Photo of Stanford student and Stanford Bio-X Undergraduate Summer Research Program Participant Lejla Pepic.
2020 Undergraduate Summer Research Program Participant

Home Department: Biology
Mentor: Joseph Wu, Medicine (Cardiovascular Medicine) and Radiology

“Induced Pluripotent Stem Cell (iPSC)-Derived Exosomes as Biomarkers of Cardiomyopathy”

Cardiomyopathy is a disease of the heart muscle that can cause heart failure, the inability of the heart to meet the metabolic demands of the body, and sudden cardiac death. Many genetic mutations are known that predispose an individual to cardiomyopathy, but a large number of cardiomyopathy cases are idiopathic or have variable penetrance, meaning that biomarkers which can aid in detecting and evaluating the severity of cardiomyopathy are needed. Lejla will analyze the non-coding RNAs in secreted, membrane-bound vesicles called exosomes from iPSC-derived cardiac cells, using a combination of large-scale sequencing and dry-lab bioinformatics approaches. Her work will test the hypothesis that non-genetic factors such as long non-coding RNA might be harnessed as biomarkers to diagnose cardiomyopathies.