The goal of research in our lab is to understand mechanisms governing cardiomyocyte lineage commitment and pathogenesis of cardiomyopathies, which should form bases to develop potential therapeutic strategies for heat disease. We actively collaborate with scientists in the field with the long term goal of promoting the use of regenerative medicine to improve human health.

Contact us:

Kunhua Song, Ph.D. 
Division of Cardiology, Department of Medicine 
Charles C. Gates Center for Regenerative Medicine and Stem Cell Biology
Linda Crnic Institute for Down Syndrome 
University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus 
12700 E. 19th Ave B-139 
Aurora, CO 80045 
Phone: (303) 724-8132 
Fax: (303) 724-5450

Good News for Our Members:

  1. Andrew, a phD candidate in Pharmacology Graduate Program has been awarded an AHA predoctoral fellowship begining with 07/01/2018. An amazing score, 0.19%!
  2. Walter has been awarded an AHA postdoctoral fellowship begining with 01/01/2019.

Molecular mechanisms for decisions of cardiomyocyte fate.

Terminally differentiated fibroblasts and pluripotent stem cells can transdifferentiate or differentiate into cardiomyocytes. We attempt to unravel cellular and molecular mechanisms underlying the determination of cardiomyocyte cell fate. The goal is to design therapeutic strategies for heart regeneration. 

Laboratory models of cardiac development and disease.

We unravel molecular mechanisms governing heart development & disease. The goal is to search for potential cures by using induced pluripotent stem cells derived from heart disease patients and pre-clinical animal models.



Kunhua Song
Assistant Professor of Medicine,
Divison of Cardiology,
Charles C. Gates Center for 
Regenerative Medicine and Stem Cell Biology,
Training Faculty:

  • Molecular and Cellular Pharmacology Graduate Program
  • Cell Biology, Stem Cells and Development Graduate Program 
  • Medical Scientist Training Program (MD/PhD) 


Congwu Chi
B.S. Shandong University, Shandong, China
Ph.D. Fudan University, Shanghai, China
Interests: Stem cell-based disease modeling and regenerative medicine

Postdoctoral Fellows

Walter Knight
B.A. - Cornell University, Ithaca, NY
Ph.D. - University of Rochester, Rochester, NY
Interests: Modeling human cardiomyopathies

Yuanbiao Zhao
B.S. - Wuhan University, Wuhan
Ph.D. - China Agricultural University, Beijing
Interests: Cardiomyogenesis and regenerative medicine

PhD Student

Andrew Riching
B.S. - University of Wisconsin-Madison
Ph.D. candidate in Molecular and Cellular Pharmacology Program
Interests: Epigenetic regulation of cardiomyogenesis, translational research and regenerative medicine

Research Assistant

Yingqiong Cao
B.S. - Dalian University of Technology, Dalian
M.S. - China Agricultural University, Beijing
Interests: Molecular mechanisms and laboratory models of human heart disease.

Past Lab Members

Ellis Aune
University of Colorado-Boulder, class of 2018
Interests: Human stem cell biology, electrophysiology, biochemistry, molecular engineering for heart disease.

Pilar Londono
B.S. - Metropolitan State University of Denver
M.S. University of Colorado - Denver

Chi C, Leonard A, Knight WE, Beussman KM, Zhao Y, Cao Y, Londono P, Aune E, Trembley MA, Small EM, Jeong MY, Walker LA, Xu H, Sniadecki NJ, Taylor MR, Buttrick PM, Song K (2018). LAMP-2B regulates human cardiomyocyte function by mediating autophagosome-lysosome fusion. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2018 Dec 24. pii: 201808618. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1808618116. [Epub ahead of print]​

Han KJ, Wu Z, Pearson CG, Peng J, Song K, Liu CW (2018). Deubiquitinase USP9X Maintains Centriolar Satellite Integrity by Stabilizing Pericentriolar Material 1 Protein.J Cell Sci. 2018 Dec 24. pii: jcs.221663. doi: 10.1242/jcs.221663. [Epub ahead of print]

Bagchi RA, Ferguson BS, Stratton MS, Hu T, Cavasin MA, Sun L, Lin YH, Liu D, Londono P, Song K, Pino MF, Sparks LM, Smith SR, Scherer PE, Collins S, Seto E, McKinsey TA (2018). HDAC11 suppresses the thermogenic program of adipose tissue via BRD2.JCI Insight. 2018 Aug 9;3(15). pii: 120159. doi: 10.1172/jci.insight.120159.

Riching AS, Zhao Y, Cao Y, Londono P, Xu H, Song K (2018). Suppression of Pro-fibrotic Signaling Potentiates Factor-mediated Reprogramming of Mouse Embryonic Fibroblasts into Induced Cardiomyocytes.J Vis Exp. 2018 June 3; (136). doi: 10.3791/57687.

Zhou H, Morales MG, Hashimoto H, Dickson ME, Song K, Ye W, Kim MS, Niederstrasser H, Wang Z, Chen B, Posner BA, Bassel-Duby R, and Olson EN. (2017). ZNF281 enhances cardiac reprogramming by modulating cardiac and inflammatory gene expression. Genes & Development 31: 1770-1783.​

Zhao Y, Londono P, Cao Y, Sharpe EJ, Proenza C, O’Rourke R, Jones KL, Jeong MY, Walker LA, Buttrick PM, McKinsey TA, and Song K. (2015) High-efficiency reprogramming of fibroblasts into cardiomyocytes requires suppression of pro-fibrotic signaling.​ Nature Communications 6: 8243.

Du Bois P, Pablo Tortola C, Lodka D, Kny M, Schmidt F, Song K, Schmidt S, Bassel-Duby R, Olson EN, Fielitz J. (2015) Angiotensin II Induces Skeletal Muscle Atrophy by Activating TFEB-Mediated MuRF1 Expression. Circulation Research 117: 424-36.

Long C*, Grueter CE*, Song K*, Qin S, Qi X, Kong YM, Shelton JM, Richardson JA, Zhang CL, Bassel-Duby R, and Olson EN. (2014) Ataxia and Purkinje cell degeneration in mice lacking the CAMTA1 transcription factor. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 111: 11521-6. (*These authors contributed equally to the work).

Nam YJ, Song K, Luo X, Daniel E, Lambeth K, West K, Hill JA, DiMaio JM, Baker LA, Bassel-Duby R, and Olson EN. (2013) Reprogramming of human fibroblasts toward a cardiac fate. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 110, 5588-93.

Nam YJ, Song K, and Olson EN. (2013) Heart repair by cardiac reprogramming. Nature Medicine 19, 413-5.

Song K, Nam YJ, Luo X, Qi X, Tan W, Huang GN, Acharya A, Smith CL, Tallquist MD, Neilson EG, Hill JA, Bassel-Duby R, and Olson EN. (2012) Heart repair by reprogramming non-myocytes with cardiac transcription factors.​ Nature 485, 599-604.

Backs J, Song K, Bezprozvannaya S, Chang S, and Olson EN. (2006) CaM kinase II selectively signals to histone deacetylase 4 during cardiomyocyte hypertrophy. Journal of Clinical Investigation, 116, 1853-64.

Song K, Backs J, McAnally J, Qi X, Gerard RD, Richardson JA, Hill JA, Bassel-Duby R, and Olson EN. (2006). The transcriptional coactivator CAMTA2 stimulates cardiac growth by opposing class II histone deacetylases.​ Cell, 125(3):453-66.
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