Postdoctoral Trainees

Current Trainees :

Pooneh Rafsanjani Nabavizade, MD

Clinical Research Fellow (Jul 2019 – Jun 2022)

Pooneh Nabavizade is a second-year resident in the physician-scientist pathway for internal medicine/cardiology at the University of Cincinnati. She did her post-doctoral fellowship at the University of California, San Francisco in Dr. Matt Springer’s lab, where she worked on the effect of tobacco and marijuana aerosols on the endothelial function in rats.  She joined Dr. Sadayappan’s lab in July 2019 and is planning to study heart disease in the South Asian population. Her goal is to pursue a career as a physician-scientist in the field of academic cardiology. South Asians are at increased risk of atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease (ASCVD). Dyslipidemia is an important risk factor contributing to ASCVD score and is of higher prevalence in this population. Her current research project is aimed to determine the effect of “dietary intervention” on lipid profile in South Asian couples living in the United States.

Rohit Singh, PhD

Postdoctoral Fellow (Feb 2018 - Present)

Dr. Singh is a native of India where he received his Bachelors (2009) and Masters of Science (2011) degrees in the field of Biotechnology from the University of Mumbai. He then received his PhD in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at the University of North Texas, Denton, Texas, under the guidance of Dr. Douglas D. Root. His dissertation study was focused on alteration in the stability of myosin sub-fragment 2 by binding of cardiac myosin binding protein-C. During his graduate studies, he received several awards and scholarships, including, for example, the Beth Baird Scholarship, Academic Achievement Scholarship, and Outstanding Teaching Assistant. To advance his skills and expertise in cardiac physiology, he joined the Sadayappan lab as a postdoctoral fellow in February 2018. His current studies will investigate the structure and function of cardiac myosin binding protein-C to regulate cardiac myosin and contractility in health and disease.

Mohammed Arif, PhD

Postdoctoral fellow (August 2017-present)

Dr. Arif received his Master degree (2006) from Jamia Hamdard University and his PhD (2014) from Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) in Biochemistry from New Delhi, India. He worked two years as a postdoctoral fellow with Dr. Rafeeq Habeebahmed at the University of Cincinnati. In August 2017 he began working in the Sadayappan lab under the mentorship of Richard Becker, MD, and co-mentorship of Sakthivel Sadayappan, PhD, MBA, and is focusing on the epigenetic regulations in pediatric primary hypertension. The research project entitled “Study of Hypertension in Pediatrics -Adult Hypertension Onset in Youth (SHIP AHOY)” is funded by the American Heart Association under Strategically Focused Research Network mechanism to Dr. Becker at University of Cincinnati and Dr. Elaine Urbina at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center. Arif loves to spend time with his family and enjoys movies and video games in his spare time.

Taejong Song, PhD

Postdoctoral fellow (2016-present)

Taejeong (T.J) Song is originally from South Korea and received both his Master's (2009) and his Ph.D (2015) degrees in the Department of Kinesiology and Health Education at the University of Texas at Austin. Since May 2016, he has been working in Dr. Sadayppan's lab for his postdoctoral training and is focusing on the physiological roles of skeletal muscle isoforms of MyBP-C. He loves to play tennis in his spare time.

James McNamara, PhD

Postdoctoral fellow (June 2016-Present)

James received his Bachelor of Science in Physiology from the University of Sydney, Australia. He joined Dr. Sadayppan's lab in June 2016 to determine the underlying differences between the three different isoforms of myosin binding protein-C. He is also investigating the potential for cardioprotection by MyBP-C during ischemia reperfusion injury. In his free time, he loves watching cricket, cooking and home brewing.

Former Trainees :

Shiv Kumar Viswanathan, PhD

Postdoctoral fellow (June 2016 - June 2019)

Dr. Viswanathan received his Ph.D. in Molecular and Developmental Biology and Cardiology from the University of Cincinnati in 2008 and worked as a Project Leader in the Translational Core Labs at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital for 6 years where he established the safety of two gene therapy vector products, which are now in Phase-I Clinical trials. In May 2016 he joined Dr. Sadayappan's lab as a postdoc and is working on developing models of hypertrophic cardiomyopathy to translate clinical research from bench to bedside.

Jennifer Schwanekamp, PhD

Postdoctoral Fellow (July 2017 - July 2018)

Jennifer received both her Master's (2012) and PhD (2017) from the Department of Molecular Genetics, Microbiology, and Biochemistry, University of Cincinnati in the laboratory of Dr. Jeffery D. Molkentin at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital. Her PhD work expanded our knowledge of periostin to an atherosclerotic disease model. She published ten articles including two first author publications in the top impact journals, and received several awards such as Albert J. Ryan Fellowship and winner of the Heart Institute Research Retreat Graduate Student Oral Presentation, 2016. She joined the Sadayappan lab in July of 2017 under the NIH T32 training mechanism. As a postdoctoral trainee, she is working on understanding the molecular mechanism underlying hypertrophic cardiomyopathy resulting from mutations in MYBPC3. Her long-term interest is to be a faculty member leading cardiovascular research in a reputed academic institution.

