Cardiovascular Center

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The Benjamin Lab Members

Ivor Benjamin, MD, FAHA, FACC
Principal Investigator

Director-Cardiovascular Center
Chief-Division of Cardiovascular Medicine, Vice Chair-Translational Research Froedtert & Medical College of Wisconsin

Katie Mitzelfelt
Graduate Student

I have a broad interest in the area of stem cells and regenerative medicine. My project in the Benjamin Lab is modeling myofibrillar myopathy induced by a mutation in a small molecular weight heat shock protein, αB-crystallin, using differentiation of patient-specific iPSCs to both cardiomyocytes as well as multi-nucleated myotubes in culture.

Qiang Dai, PhD
Research Associate II

Our laboratory has longstanding interests in the role that stress response (HSF/HSP) pathways play in the development, progression, and, ultimately, the prevention of acquired and inheritable cardiac diseases.  
My studies of genetically engineered mouse models and somatic cell cultures are exploring the mechanisms underlying the effects of genetic, metabolic (e.g., redox), and other perturbations in ischemic cardioprotection and
heart failure.

Shuping Lai, PhD
Research Associate II

My research project aims on modeling cardiac diseases in a culture dish by utilizing patient specimens. We are creating cardiomyocytes from human induced pluripotent stem cells, differentiate them into cardiomyocytes and use them as a means to mimic the disease in a dish.
My major interests are drug-screenings and biochemical assays to exhibit different susceptibilities of cardiac cells to cardiac drugs, to predict adverse drug responses more accurately and to find best suitable drugs for cardiac diseases.


Michael Riedel, PhD
Research Scientist II

My current scientific research project focuses on human induced pluripotent stem cells and their differentiation into cardiomyocytes. I am responsible for the production and maintenance of human iPS cells that are generated from somatic cells and tissues of patients and their differentiation into cardiomyocytes. We are currently in the process of using these cardiomyocytes to develop a state-of-the-art approach to mimic atrial fibrillation and other diseases in a cell/tissue culture model. Our work will hopefully lead to a fuller understanding of how diseases affect the cells in the heart and how they progress over time.

Mai Thao
Postdoctoral Fellow

The redox states of the cell and its environment are crucial to maintaining ion homeostasis. In normal healthy states, oxidative stress and anti-oxidants are balanced; however, once oxidative stress exceeds anti-oxidants, a disease state occurs. Based on this traditional model, treatment with anti-oxidants will restore balance and return the state to normal. However, this model has failed to treat many diseases including cardiovascular diseases. Furthermore, emerging evidence indicates that this paradigm is far more complex than initially hypothesized. In addition, reductive stress is a newly discovered concept that further modifies the traditional model of oxidative stress in diseases.

Therefore, my project focuses on defining the parameters and conditions for reductive stress using a variety of model systems including cardiomyocytes and animals. By using analytical chemistry along with molecular biology techniques, I am able to determine the redox states of these model systems under certain conditions. Overall, this study will give us insight into the redox states of diseases so that we can properly treat cardiovascular diseases.
© 2014 Medical College of Wisconsin
Page Updated 07/22/2014