Texas Heart Institute

Doris Taylor

Doris A. Taylor, Ph.D., Hon. D.Sc., FACC, FAHA

Director, CCOB; Director, THI Regenerative Medicine Research; Adjunct Professor, Deptartment of Veterinary Physiology & Pharmacology, Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences; Adjunct Professor, Rice University

Dr. Taylor is a pioneer in cell therapy and organ engineering. She is committed to moving cell, gene, and tissue engineering-based therapies safely and effectively from bench to bedside, while at the same time preparing students and fellows to compete at an international level in the fields of cardiac and vascular repair and regeneration. Before joining THI, Dr. Taylor directed the Center for Cardiovascular Repair at the University of Minnesota and held academic appointments as the Medtronic Bakken Chair of Integrative Biology and Physiology and Professor of Medicine. She served on the faculty of Duke University from 1991 to 2007, on the faculty of the University of Minnesota from 2003 to 2012 before being recruited to THI in 2012.

Richard Dixon

Richard A. F. Dixon, Ph.D.

Director, THI Molecular Cardiology Research Laboratory; Chair, CCOB External Commercialization Advisory Group

Before coming to THI, Dr. Dixon served as founder, director, and CSO of Encysive Pharmaceuticals. Prior to that, he held various management positions, including head of the molecular biology department at Merck and Co. Dr. Dixon’s basic research efforts focus on the molecular biology and pharmacology of intracellular signaling and cell trafficking. His lab was the first group to clone and characterize a G-protein coupled receptor, the beta2 adrenergic receptor, and continues to focus on developing drugs to modulate various signaling pathways. He has recently joined with several other investigators who are studying stem cell biology and the direct clinical applications of stem cells.

Emerson Perin

Emerson C. Perin, MD, Ph.D.

Medical Director, THI Leadership & THI Stem Cell Center; Director, THI Center for Clinical Research; Interventional Cardiologist, St. Luke’s Medical Center Hospital

Dr. Perin has provided innovative cardiovascular care for 20 years, focusing on minimally invasive interventional approaches to therapy. For more than 10 years, his major research interest has been the study of adult stem cells for the treatment of acute myocardial infarction, chronic heart failure, and peripheral vascular disease. Dr. Perin was the first investigator in the U.S. to receive approval from the FDA to inject stem cells directly into the hearts of patients suffering from heart failure. He currently is conducting clinical trials using various stem cell types to treat cardiovascular disease.

Peter Vanderslice

Peter Vanderslice, Ph.D.

Director, THI MCRL Biology, Molecular Cardiology Research

Dr. Vanderslice has spent over 20 years leading teams focused on the development of small molecule compounds that bind and modulate the function of integrins and chemokine receptors. The majority of his professional career has been in the pharmaceutical industry, where he gained familiarity with each stage of the pipeline from discovery to progression into clinical trials. Dr. Vanderslice has led teams working on several pre-clinical programs involving efforts in drug screening, lead compound characterization, and the development of preclinical animal models.

Darren Woodside

Darren Woodside, Ph.D.

Associate Director, THI Molecular Cardiology Research

Prior to coming to THI, Dr. Woodside served as associate director of drug discovery, biological sciences at Encysive Pharmaceuticals. His research interests center around the elucidation of the molecular mechanisms of integrin cell adhesion and molecule signal transduction. He is an author of numerous peer reviewed publications and reviews, has been a PI on a number of federally funded Small Business Innovative Research and investigator-initiated grants, served on the editorial review boards of Elsevier’s Integrated Medical Text Series, and currently serves on review panels of several grant funding agencies.

Luiz Sampaio

Luiz Sampaio, M.D., MS.

Associate Medical Director, THI Regenerative Medicine Research; Co-Director, Cullen Cardiovascular Research Laboratories, THI Cardiovascular Surgery Research

Dr. Sampaio is a cardiothoracic surgeon who serves as associate medical director for the Regenerative Medicine Research Department at the Texas Heart Institute in Houston. Among other responsibilities, he performs animal surgeries and oversees large-organ decellularization and recellularization processes for the RMR. Born in Salvador, Bahia, Brazil, Dr. Sampaio graduated from the Federal University of Bahia Medical School and completed an internship in internal medicine at the Medical College of Pennsylvania. He completed general surgery and cardiovascular surgery residencies in Brazil, then served with Dr. Denton Cooley as a visiting surgeon at THI, 1996-1998, before returning to Brazil to establish a private practice in cardiovascular surgery. Before returning to THI in 2011, Dr. Sampaio also served as Assistant Professor of Histology (tenure track) and Guest Professor of Cardiovascular Surgery at The Federal University of Bahia Medical School.

Texas A&M University

Ken Muneoka

Ken Muneoka, Ph.D.

Professor, Department of Veterinary Physiology & Pharmacology, Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences; Chair, CCOB Internal Scientific Advisory Board

Dr. Muneoka was recruited through a Texas A&M Chancellor’s Research Initiative Funding Request as a senior hire in regenerative medicine. Dr. Muneoka’s long-term goal is to develop therapies to induce regenerative responses in human and animal tissues and organs. His lab’s general approach is to understand cellular and molecular events critical for endogenous regeneration, and to use this understanding to devise therapies that can be tested and refined on non-regenerating amputation models.

