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Cheng, Ke, PhD

Associate Professor of Regenerative Medicine

Ke Cheng

BS: Pharmaceutical Engineering, Zhejiang University
PhD: Biological Engineering, University of Georgia

Dr. Cheng's Lab
Office phone: (919) 513-6157
Lab phone: (919) 515 7224
Fax: 919-513-7301

Research Areas:

Dr.  Ke Cheng’s laboratory studies regenerative medicine by using patient-derived stem cells, biomaterials, micro-RNAs and bioengineering approaches. Translational research is a major focus of the lab. Prior to the launch of Cheng Lab at North Carolina, Dr. Cheng directed a stem cell lab for multiple human trials, including the world’s first clinical trial using cardiac stem cells to treat heart attack. Currently, we are interested in isolating patient-specific and organ-specific adult stem cells and testing their regenerative potential in small/large animal models of diseases. Another focus of the lab is to identify novel micro-RNAs involved in tissue protection and regeneration. The lab is also interested in understanding the mechanisms of stem cell migration and extravasation after delivery. Dr. Cheng also holds an Associate Professor appointment at the UNC/NCSU Joint Department of Biomedical Engineering, where his research focuses on the development of novel nano theranostic agents for regenerative medicine as well as bioengineering approaches to augment stem cell engraftment and potency.

Highly motivated postdoctoral fellows, research associates, and graduate students interested in working in our lab should contact Dr. Cheng (


Representative Publications:

Cheng K, Malliaras K, Shen D, Smith J, Houde C, Galang G, Sun B, Marbán E. Intramyocardial injection of platelet gel promotes endogenous repair and augments cardiac function in rats with myocardial infarction. Journal of the American College Cardiology. 59:245-53, 2012.

Makkar RR, Smith RR, Cheng K, Malliaras K, Thomson LE, Berman D, Czer LS, Marbán L, Mendizabal A, Johnston PV, Russell SD, Schuleri KH, Lardo AC, Gerstenblith G, Marbán E. Intracoronary cardiosphere-derived cells for heart regeneration after myocardial infarction (CADUCEUS): a prospective, randomised phase 1 trial. Lancet. 379:895-904, 2012.

Lai Y, Cheng K (co-first author), Kisaalita WS. Three Dimensional Neuronal Cell Cultures More Accurately Model Voltage Gated Calcium Channel Functionality in Freshly Dissected Nerve Tissue. Plos One. 7:e45074, 2012.

Li T-S, Cheng K (co-first author), Malliaras K, Smith R, Zhang Y, Sun B, Matsushita N, Blusztajn A, Terrovitis J, Kusuoka H, Marbán L, Marbán E. Direct comparison of different stem cell types and subpopulations reveals superior paracrine potency and myocardial repair efficacy with cardiosphere-derived cells. Journal of the American College Cardiology. 59:942-53, 2012.

Malliaras K, Zhang Y, Seinfeld J, Galang G, Tseliou E, Cheng K, Sun B, Aminzadeh M, Marbán E. Cardiomyocyte proliferation and progenitor cell recruitment underlie therapeutic regeneration after myocardial infarction in the adult mouse heart. EMBO Molecular Medicine. 2012 Dec 19. doi: 10.1002/emmm.201201737.

Shen D, Cheng K (co-corresponding author), Marbán E. Dose-dependent functional benefit of human cardiosphere transplantation in mice with acute myocardial infarction. Journal of Cellular and Molecular Medicine. 16:2112-6, 2012.

Cheng K, Shen D, Smith J, Galang G, Sun B, Zhang J, Marbán E. Transplantation of platelet gel spiked with cardiosphere-derived cells boosts structural and functional benefits relative to gel transplantation alone in rats with myocardial infarction. Biomaterials. 33:2872-9, 2012.

Cheng K, Blusztajn A, Shen D, Li TS, Sun B, Galang G, Zarembinski TI, Prestwich GD, Marbán E, Smith RR, Marbán L. Functional performance of human cardiosphere-derived cells delivered in a Hyaluronan-Gelatin hydrogel. Biomaterials. 33:5317-24, 2012.

Cheng K, Shen D, Xie Y, Cingolani E, Malliaras K, Marbán E. Mechanism of extravasation of infused regenerative cells from microvessels into tissue parenchyma. Stem Cells. 30:2835-42, 2012.

