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).

Ashley Corley

Research Associate and Administrative Assistant

My name is Ashley Corley. I am a Research Associate and Administrative Assistant to Dr Cheng. My role involves both assisting Dr Cheng and managing the Cheng Lab. I facilitate the needs of the lab as well as the lab group to make sure daily operations in the lab run efficiently. I earned a Bachelors of Science degree in Mass Communication from North Carolina A&T State University and I earned an Associates degree in Applied Sciences in Histotechnology, I have extensive clinical experience both in direct patient care and indirect patient care. I work in collaboration with Dr Cheng’s non-profit organization American Association of Extracellular Vesicles as project manager. In my spare time I enjoy time with my family, outdoor activities, cooking 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. 

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.

Kristen Popowski

PhD candidate

Kristen is a Ph.D. student in the Comparative Biomedical Sciences program at NC State University. 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 student

Junlang received his Bachelor’s degree in Biological Science from Nankai University in 2019 and is currently a Ph.D. student in the Joint Biomedical Engineering Program at UNC-Chapel Hill & NC State University. His undergraduate research focused on tissue-engineered vascular graft (TEVG) in Dr. Deling Kong’s lab and he conducted his thesis, “Bisphosphonates’ Effect on Development of TEVGs” under the guidance of Dr. Christopher Breuer at Nationwide Children’s Hospital. Currently, his research focuses on therapeutic strategies and mechanism discovery for mesenchymal stem cell-based cardiac regeneration. Outside of the lab, he likes playing the guitar, watching soccer match and college sports.

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.

Uyen Dinh

Adjunct Assistant 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 Sterling, her Husky puppy, traveling, and working out.

Arianna George

Research Associate

Arianna received a Bachelor’s degree in Biochemistry and a Bachelor’s degree in Human Biology from North Carolina State University with a minor in Art + Design. She is currently spending her gap year working under the guidance of Dr. Uyen Dinh and Kristen Popowski to research the use of pulmonary stem cells for the treatment of pulmonary fibrosis. Outside of the lab, she enjoys spending time outdoors, working out, and watching Netflix.


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***


%d bloggers like this: