Team


Ke Cheng

Principal Investigator

Dr. Ke Cheng is a Randall B. Terry, Jr. Distinguished Professor in Regenerative Medicine in the Department of Molecular Biomedical Sciences at NC State University and in the UNC/NCSU joint Department of Biomedical Engineering. He is an adjunct professor at the UNC Eshelman School of Pharmacy. He also serves as the co-director of the functional tissue engineering program at the Comparative Medicine Institute. Dr. Cheng’s formal education began with a B.S. degree in Pharmaceutical Engineering from Zhejiang University, followed by a Ph.D. degree in Biological Engineering from University of Georgia and post-graduate training and junior faculty experiences at UCLA School of Medicine and Cedars-Sinai Medical Center. Dr. Cheng’s research has been published in journals like Lancet, Nature BME, Nature Comms, Science Advances, J of Clinical Investigation, Circulation, Circulation Research, Biomaterials and others. His work has been directly translated into two successful Investigational New Drug (IND) applications and licensed to several biotech companies. Dr. Cheng is Associate Editor of J Cell Mol Med and editorial board member of Circulation Research. He is a Fellow of AIBME and AHA. He is also a chartered member of the NIH BMBI Study Section (2019-2023).

Ke (Kevin) Huang

Assistant Research Professor

Kevin originally received education from a medical background, and then received his scientific research training at North Carolina State University and Duke University. Currently, he is an assistant research professor in the Department of Molecular Biomedical Sciences at North Carolina State University. His research focuses on investigating the use of stem cells and stem cell derived particles for developing the regenerative therapeutics. Additionally, he has been focused on animal cardiac disease models and translational medicine that will aid in the development and execution of this study. Besides research, he enjoys spending time with his family, playing the guitar and working out.

Uyen Dinh

Assistant Research Professor

Uyen is a junior faculty in the Cheng Lab. She received her Bachelor’s degree from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro in Biology (focused in Genetics), with minors in Chemistry and Studio Arts. Her undergraduate research thesis “Genetics of Speciation in Drosophila Ananassae from Southeast Asia and the South Pacific Islands,” was completed under the guidance of Dr. Malcolm Schug. Before returning to school to pursue her Ph.D. degree, she worked for about two years for Eton Bioscience, a DNA sequencing company in the RTP area. She did postdoctoral research training with Dr. Ke Cheng. Her current research focuses on developing a therapeutic to treatment pulmonary fibrosis. In her free time, she enjoys spending time with her puppy, traveling, and working out.

Sarah Leviton

Executive Assistant

Sarah is the Executive Assistant to Dr Cheng. Her position includes assisting Dr. Cheng, as well as collaborating with the Lab group regarding on-going tasks in the Cheng Lab. In managing the Cheng Lab, she strives to communicate effectively, to ensure that current processes and lab inventory are accurate and efficient. She earned a Master of Arts degree in Educational Media from Appalachian State University and she earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Communication Studies from UNC Wilmington. She has extensive experience working in higher education and communicative-based roles. Outside of the office, she enjoys spending time with family and friends, running, baking and traveling!

Shiqi Hu

Research Associate

Shiqi received her Ph.D. degree from the College of Chemical and Biological Engineering, Zhejiang University, China in 2017. She has lots of experience on anticancer drug delivery systems and tumor microenvironment, including polymer synthesis, nanoparticle preparation and establishment of cancer models.

Dashuai Zhu

Postdoctoral Scientist

Dashuai received his Ph.D. degree in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology from Nankai University, China and then became a postdoctoral researcher in the Department of Molecular Biomedical Sciences at NC State University. His research focuses on myocardial repair and regeneration after ischemic insults by using biomedical engineering techniques. Dashuai has lots of animal handling experience, including surgery, medication/treatment, as well as histological processing and pathological evaluation. In his free time, he enjoys movies and swimming.

Mengrui Liu

Postdoctoral Scientist

Mengrui received her Ph.D. degree from the College of Pharmacy at Shandong University, China in 2019. Her research focuses on the design and application of nano-scale drug delivery systems for cancer therapy. She was also trained the modulation of tumor microenvironment in Dr. Leaf Huang’s Lab at UNC. Mengrui has lots of experience in the synthesis of multifunctional nanomaterials, nanoparticle preparation and mice model establishment. Outside lab, she enjoys reading, hiking, and traveling with her family and friends.

Zhenzhen Wang

Postdoctoral Scientist

Zhenzhen received her Ph.D. degree from Changchun Institute of Applied Chemistry, University of Chinese Academy of Sciences, Jilin, China, in 2018. After a postdoctoral training at NIEHS for almost two years, she joined Dr. Cheng’s lab to continue her postdoctoral career at 2020. Her research mainly focuses on engineering functional biomaterials for cancer therapy and regulating cellular signal pathway. Zhenzhen has lots of experience on the synthesis of functional biomaterials and mice model establishment. Outside lab, she enjoys hiking, playing tennis and watching movies. 

