnati in August 2018 under the mentorship of Dr. Sadayappan. Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM) is a genetic disorder affecting many worldwide. Prevalence of people suffering from HCM in the United States itself is 600,000 and is on the rise. HCM is characterized by the thickening of the heart muscle which causes left ventricular hypertrophy and can lead to sudden cardiac death, especially in young adults. Mutations in the genes that encode for sarcomeric proteins are usually involved in causing cardiac disorders like HCM. One such mutation in MYBPC3, a cardiac isoform of myosin binding protein C encodes a sarcomeric protein (cMyBP-C) that is involved in maintaining sarcomeric stability and regulating cardiac contractility. Currently Darshini is working on determining the pathogenesis of cMyBP-C gene variants, prevalent in the South Asian population, progressing to HCM. Using human cardiac organoids, she is investigating the involvement of secondary risk factors such as pressure overload, diabetes, etc, that aggravate the disease phenotype. Her studies are supported by the American Heart Association predoctoral training fellowship (20PRE35120272). Her PhD thesis committee members include Drs. Litsa Kranias, Richard Becker, Jo El Schultz and Yi- Gang Wang.

Former Graduate Students

Mohit Kumar, MS, PhD

Graduate Student ( May 2016-Jun 2020 )

Mr. Mohit Kumar received his Master of Science in Molecular Biophysics and Biochemistry in August 2011 from Illinois Institute of Technology in Chicago, IL. After four years of research experience in academia, focused on cardiac physiology at Loyola University Chicago, Mohit joined the PhD program at University of Cincinnati in 2016 under the mentorship of Dr. Sadayappan in the Molecular, Cellular, and Biochemical Pharmacology program. His PhD studies were focused on determining the role of cMyBP-C phosphorylation in calcium handling, and cMyBP-C structure and function in the heart. He was funded by the American Heart Association predoctoral training fellowship to support his PhD thesis studies (17PRE33630192). His PhD thesis committee members included Drs. Litsa Kranias, John R. Lorenz, Douglas Millay and Terry L. Kirley. He has expertise in biophysical techniques measuring contractility at the sarcomere, muscle, and cardiac level. Currently, he is a postdoctoral fellow in the Sadayappan lab and is continuing his training in using various mouse models to define the link between impairment in sarcomere contractility and the role of abnormal calcium cycling in the sarcomere.

Thomas L. Lynch, IV, PhD

Graduate student (December 2012 – September 2016)

Dr. Lynch received his Bachelor of Science in Biology in May 2011 from Lewis University in Romeoville, Illinois where he conducted undergraduate research in microbiology. He then joined the Molecular Pharmacology and Therapeutics graduate program at Loyola University Chicago in August of 2011 and was under the mentorship of Dr. Sadayappan beginning in December 2012. His work in the lab focused on determining whether circulating cardiac myosin binding protein-C is immunogenic following myocardial infarction producing auto-antibodies that cause cardiac inflammation and heart failure. He has published several first authored papers (Proteomics Clin Appl. 2014, Oxid Med Cell Longev. 2015, J Mol Cell Cardiol. 2017, JACC Basic Transl Sci, 2017). His PhD thesis committee members included Drs. Pieter de Tombe, R. John Solaro, Adriano Marchese and Xun Ai. In support of his work, Dr. Lynch was awarded a pre-doctoral fellowship grant from the American Heart Association (15PRE22430028). After a brief postdoctoral training at University of Wisconsin in Madison, WI, and Loyola University Chicago, Maywood, IL, he has been working as a Senior Scientist I, Drug Metabolism, DMPK-BA, Abbvie, North Chicago, IL.

Brian Lin, PhD

Graduate student (December 2011 – June 2016)

Dr. Lin received his undergraduate degree in Biology/Zoology in May 2008. Upon graduation, he worked at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital with Dr. Charles Vorhees, focusing primarily on behavioral neuroscience research. He continued his work in behavioral neuroscience at Northwestern University as a Research Assistant to Dr. Aryeh Routtenberg from June 2009 to October 2010. His primary studies focused on post-translational modifications during learning and memory. Dr. Lin did his PhD studies at Loyola University Chicago. His thesis committee consisted of Drs. Pieter de Tombe, Elizabeth McNally, Xun Ai and Renzhi Han. He was under the mentorship of Dr. Sadayappan in the Department of Cell and Molecular Physiology from December 2011 until June 2016. His research work in the lab was entirely focused on characterizing the distribution, regulation and function of fast skeletal myosin binding protein-C in skeletal muscle and cardiac muscle in health and disease. Brian is currently doing his postdoctoral studies with Dr. David Kass at John’s Hopkins, Baltimore, MD.

David Barefield, PhD

Graduate student (September 2009 – June 2014)

Dr. Barefield received his undergraduate degree in Biology and Biochemistry in May 2009 from Augustana College in Rock Island, Illinois. He joined the Cell and Molecular Physiology graduate program at Loyola University Chicago in August of that year. Dave’s work in the lab focused on developing in vivo models of cardiovascular disease to determine how cardiac genetic defects worsen the development of heart disease. In support of his work, Dr. Barefield was awarded a pre-doctoral fellowship grant from the American Heart Association (11PRE7240022). He had Drs. Pieter de Tombe, Christine Seidman, Kyle Henderson and Kenneth Byron in his thesis committee. Dave’s work in the lab generated data for a variety of projects using mouse models of cardiovascular disease, which resulted in numerous publications. Following the completion of his PhD in June 2014 with Dr. Sadayappan, Dave joined Dr. Elizabeth McNally’s lab at University of Chicago, Chicago, IL for his postdoctoral studies. With the NIH K99/R00 funding support, he moved back to Loyola University Chicago and started his independent research group.

For queries and opportunities, Please Contact :

Sakthivel Sadayappan, Ph.D., MBA
Professor of Internal Medicine
Dr. James F. Heady Endowed Chair in Medicine
Vice Chair of Basic Research, Internal Medicine
Associate Director of Basic Research, Division of Cardiovascular Health and Disease
Director, Heart Research, Heart, Lung and Vascular Institute
University of Cincinnati College of Medicine
Cardiovascular Center, Rm 4935
MLC 0542
231 Albert Sabin Way
Cincinnati, OH 45267-0575, USA
Phone : +1 513-558-7498
Email :

For lab research activities, news, events
meetings, conferences, symposiums
and outdoor activities,
found us and like us
at Sadayappan Lab Facebook