Fred Clubb

Fred J. Clubb Jr., DVM, Ph.D., DACLAM

Clinical Professor, Department of Veterinary Pathobiology and Associate Director & Pathologist, Cardiovascular Pathology Research Laboratory, Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences

Dr. Clubb’s research interests and experience are in translational pathology research, bringing implantable devices from preclinical animal studies to clinical studies in humans as part of the FDA’s Good Laboratory Practices (GLP-animal studies) and Good Clinical Practices (GCP-human studies). Over the last 25 years, Dr. Clubb has done GLP pathology evaluations for over 70 different types of implantable cardiovascular devices and contributed to the GCP submission of ten medical devices to FDA panel review (including two ventricular assist devices as principle pathologist).

Roland Kaunas

Roland R. Kaunas, Ph.D.

Associate Professor, Department of Biomedical Engineering, Texas A&M College of Engineering

Dr. Kaunas’s laboratory focuses on determining how stresses and strains are generated in cells in response to mechanical stimuli such as tensile stretch and fluid shear stress, and how these mechanical signals are transduced into intracellular signals leading to changes in cell behavior. Past and current projects include studies on the role of cytoskeletal organization on mecahnotransduction, the effects of flow on angiogenesis and lymphatic function, and the development of mechanosensitive engineered tissues.

Joe Kornegay

Joe Kornegay, DVM, Ph.D.

Professor, Departents of Veterinary Integrative Biosciences and Veterinary Pathobiology, Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences; Interdiciplinary Faculty Member, Texas A&M Institute for Neuroscience

Dr. Kornegay is a diplomate and past president of the neurology specialty of the American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine (ACVIM). Throughout his career as an academic clinician, he had responsibilities in both medical neurology and neurosurgery and also consulted in neuropathology. For the past 30-plus years, Dr. Kornegay has studied a spontaneous canine disease termed golden retriever muscular dystrophy (GRMD), which serves as an animal model for Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD) of humans. Both conditions are X-linked occurring due to mutations in the DMD gene. His research has defined key clinical and pathologic features of GRMD to both better understand disease pathogenesis and to also utilize these parameters in assessing treatment efficacy. In recent years, Dr. Kornegay’s laboratory and collaborators have studied various treatments (cell, molecular and pharmacologic approaches) in affected dogs. Results of these preclinical studies should guide use of similar treatment strategies in DMD patients.

Brian Saunders

W. Brian Saunders, DVM, Ph.D.

Associate Professor, Department of Small Animal Clinical Sciences and Director, Gait Analysis Laboratory and Canine Comparitive Orthopedics & Cellular Therapeutics Laboratory, Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences

Dr. Saunders' clinical interests include total joint replacement, arthroscopy, minimally invasive fracture repair, and correction of angular limb deformities. His research interests include cell-matrix interactions, matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs), and canine and human adult mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs).

John Stallone

John N. Stallone, Ph.D.

Professor, Department of Veterinary Physiology & Pharmacology, Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences

Dr. Stallone’s scholarly interests include vascular physiology and pharmacology, especially sex differences in vascular function, blood pressure and hypertension. He is also interested in the roles of the gonadal steroids (androgens and estrogens) in the regulation of vascular function, and endothelium-vascular smooth muscle interactions.

Ashlee Watts

Ashlee Watts, DVM, Ph.D.

Associate Professor, Department of Large Animal Clinical Sciences and Director, Comparative Orthopedics & Regenerative Medicine Laboratory, Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences

Dr. Watts works with board certified faculty members on the equine orthopedics, equine lameness, and diagnostic imaging services at Texas A&M and collaborates with basic scientists and veterinarians throughout campus and at other academic institutions. Her research interests include comparative orthopedics; cartilage and tendon repair; stem cell biology; stem cell therapy; gene therapy; osteoarthritis prevention; and regenerative medicine.

Beiyan Zhou

Beiyan Zhou, Ph.D.

Associate Professor, Department of Veterinary Physiology & Pharmacology, Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences

Dr. Zhou’s lab attempts to understand the systemic network governed by epigenetic factors in stem cells and to identify the mechanisms that identify the unique characteristics of a stem cell (cell identity), and determine if the stem cell maintains as a stem cell or goes to a specific lineage (cell fate determination). Several major directions of her research projects include: regulation of microRNAs in hematopoietic stem cell function; microRNA action as oncogenes or tumor suppressors in leukemogenesis and progression; and rheostatic regulation of microRNAs in lymphocytes formation and function.

Larry J Suva

Larry J. Suva, Ph.D.

Professor and Head, Department of Veterinary Physiology & Pharmacology, Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences

Dr. Suva's entire research focus is on the skeletal consequences of disease. These interest include breast cancer bone metastasis and multiple myeloma, new chemotherapy approaches for osteosarcoma as well as fracture healing, bone anabolism and bone infections. Current research efforts include a focus on in vivo models (murine and larger animals) to discover regulatory pathways important for bone physiology, the development of rare bone disease pre-clinical model(s) involving larger animal species that have the potential to change the study of bone turnover as well as bone physiology, and provide novel insight into future therapeutic directions. Complete list of peer-reviewed published work can be found here.