Department of Physiology and Pharmacology

Dean's Postdoctoral to Faculty Fellows

Xi Cheng

Xi Cheng, Ph.D.

Mentor: Bina Joe, Ph.D.

My research focuses on the roles of non-coding RNAs in complex polygenic diseases such as hypertension. I am especially interested in the application of interdisciplinary approaches combining computer science and biomedical science for my research projects. For example, one of my current research projects is to identify and characterize novel non-coding RNAs, e.g., long non-coding RNAs and circular RNAs, in the regulation of blood pressure, wherein advanced computational and bioinformatics methods are required to analyze the next-generation sequencing and microarray data. I have also been actively assisting and collaborating with other investigators by developing and applying bioinformatics pipelines to analyze whole genome sequencing data and amplicon sequencing data (e.g., 16S metagenomics). My long-term career goal is to tightly connect genetics research with machine learning and other computational approaches for guiding biomedical validation and therapeutic development in genetic diseases.

Dr. McCarthy

Cameron McCarthy, Ph.D.

Mentor: Bina Joe, Ph.D.

Hypertension has been described as a condition of premature vascular aging (relative to actual chronological age). In fact, many factors that contribute to the deterioration of vascular function as we age are accelerated in hypertension.  I am interested in the underlying causes as to why arteries from hypertensive animals and patients appear older than they actually are. I believe that a toxic accumulation of proteins and organelles, as a result of an ineffective cellular autophagy, causes cells in the vasculature to senesce and become dysfunctional.  As vascular age is a new clinically used index for cardiovascular risk, understanding this mechanism may assist in the development of new therapies to prevent premature vascular aging in hypertension.


Beng San yeoh, Ph.D.

Mentor: Dr. Matam Vijay-Kumar

Dietary supplements are formulated with the goal to improve heath; yet, a fraction of individuals partaking such highly-refined and concentrated ‘food alternatives’ has reported adverse effects, such as jaundice, cholemia and cholestatic liver injury. My research interest is to elucidate the molecular underpinnings of this phenomenon using mice susceptible to develop cholestasis following feeding on dietary inulin (a dietary fermentable fiber). Since inulin is increasingly used as a dietary supplement and a food additive, it is important to address if inulin has any untoward effects to human health. If there is any, then it would be vital to understand the underlying mechanism in order to design interventions for averting such adverse effects. Currently, I am focusing on three distinct areas pertinent to this research goal:

1. Delineate how bacterial fermentation of inulin, in mice with gut microbiotal dysbiosis, drives development of cholestasis and hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC).

2. Define how the anti-inflammatory property of dietary inulin steeps into immunosuppression and subverts the murine liver anti-tumor surveillance.

3. Elucidate how diet-induced perturbation of water/bile acid balance negatively affect the kidneys and the heart, i.e. cholemic nephropathy and cholecardia. 

Last Updated: 5/22/20