Shuo Liu

Postdoctoral Scientist

Shuo received her Ph.D. degree in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology from the medical school of Nankai University, China. She completed two years of scientific research training as a joint PhD student at The Scripps Research Institute and then joined Dr. Cheng’s lab as a postdoctoral researcher at 2021. Shuo has lots of experience in mechanism studies about cancer and genome instability. Outside of the lab, Shuo enjoys reading and spending time with her friends.

Kaiyue Zhang

Postdoctoral Scientist

Kaiyue received her Ph.D. degree in Cell Biology from the School of Medicine, Nankai University, China in 2021. Her research focuses on the applications of stem cells and their exosomes in regenerative medicine. Kaiyue has a lot of experience in the exosome modification, mice model establishment, and molecular imaging. In her free time, she enjoys gardening and spending time with her family and friends.

Jiaming Liu

Postdoctoral Scientist

Jiaming received his Ph.D. degree from National Center for Nanoscience and Technology, University of Chinese Academy of Sciences, China in 2021. His research focuses on the development of nanozymes and hydrogel for biomedical applications, including cancer therapy, anti-bacteria and respiratory disease treatment. In his free time, he enjoys photography and watching movie.

Panagiotis Tasoudis

Postdoctoral Scientist

Panos received his M.D. from University of Thessaly, Greece. His research is focused on biomedical devices and the applications of stem cells and their exosomes in regenerative medicine. He aspires to become a Cardiothoracic surgeon and he is also affiliated with the Cardiothoracic surgery department at UNC where he is doing outcomes research. He has a strong interest in sports, was a professional basketball player and 3 times whole Greece kick-boxing champion. 

Kristen Popowski

Postdoctoral Scientist

Kristen received her Ph.D. degree in the Comparative Biomedical Sciences program at NC State University and continued her research in Cheng Lab as a postdoc. She received her Bachelor’s degree in Animal Science from the University of Massachusetts Amherst. Her research focuses on the use of pulmonary stem cells for the treatment of pulmonary fibrosis. In her free time, she enjoys cooking and spending time with her cat, Oliver.

Junlang Li

PhD candidate

Junlang is a Ph.D. candidate in the Joint Biomedical Engineering Program at UNC-Chapel Hill & NC State University. He received his Bachelor’s degree in Biological Science from Nankai University in 2019 and his undergraduate research focused on tissue-engineered vascular graft (TEVG) in Dr. Deling Kong’s lab. In Columbus, Ohio, he conducted his undergraduate thesis under the guidance of Dr. Christopher Breuer at Nationwide Children’s Hospital. Currently, his research focuses on delivery strategies and mechanism discovery for stem cell therapy in the treatment of myocardial infarction. Outside of the lab, he likes playing the guitar, watching soccer/basketball match and photography.

Halle Lutz

DVM/PhD student

Halle received her Bachelor’s degree in Biology from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill with minors in Chemistry and Chinese. Her undergraduate research thesis, “Cell-Mediated Drug Delivery as a Treatment to Inhibit Restenosis,” led her to join Dr. Cheng’s lab. She is now in the combined DVM/PhD program at NC State University. Her research currently focuses on the treatment of heart and lung diseases using stem cells. Outside of the lab, Halle enjoys reading, hiking, and playing with her dog, Yeti.

Asma Ghodsi

PhD student

Asma received her Master’s degree in Cell and Developmental Biology from Royan Institute. She is currently a PhD student in the Comparative Biomedical Sciences program. Her Master’s research focused on Natural Killer Cell expansion for the purpose of Cancer immunotherapy. She has now joined Dr. Cheng’s lab to work on cell derivatives for lung regenerative medicine. In her free time, she enjoys spending time with her family and watching movies.

Xiao Cheng

PhD student

Xiao is a Ph.D. student in the Joint Biomedical Engineering Program at UNC-Chapel Hill & NC State University. He received his bachelor’s degree in Materials Physics from Nanjing University in 2018, and a Master’s degree in Mechanical Engineering and Materials Science from Duke University in 2020. His research is now focusing on cancer metastasis mechanisms. Outside the lab, he enjoys spending time with his family and working out.

Mingqian He

PhD student

Mingqian is currently a Ph.D. student in the Joint Biomedical Engineering Program at UNC-Chapel Hill & NC State University. She received her Bachelor’s degree in Biological Science from Nankai University in 2021. Her undergraduate research focused on regenerative neural conduit, tissue-engineered vascular graft (TEVG), and engineered organoids in Dr. Deling Kong’s lab. Currently, her research focuses on the molecular design of PROTACs for cardiac regeneration therapy. Outside of the lab, Mingqian likes spending time with friends, working out for bodybuilding, cooking, watching bodybuilding competitions and esports games.

