Current Environment:

Researcher | Research Overview

The heart is the "heart" of life. Congenital heart disease represents the most common classes of birth defects in humans. Heart disease is the number one killer on both sides of the age spectrum, resulting in significant mortality and morbidity in children and adults.

Research in our lab aims at understanding the genetic pathways for the formation and function of cardiac, skeletal and vascular smooth muscle cell type. In particular, we are interested in the transcriptional control of mammalian heart growth and differentiation, vascular smooth muscle differentiation as well as cell proliferation and differentiation-related human cardiovascular disorders, such as cardiac hypertrophy and heart failure. In addition, we study the biological function of microRNAs, a novel class of non-coding small RNAs, in stem cell development, function and muscle regeneration. We apply a variety of molecular, cellular, and genetic approaches, including transgenic and knock-out mice, to investigate the in vitro and in vivo functions of myocardin family of transcription factors during mammalian development and disease. The ultimate goal of our research is to delineate the molecular pathways for the development and function of muscle cell types and to use this information to design pharmacologic and genetic therapies for muscle-related human disease.

Focus of Research:

Current research in the lab focuses on three major areas:

I. Transcriptional and epigenetic control of mammalian cardiovascular development and function

II. miRNAs in cardiac muscle development and function

III. miRNAs in skeletal muscle development and regeneration

Researcher | Research Background

Dr. Da-Zhi Wang received his Ph.D. in 1998 from the Department of Biological Sciences of the University of Iowa in the laboratory of Prof. Jim Lin where he studied vertebrate development. Dr. Wang conducted his postdoctoral training in the laboratory of Prof. Eric Olson at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas from 1998 to 2002. As a postdoctoral fellow and instructor, Dr. Wang identified a novel transcription factor, myocardin, and demonstrated that myocardin is essential for cardiovascular development. In 2002, Dr. Da-Zhi Wang was recruited to UNC-CH as an Assistant Professor of the Department of Cell and Developmental Biology and a member of the Carolina Cardiovascular Biology Center (CCBC) to establish his independent research program. He was promoted to Associate Professor with tenure in 2008 at UNC. Dr. Wang was recruited to the Division of Cardiovascular Research of Boston Children's Hospital and Harvard Medical School in July 2009 and relocated his lab from Chapel Hill to Boston.

Researcher | Publications