Suresh Govindan, PhD

Postdoctoral fellow (February 2011-February 2016)

Dr. Govindan received his PhD in Microbiology in 2001 at Madurai Kamaraj University, India, and trained in cell and molecular biology in Taiwan. His work in Dr. Sadayappan’s lab was focused on the structural and regulatory functions of Cardiac Myosin Binding Protein-C to delineate the role(s) of cMyBP-C function in the heart. In particular, he focused on identifying upstream targets of cMyBP-C in order to discover novel kinases and proteases involved in the post-translational modification of cMyBP-C and its degradation, which will further define a role for cMyBP-C stability as a supportive therapy during post-ischemia- reperfusion (IR) injury. He was supported by the AHA post-doctoral training grant from Jan 01, 2013 (13POST14720024) until Dec 31, 2015. Currently, he is working as a research associate at Knight Cardiovascular Institute Oregon Health and Science University, Portland, OR.

Diederik D. W. Kuster, PhD

Postdoctoral fellow (January 2012 - April 2014)

Dr. Kuster was awarded his doctoral degree in cardiovascular biology from Erasmus University Medical Center, Rotterdam, the Netherlands. He studied the molecular mechanisms underlying cardiac hypertrophy, focusing on hypertrophy after myocardial infarction (pathological) and after regular exercise training (physiological) in swine. He then worked with Dr. Jolanda van der Velden as a postdoctoral fellow at the VU University Medical Center, Amsterdam, the Netherlands. Expanding his research, he focused on cMyBP-C phosphorylation in cardiac diseases (Kuster DW et al., 2012 J Muscle Res Cell Motil). To gain more insight into the functional role(s) of cMyBP-C, Dr. Kuster moved to the Sadayappan Lab at Loyola University Chicago, on January 3, 2012. In the first year, he studied the systematic release of cMyBP-C into the blood post-myocardial infarction. To accomplish this, he established a multiplex ELISA assay (Kuster DW et al., 2013; J Vis Exp) and finally confirmed that cMyBP-C is an early biomarker of myocardial infarction (Kuster DWD et al., 2014; Am J Physiol Heart Circ Physiol). During this time, he also completed his previous work, isolating a novel GSKβ3 phosphorylation site in human cMyBP-C and determining its role in sarcomere function (Kuster DW et al. 2013, Circ Res). Over the last year, he continued studies to understand the disease mechanism of hypertrophic cardiomyopathy using a transgenic mouse model expressing a specific 25bp mutation that is inherited in 80 million people worldwide (Kuster DW and Sadayappan S, 2014; Pflugers Arch). To support his research studies, he received an American Heart Association postdoctoral fellowship.

On March 01, 2014, he returned to the Netherlands where he took a faculty position to establish his research laboratory at the VU University Medical Center, Amsterdam.

Xiang Ji, PhD,

Postdoctoral fellow (January 2011 - December 2011)
Research Assistant (January 2012 - June 2013)

Dr. Ji received his PhD in Cell Biology from Bowling Green State University (BGSU), Bowling Green, Ohio, in May 2001. He then attended the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill for his first postdoctoral training to determine the mechanism of precondition-induced cardioprotection from ischemia-reperfusion injury. In November 2002, he moved to Loyola University Chicago to work with, Dr. Steve L. Lipsius on the signaling mechanisms underlying -1- adrenergic receptor-mediated intracellular nitric oxide release in cardiomyocytes. He is credited with a number of publications with Dr. Lipsius, as a demonstration of his expertise in the area of calcium signaling and contractility. He has experience using adult cardiomyocytes from mouse, rat, rabbit and cat to study the calcium transients with a line-scan confocal microscope. He aimed to determine the specific effects of cMyBP-C degradation and its fragments on myosin kinetics, such as interaction with thick and thin filament proteins, calcium transients and contractility in vitro.

Saminathan Muthusamy, PhD

Postdoctoral fellow (January 2010 - April 2011)

In support of his graduate studies, Dr. Muthusamy was awarded the prestigious Council of Scientific & Industrial Research Fellowship awarded by the Government of India based on the CSIR National Eligibility Test. During the course of his graduate studies, he gained in- depth knowledge in protein purification and enzyme technology. In particular, he was involved in developing a new protocol to solve the aggregation of lipolytic enzymes seen in native PAGE. In the Sadayappan lab, his work was focused on the molecular mechanisms involved in cardiac myosin binding protein-C (cMyBP-C) phosphorylation-mediated cardioprotection during ischemia-reperfusion injury. At the Second Annual Myofiliament Meeting, which was held in Madison, WI, in May 2010. Dr. Muthusamy won an award for outstanding poster presentation on cMyBP-C proteolysis that contributes to reduced left ventricular function and plays a key role in the pathogenesis of heart failure. Currently, he is working as a Researcher V level at University of Alabama at Birmingham, Birmingham, AL.

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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