Lab Members

Bojan Cercek, MD, PhD
Physician Scientist; Director, Cardiac Intensive Care Unit

Bojan Cercek, MD, PhD, is a graduate from the University of Ljubljana and Karolinska Institute in Stockholm. He completed his residency and fellowship at Cedars-Sinai and worked several years in the experimental laboratory of William Ganz, MD. Cercek's initial research was directed to thrombolytic therapy of acute myocardial infarction. He has completed the largest trial of antibiotic treatment of acute coronary syndromes. His experimental research is investigating the early phases of atherosclerosis and he has established several experimental models of early vessel wall thickening.

Kuang-Yuh Chyu, MD, PhD
Physician Scientist; Associate Director, Cardiac Intensive Care Unit

Kuang-Yuh Chyu, MD, PhD, received his medical degree from the National Yang-Ming Medical College in Taiwan and earned his doctorate degree in physiology at the University of California, Los Angeles. He completed his internship and residency in internal medicine at Los Angeles County + University of Southern California Medical Center and his clinical fellowship in cardiology at Cedars-Sinai, where he also completed a postdoctoral research fellowship. Chyu joined the Division of Cardiology at Cedars-Sinai as a faculty and physician scientist in 2000. His interests include critical cardiac care and atherosclerotic vascular disease. His current research includes defining the role of LDL and its related peptides as potential immune modulation antigens to reduce atherosclerosis; studying the role of HDL, and apoA1 and its mutant (apoA1milano) in modulating atherosclerotic vascular disease.

Behrooz G. Sharifi, PhD
Research Scientist

Behrooz Sharifi, PhD, earned his doctorate in biochemistry from the University of Kansas. He has worked on various aspects of biochemical and molecular signaling in developing an understanding of the pathogenesis of cardiovascular diseases. His research expertise covers gene expression and signaling in the regulation of cell differentiation, proliferation, migration and apoptosis. Specifically, Sharifi has a long-standing interest in identifying the role of matricellular protein tenascin-C (TNC) in cardiovascular diseases.

Paul Dimayuga, PhD
Research Scientist

Paul Dimayuga, PhD, earned his doctorate in experimental cardiovascular research at the Malmo University Hospital, Lund University, Sweden in 2001. He joined the Oppenheimer Atherosclerosis Research Center that same year as a postdoctoral researcher investigating the role of the immune system in the host response to vascular injury. Using the knowledge gained from these studies, he has focused on the role of CD8+ T cells in atherosclerosis and other vascular diseases in the P. K. Shah Laboratory. He is currently involved in the atherosclerosis vaccine project and is investigating methods to identify antigen-specific CD8+ T cells in atherosclerosis.

Ana Arias, BSc
Research Associate

Ana Arias, BSc, earned her bachelor's degree in biology at the University of El Salvador. She joined the lab of Rocio Sierra-Honigmann, MD, PhD, as a research laboratory assistant in 2003 to investigate the angiogenic mechanisms of leptin during wound healing. In 2006, she continued her role as a research associate with Behrooz Sharifi, PhD, and his group in the P. K. Shah Lab. Arias provides her expertise in tissue analysis by immunohistochemistry, enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay and handling of mouse colonies for experimental procedures. She feels privileged to participate in the studies on the mechanisms and therapies of atherosclerosis.

Fuqiang Li, PhD
Project Scientist

Fuqiang Li, PhD, earned his doctorate in preventive veterinary medicine at the China Agricultural University, Beijing in 2000. After, he worked as a postdoctoral researcher on phage display library of porcine immunoglobulin at University of Glasgow with a Wellcome Trust Fellowship. He joined the P. K. Shah Lab in 2004 to investigate the genetic and molecular mechanisms of atherosclerosis using animal models and state of the art molecular biology techniques. Li has been actively involved in the studies of expression and regulation of pleiotrophin in macrophages, and its role in neovascularization of atherosclerotic plaques.

Wai Man Lio, BSc
Research Associate

Wai Man Lio (Nicole), BSc, earned her bachelor's degree in biochemistry at University of California, Los Angeles in 2007. She joined the P. K. Shah Laboratory in 2008 to study various therapeutic approaches for atherosclerosis, focusing on the immunology side of the underlying mechanism. She is experienced in Flow Cytometry, immune cells culture, molecular biology techniques, microdissection of mice and tissue staining techniques. One of her projects focused on how the effects of lipid environment on T cells show that T cells are more active under high cholesterol condition associated with changes in lipid rafts, cellular cholesterol content, immune biomarkers and T-cell antigen receptor ligation signaling molecule activation.

Minghui Qin, PhD
Project Scientist

Minghui Qin, PhD, earned her bachelor’s degree from the Norman Bethune College of Medicine, Jilin University in China, and her PhD in microbiology from the University of Occupational and Environmental Health, in Japan. She then joined the laboratory of Murty Madiraju, VVS, PhD, at the University of Texas at Tyler, to study the replication mechanism of mycobacteria as it relates to its intracellular pathogenesis. Qin joined the group of Behrooz Sharifi, PhD, in the P. K. Shah Lab in 1999. Her current research is the focus on cardiomyocyte regeneration and the effect of eosinophils in response to lipid overload.

Colleen Sam, DO, CCRP
Clinical Research Coordinator

Colleen Sam, DO, CCRP, is a clinical research coordinator at the Cedars-Sinai Heart Institute. She earned her doctoral degree from the University of North Texas Health Science Center at Fort Worth and then moved to Southern California to complete her internship. She began her research career at Cedars-Sinai in 1998 and later joined the Division of Cardiology in 2009 working with in the P. K. Shah Lab. She is excited to be working in a dynamic field of human clinical trials studying investigational therapies for patients with high cholesterol, statin intolerance and atherosclerosis.

Lai Wang, MD
Project Scientist

Lai Wang, MD, received her medical degree at the School of Medicine, Shanghai Jiao Tong University, China. After post-doctoral training at UCLA, she joined the group of Behrooz Sharifi, PhD, in the P. K. Shah Lab studying varying aspects of cardiovascular diseases. Her research is focused on the role of gene therapy in cardiovascular diseases and Alzheimer’s employing various viral vectors including adeno-associated virus and retroviruses. Her research also includes identification of function of novel genes such as tenascin C, pleiotrophin, GATA 3 and KLF 14 in cardiovascular diseases and their signaling pathways in order to develop novel therapeutic strategies to control cardiovascular and inflammatory diseases.

Mingjie Yang, PhD
Project Scientist

Mingjie Yang, PhD, earned his doctorate in preventive medicine at the Third Military Medical University, China in 2001. He joined the P. K. Shah Laboratory under the direction of Behrooz Sharifi, PhD, in 2007, and is currently working as a project scientist to investigate molecular biological mechanisms involved in atherosclerosis. Yang’s research interests include macrophage phenotype detection, gene promoter activity analysis and transcription factor binding site analysis. He is taking part in the projects on the role of macrophage GATA3 gene expression in atherosclerosis and myocardial infarction.

Ada Yukht, BSc
Research Associate

Ada Yukht, BSc, earned her bachelor's degree in genetics from the University of California, Davis in 1991. After she graduated, she joined Cedars-Sinai to work with Philip Kern, MD, in the Department of Endocrinology, designing and performing complex experiments in LPL research. In 1995, she moved to the Ophthalmology Research Laboratories under the leadership of Steven Wechsler, PhD, to study ocular HSV-1 latency and reactivation. The experience that she gained in this laboratory included recombinant DNA techniques and virology that proved to be a considerable asset when she joined the Oppenheimer Atherosclerosis Research Center in 2002. Since then she has become a central figure in molecular cloning projects within the lab leading to the development of viral vectors. These have been used in a variety of gene therapy projects either to deliver a therapeutic protein or to be used in proof-of-concept studies.

Xiaoning Zhao, PhD
Project Scientist

Xiaoning Zhao, PhD, earned her doctorate in molecular epidemiological science at the Fourth Military Medical University in China. Before coming to the United States, she investigated a DNA vaccine against HCV at Fourth Military Medical University. She joined the P. K. Shah Laboratory in 2000 and was involved in a variety of research projects, mainly including: clarifying the molecular mechanism of atherosclerosis and developing Peptide-based vaccine to reduce atherosclerosis; demonstrating the inhibitory effect of green tea derived epigallocatechin gallate on vascular smooth muscle cells in vivo and in vitro and identifying the effect of nitric oxide on proliferation of vascular smooth muscle cells.

Jianchang Zhou, PhD
Project Scientist

Jianchang Zhou, PhD, earned her doctorate from the Third Military Medical University, China, and joined the P. K. Shah Laboratory in 2007. Her current research involves various aspects of immune-modulating therapies to treat atherosclerosis, including: the role of CD8 T cells, subtypes of CD8 T cells and its cross-talk with macrophages in atherogenesis; exploring the mechanisms of a peptide-based vaccine in reducing atherosclerosis and strategies of cholesterol profile modulation for reducing atherosclerosis.

Contact the Shah Lab

127 S. San Vicente Blvd.
Advanced Health Sciences Pavilion, 9th Floor
Los Angeles, CA 90048