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Song Lab

Cardiomyogenesis, Human Heart Disease, and Regenerative Medicine

The goal of research in our lab is to understand mechanisms governing cardiomyocyte lineage commitment and pathogenesis of cardiomyopathies, which should form bases to develop potential therapeutic strategies for heat disease. We actively collaborate with scientists in the field with the long term goal of promoting the use of regenerative medicine to improve human health.  


Contact us:

Kunhua Song, Ph.D.

Division of Cardiology, Department of Medicine
Charles C. Gates Center for Regenerative Medicine and Stem Cell Biology
University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus
12700 E. 19th Ave B-139
Aurora, CO 80045
Phone: (303) 724-8132
Fax: (303) 724-5450

Good News for Our Members:

1. Andrew, a phD candidate in Pharmacology Graduate Program has been awarded an AHA predoctoral fellowship begining with 07/01/2018. An amazing score, 0.19%!

2. Yingqion and Yuanbiao's second child joined their lovely family on 11/5/2018.

3. Walter has been awarded an AHA postdoctoral fellowship begining with 01/01/2019.

4. Congwu's paper was accepted for publication in Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A​. 

1. Molecular mechanisms for decisions of cardiomyocyte fate.

Terminally differentiated fibroblasts and pluripotent stem cells can transdifferentiate or differentiate into cardiomyocytes. We attempt to unravel mechanisms underlying determination of cardiomyocyte fate, and use mutant mouse models to dissect signaling pathways governing heart development.

2. Laboratory models of human heart disease.

We unravel molecular mechanisms for development of heart disease and search for potential cures by using induced pluripotent stem cells (iPS cells) derived from heart disease patients.


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  •  alt=Kunhua Song

    Assistant Professor of Medicine,
    Divison of Cardiology,
    Charles C. Gates Center for
    Regenerative Medicine and Stem Cell Biology,
    Training Faculty:
    - Molecular and Cellular Pharmacology Graduate Program
    - Cell Biology, Stem Cells and Development Graduate Program
    - Medical Scientist Training Program (MD/PhD)


  •  alt=Congwu Chi

    B.S. Shandong University, Shandong, China
    Ph.D. Fudan University, Shanghai, China
    Interests: Stem cell-based disease modeling and regenerative medicine

Postdoctoral Fellows

  •  alt=Walter Knight

    B.A. (cum laude) - Cornell University, Ithaca, NY
    Ph.D. - University of Rochester, Rochester, NY
    Interests: Modeling human cardiomyopathies
  •  alt=Yuanbiao Zhao

    B.S. - Wuhan University, Wuhan
    Ph.D. - China Agricultural University, Beijing
    Interests: Cardiomyogenesis and regenerative medicine

PhD Student

  •  alt=Andrew Riching

    B.S. - University of Wisconsin-Madison
    Ph.D. candidate in Molecular and Cellular Pharmacology Program
    Interests: Epigenetic regulation of cardiomyogenesis, translational research and regenerative medicine

Research Assistant

  • Yingqiong Cao

    B.S. - Dalian University of Technology, Dalian
    M.S. - China Agricultural University, Beijing
    Interests: Molecular mechanisms and laboratory models of human heart disease.

Past Lab Members

  •  alt=Ellis Aune

    University of Colorado-Boulder, class of 2018
    Interests: Human stem cell biology, electrophysiology, biochemistry, molecular engineering for heart disease.


Pilar Londono

B.S. - Metropolitan State University of Denver
M.S. University of Colorado - Denver

​​Bagchi RA, Ferguson BS, Stratton MS, Hu T, Cavasin MA, Sun L, Lin YH, Liu D, Londono P, Song K, Pino MF, Sparks LM, Smith SR, Scherer PE, Collins S, Seto E, McKinsey TA (2018). HDAC11 suppresses the thermogenic program of adipose tissue via BRD2.JCI Insight. 2018 Aug 9;3(15). pii: 120159. doi: 10.1172/jci.insight.120159.

Riching AS, Zhao Y, Cao Y, Londono P, Xu H, Song K (2018). Suppression of Pro-fibrotic Signaling Potentiates Factor-mediated Reprogramming of Mouse Embryonic Fibroblasts into Induced Cardiomyocytes.J Vis Exp. 2018 June 3; (136). doi: 10.3791/57687.

Zhou H, Morales MG, Hashimoto H, Dickson ME, Song K, Ye W, Kim MS, Niederstrasser H, Wang Z, Chen B, Posner BA, Bassel-Duby R, and Olson EN. (2017). ZNF281 enhances cardiac reprogramming by modulating cardiac and inflammatory gene expression. Genes & Development 31: 1770-1783.

Zhao Y, Londono P, Cao Y, Sharpe EJ, Proenza C, O’Rourke R, Jones KL, Jeong MY, Walker LA, Buttrick PM, McKinsey TA, and Song K. (2015) High-efficiency reprogramming of fibroblasts into cardiomyocytes requires suppression of pro-fibrotic signaling.​ Nature Communications 6: 8243.

Du Bois P, Pablo Tortola C, Lodka D, Kny M, Schmidt F, Song K, Schmidt S, Bassel-Duby R, Olson EN, Fielitz J. (2015) Angiotensin II Induces Skeletal Muscle Atrophy by Activating TFEB-Mediated MuRF1 Expression. Circulation Research 117: 424-36.

Long C*, Grueter CE*, Song K*, Qin S, Qi X, Kong YM, Shelton JM, Richardson JA, Zhang CL, Bassel-Duby R, and Olson EN. (2014) Ataxia and Purkinje cell degeneration in mice lacking the CAMTA1 transcription factor. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 111: 11521-6. (*These authors contributed equally to the work).

Nam YJ, Song K, Luo X, Daniel E, Lambeth K, West K, Hill JA, DiMaio JM, Baker LA, Bassel-Duby R, and Olson EN. (2013) Reprogramming of human fibroblasts toward a cardiac fate. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 110, 5588-93.

Nam YJ, Song K, and Olson EN. (2013) Heart repair by cardiac reprogramming. Nature Medicine 19, 413-5.

Song K, Nam YJ, Luo X, Qi X, Tan W, Huang GN, Acharya A, Smith CL, Tallquist MD, Neilson EG, Hill JA, Bassel-Duby R, and Olson EN. (2012) Heart repair by reprogramming non-myocytes with cardiac transcription factors.​ Nature 485, 599-604.

Backs J, Song K, Bezprozvannaya S, Chang S, and Olson EN. (2006) CaM kinase II selectively signals to histone deacetylase 4 during cardiomyocyte hypertrophy. Journal of Clinical Investigation, 116, 1853-64.

Song K, Backs J, McAnally J, Qi X, Gerard RD, Richardson JA, Hill JA, Bassel-Duby R, and Olson EN. (2006). The transcriptional coactivator CAMTA2 stimulates cardiac growth by opposing class II histone deacetylases.​ Cell, 125(3):453-66. ​​