Weihang Zhang

PhD student

Weihang is a Ph.D. student in the Joint Biomedical Engineering Program at UNC-Chapel Hill & NC State University. She received her bachelor’s degree in Chemical Engineering from Dalian University of Technology in 2022. Her research projects in undergraduate focused on drug delivery for oncological therapy. And now her research is related to exosomes’ roles in cancer. When she’s free, she enjoys admiring natural landscape, hiking and meeting new friends.

Yilan Hu

PhD student

Yilan is a Ph.D. student in the Joint Biomedical Engineering Program at UNC-Chapel Hill & NC State University. She received her Bachelor’s degree in Biological Technology from the University of Science and Technology Beijing in 2017 and a Master’s degree in Biological Engineering from the Institute of Biophysics, Chinese Academy of Sciences, in 2020. Her graduate research was about EV isolation and proteomics. Currently, her research focuses on drug delivery. Outside the lab, she enjoys lying in bed and reading novels.

Yuan Li

PhD student

Yuan “Kevin” Li is a Ph.D. student in the UNC/NCSU Joint Department of BME. In 2022, Yuan graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Biomedical Engineering from University of Florida, where he primarily worked with Dr. Christine Schmidt and focused on engineering novel materials and therapeutics to stimulate damaged peripheral and spinal neurons to regenerate. Yuan conducted his honors thesis on “The Role of In-vitro Screening of Various Parameters of Tissue Engineering Approaches to Achieve Better Neural Regeneration Outcomes.” Currently, Yuan is investigating the key players in cardioimmunology and studying the potential of using large animal models of myocardial infarction to develop regenerative therapeutics. When Yuan is not at the lab, you can find him hanging out with friends, enjoying nature, and learning to play the guitar.

Moriah Zarzar

Master’s student

Moriah is a graduate student in the Masters of Physiology program at North Carolina State  University. She works with PhD candidate, Kristen Popowski, in researching the use of lung stem cells as therapeutics for pulmonary fibrosis. In her free time, she enjoys hiking, playing guitar, and watching live music. 

Dylan Silkstone

Undergraduate Research Assistant

Dylan is an undergraduate student majoring in Biomedical and Health Science Engineering at North Carolina State University with minors in Tissue Engineering and Biotechnology. He works with PhD candidate, Kristen Popowski, to research the use of lung stem cell derivatives to treat pulmonary fibrosis. Outside of the lab, he enjoys spending time with his friends, hiking, and playing with his cat, Ollie.

Megan Cislo

Undergraduate Research Assistant

Megan is an undergraduate student studying Nutrition Science and Biology with a concentration in Integrative Physiology and Neurobiology at North Carolina State University. She works with PhD candidate, Kristen Popowski, on the application of Lung Spheroid Cells and their products as treatments for pulmonary fibrosis and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. When not in the lab, you can find Megan spending time with friends, trying new coffee shops, and playing mini-golf.


Cheng Lab Alumni with current position

– Adam Vandergriff: Research Scientist *** – Eric Henry: Process Scientist, BioMedomics Inc. *** -Tyler Allen: Postdoc Scientist, Duke University Medical School *** -James De Andrade: Professor, Técnica Cirúrgica Veterinária; Semiologia de Pequenos Animais – ICA – UFVJM *** -Jinying Zhang: Professor and Deputy Director, Cardiovascular Medicine, Zhengzhou University 1st Affiliated Hospital *** -Deliang Shen: Associate Professor, Cardiovascular Medicine, Zhengzhou University 1st Affiliated Hospital *** -Junnan Tang: Attending Physician, Cardiovascular Medicine, Zhengzhou University 1st Affiliated Hospital *** -Li Qiao: Attending Physician, Cardiovascular Medicine, Hebei University 2nd Affiliated Hospital *** – Yongjun Li: Professor and Director, Cardiovascular Medicine, Hebei University 2nd Affiliated Hospital *** – Feiran Liu: Resident, Beijing Hospital *** – Ke Huang: Postdoc, Duke University *** – Teng Su: Duke University *** – Wei Liu: Associate Professor, Dalian University of Technology *** -Chi Zhang: Attending Doctor, Sixth Hospital of Shanghai *** -Zhenhua Li: Associate Professor, Hebei University *** -Xianyun Wang: Associate researcher, First Hospital of Hebei Medical University*** -Mengjie Xie: PhD student, Beijing Hospital*** -Guojun Yang: Ph.D/M.D student, Peking Union Medical College*** -Sichen Zhang: Attending Doctor, Beijing Hospital*** -Jhon Cores: Associate Medical Writer, PSI CRO AG*** -Xuan Mei: Postdoctoral Scientist, Harvard Medical School***


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