Cheng K, Malliaras K, Li T-S, Sun B, Houde C, Galang G, Matsushita N, Marbán E. Magnetic enhancement of cell retention, engraftment and functional benefit after intracoronary delivery of cardiac-derived stem cells in a rat model of ischemia/reperfusion. Cell Transplantation. 21:1121-35, 2012.

Shen D, Wang X, Zhang L, Zhao X, Li J, Cheng K (co-corresponding author), Zhang J. The amelioration of cardiac dysfunction after myocardial infarction by the injection of keratin biomaterials derived from human hair. Biomaterials. 32:9290-9299, 2011.

Malliaras K, Li TS, Luthringer D, Terrovitis J, Cheng K, Chakravarty T, Galang G, Zhang Y, Schoenhoff F, Van Eyk J, Marbán L, Marbán E. Safety and efficacy of allogeneic cell therapy in infarcted rats transplanted with mismatched. Circulation. 125:100-12, 2011.

Lai Y, Asthana A, Cheng K, Kisaalita WS. Neural Cell 3D Microtissue Formation Is Marked by Cytokines’ Up-Regulation. PLoS One. 6: e26821, 2011.

Makkar R, Smith RR, Cheng K, Malliaras K, Thomson LE, Berman DS, Czer L, Marbán L, Mendizabal A, Johnston PV, Russell S, Schuleri KH, Lardo AC, Gerstenblith G, Marbán E. The CADUCEUS (CArdiosphere-Derived aUtologous Stem CElls to Reverse ventricUlar dySfunction) Trial. Circulation. 124: 2365-2374, 2011.

Cheng K, Li T-S, Malliaras K, Davis D, Zhang Y, Marbán E. Magnetic targeting enhances engraftment and functional benefit of iron-labeled cardiosphere-derived cells in myocardial infarction. Circulation Research. 106:1570-81, 2010.

Cheng K, Kisaalita WS. Exploring cellular adhesion and differentiation in a micro-/nano-hybrid polymer scaffold. Biotechnology Progress. 26:838-46, 2010.

Li T-S, Cheng K (co-first author), Lee S-T, Matsushita S, Davis D, Malliaras K, Zhang Y, Matsushita N, Smith RR, Marbán E. Cardiospheres recapitulate a niche-like microenvironment rich in stemness and cell-matrix interactions, rationalizing their enhanced functional potency for myocardial repair. Stem Cells. 28:2088-98, 2010.

Li T-S, Cheng K, Malliaras K, Matsushita N, Zhang Y, Marbán E. Expansion of human cardiac stem cells in physiological low oxygen improves cell production efficiency and potency for myocardial repair. Cardiovascular Research. 89:157-65, 2010.

Marban E, Cheng K. Heart to heart: Elusive mechanism of cell therapy. Circulation. 121:1981-4, 2010.

Zhang Y, Li T-S, Lee S-T, Wawrowsky K, Cheng K, Malliaras K, Galang G, Abraham R, Marban E. Dedifferentiation and Proliferation of Mammalian Cardiomyocytes. PLos One. 3;5(9):e12559, 2010.

Davis D, Zhang Y, Smith RR, Cheng K, Terrovitis J, Malliaras K, Li T, White A, Makkar R, Marbán E. Validation of the cardiosphere method to culture cardiac progenitor cells from myocardial tissue. PLoS One. 4:e7195, 2009.

Cheng K, Lai Y, Kisaalita WS. Three dimensional scaffolds for high throughput cell-based assay systems. Biomaterials. 29:2802-2812, 2008. 

Cheng K, Lai Y, Kisaalita WS. ENStem-A human neural progenitors cultured in 3D polystyrene scaffolds for high physiological relevance. Cellutions. 3:4-6, 2008.

Lai Y, Wang L, Cheng K, Kisaalita WS. Taking Cell Culture in Drug Discovery to the Third Dimension-A Patent Review. Recent Patents on Biomedical Engineering. Vol. 1, No.2, 2008

Hu G-G, Lu X-Y, Cheng K, Liu D-Q. Application potentials of on-line near infrared spectroscopy technology in manufacturing of traditional chinese medicine. China Journal of Chinese Materia Medica. 28:1117-1119, 2003.

Lab Personnel: