Zebrafish research may hold clues to heart disease

SUNY Upstate zebrafish heart research

PhD student Johnny Wang with his mentor, Jeffrey Amack, PhD

Guangliang “Johnny” Wang, a graduate student in Upstate’s Cell and Developmental Biology department, helped identify an important gene in zebrafish. Because of that, he had his research published in the journal Development (for biomedical sciences students, it’s vitally important to earn “first-author” status in scientific journals.)

Wang, MS, works with Principal Investigator Jeffrey Amack, PhD, assistant professor of Cell and Developmental Biology. Using a zebrafish model, Wang helped identify a gene that regulates the asymmetric development of the heart. (The accompanying photo appears on the cover of the 2011-2012 College of Graduate Studies program guide, to be distributed this fall).

“Considering the high incidence of heart left-right malformation at birth, this project will potentially lead to the diagnosis or therapeutic targets of congenital heart disease,” he said.

Wang came to Upstate four years ago after earning a master’s degree in biochemistry and molecular biology from Nankai University in China. His undergraduate degree in bioengineering is from Tianjin University of Science and Technology in China. He plans to get his PhD from Upstate in 2012.

“Upstate is an outstanding place for people who are pursuing a PhD,” Wang said. “Professors here are outstanding in their field and like to help students. There are many opportunities for students and post-docs to attend seminars and express their ideas freely.”

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