Graduate Students

Brittany Duncan, MS

Graduate Student (Nov 2018 – Present)

Brittany Duncan received her Master of Science in Medical Sciences in May 2015 from Hampton University in Hampton, Virginia. After three years of experience in research where she looked at "Energy balance following diets of varying fat content: metabolic dysregulation in a rodent model of spinal cord contusion,” Brittany joined the PhD program at the University of Cincinnati in 2018. She is currently a second year PhD student in the Molecular, Cellular and Biochemical Pharmacology program. After a rotation in the Sadayappan lab, she decided to join the lab for her PhD thesis studies. Heart failure is the number one killer worldwide with HFpEF (heart failure symptoms with normal systolic but depressed diastolic function) comprising ~50% of heart failure cases. Type 2 diabetes (T2D) is a major risk factor for abnormal diastolic function, an early predictor of HFpEF. The presence of both HFpEF and T2D is associated with strikingly increased morbidity and mortality. However, currently, no effective pathophysiology-specific treatment is available for patients with HFpEF beside general supportive care. Her research program focuses on determining the pathophysiological mechanism of T2D-mediated HFpEF at the molecular, cellular and functional levels; determining aspects that differ between in right and left ventricles during the development of HFpEF.

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 she is working on determining the pathogenesis of cMyBP-C gene variants, prevalent in South Asian population progressing to HCM using human cardiac organoids, and involvement of secondary risk factors such as pressure overload, diabetes, etc, to aggravate the disease phenotype.

Mohit Kumar, MS

Graduate Student ( May 2016-Present )

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, Mohit joined the PhD program at University of Cincinnati in 2016 under the mentorship of Dr. Sadayappan. Currently his studies will determine the role of cMyBP-C phosphorylation in calcium handling, and cMyBP-C structure and function in the heart. He has been funded by the American Heart Association predoctoral training fellowship to support his PhD thesis studies starting from 01 July 2017 (17PRE33630192). He has expertise in biophysical techniques measuring contractilities at the sarcomere, muscle and cardiac level. He has published already over 5 publications including a first authored paper in Journal of Biological Chemistry (2015).

Former Graduate Students

Thomas L. Lynch, IV, PhD

Graduate student (December 2012 – September 2016)

Mr. 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 has been under the mentorship of Dr. Sadayappan since 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 include Drs. Pieter de Tombe, R. John Solaro, Adriano Marchese and Xun Ai. In support of his work, Mr. 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, he has been now with Dr. Walter Keith Jones at Loyola University Chicago, Maywood, IL continuing his postdoctoral research studies.

Brian Lin, PhD

Graduate student (December 2011 – June 2016)

Mr. 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. Mr. Lin did his PhD studies at Loyola University Chicago. His thesis committee consists 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)

Mr. 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, Mr. 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 Dr. Sadayappan, he has published 12 papers including four first authored publications.

For queries and opportunities, Please Contact :

Sakthivel Sadayappan, PhD, MBA
Professor of Internal Medicine
Associate Chairman for Basic Research
Department of Internal Medicine
Director of Heart Branch of the Heart, Lung and Vascular Institute
Division of Cardiovascular Health and Disease
University of Cincinnati, College of Medicine
Cardiovascular Center, Rm 4935
231 Albert Sabin Way
Cincinnati, OH 45267-0542, USA
Phone : +1 513-558-7498
Email :

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