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By Christina Crowe
Jiacheng “Jason” Sun, student in the lab of Jianyi Zhang, M.D., Ph.D., T. Michael and Gillian Goodrich Endowed Chair of Engineering Leadership, Department of Biomedical Engineering, has been awarded a predoctoral fellowship from the American Heart Association, effective January 1, 2023.

The award runs through the end of 2024 to support Sun’s research on, “Cardiomyocyte-specific Modified mRNA for Myocardial Regeneration in a Porcine Myocardial Infarction Model.”

“The novelty of this research is that we utilized a cutting-edge technology called Cardiomyocyte Specific Modified mRNA Translation system (CM SMRTs) to transiently and exclusively overexpress our candidate gene hPKM2 into the cardiomyocyte in the myocardial infarcted large mammal,” Sun says. “This gene will turn on the cell division of cardiomyocytes and remuscularize the heart, which in turn will decrease the scar size and improve heart function.”

Sun has been working in Zhang’s lab as a graduate research assistant for just over two years. He has a medical degree from Dallan Medical University, in China, and is pursuing his Ph.D. at UAB. He started out as a visiting researcher at UAB, studying extracellular vesicle biology and cardiovascular diseases.

In addition to being an AHA member, Sun is an editorial board member and academic editor for Cardiovascular Therapeutics, and guest editor for Frontiers in Cardiovascular Medicine.