Skip to main content
NC State CVM
Think and Do The Extraordinary
GIVE to the College
Think and Do The Extraordinary
The Campaign for NC State CVM


Ke Cheng, PhD

Professor, Regenerative Medicine

Office: 919.513.6157
Lab: BioTherapeutics Laboratory
Lab Phone: 919.515.7224
Lab Fax: 919.513.7301

Ke is Professor in the Department of Molecular Biomedical Sciences at the College of Veterinary Medicine and Professor in the UNC/NCSU joint Department of Biomedical Engineering. He is also an adjunct professor at the UNC Eshelman School of Pharmacy and UNC School of Medicine. He directs the BioTherapeutics Lab which focuses on stem cells, biomaterials, and nanomedicine for heart and lung regeneration. His lab also studies novel mechanisms of cell extravasation, termed angiopellosis.

Prior to this position, Ke was an Assistant Professor at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center and University of California Los Angeles School of Medicine, where his research focused on stem cells and regenerative medicine in animal models. Ke also served as the director of the stem cell lab for multiple clinical trials including a clinical trial using patient's own cardiac stem cells to treat heart attack. Ke's formal education began with a B.S. in Pharmaceutical Engineering from the Zhejiang University, followed by a Ph.D. degree in Biological Engineering from University of Georgia.
NCSU Faculty Cluster: Translational Regenerative Medicine
American Heart Association
Biomedical Engineering Society
Regenerative Medicine, Veterinary Cancer Care
Dr. Ke Cheng’s laboratory studies regenerative medicine by using patient-derived stem cells, biomaterials, exosomes, 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 Full 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.

  • (2018) Body Builder: from Synthetic Cells to Engineered Tissue Hu S, Ogle B, Cheng K. | Current Opinion in Cell Biology  5: 37-42, 2018.
  • (2018) Magnetic Targeting of Stem Cell Derivatives Enhances Hepatic Engraftment into Structurally Normal Liver. Fagg WS, Liu N, Yang MJ, Cheng K, Chung E, Kim JS, Wu G, Fair J. | Cell Transplant.  2017:1868-1877. doi: 10.1177/0963689717737320.
  • (2018) Targeting regenerative exosomes to myocardial infarction using cardiac homing peptide. Vandergriff A, Huang K, Shen D, Hensley MT, Qian L, Caranasos TG, Cheng K. | Theranostics.  2018; 8(7):1869-1878 (Cover Image)
  • (2018) Targeted repair of heart injury by stem cells fused with platelet nanovesicles. Tang J, Su T, Huang K, Dinh PU, Wang Z, Vandergriff AC, Hensley MT, Cores J, Allen T, Li TS, Sproul E, Mihalko E, Lobo LJ, Ruterbories L, Lynch A, Brown AC, Caranasos TG, Shen D, Stouffer GA, Gu Z, Zhang J, Cheng K. | Nature Biomedical Engineering.  2, 17–26 (2018)
  • (2018) Concise Review: Is Cardiac Cell Therapy Dead? Embarrassing trial outcomes and new directions for the future. Junnan Tang, Jhon Cores, Ke Huang, Xiaolin Cui, Luo Lan, Jinying Zhang, Taosheng Li, Li Qian, Ke Cheng. | Stem Cells Translational Medicine.  7:354-359, 2018
  • (2017) K.Safety and Efficacy of Allogeneic Lung Spheroid Cells in a Mismatched Rat Model of Pulmonary Fibrosis. Cores J, Hensley MT, Kinlaw K, Rikard SM, Dinh PU, Paudel D, Tang J, Vandergriff AC, Allen TA, Li Y, Liu J, Niu B, Chi Y, Caranasos T, Lobo LJ, Cheng | Stem Cells Transl Med.  2017 Aug 7. doi: 10.1002/sctm.16-0374. [Epub ahead of print]
  • (2017) Derivation of therapeutic lung spheroid cells from minimally invasive transbronchial pulmonary biopsies.Dinh PC, Cores J, Hensley MT, Vandergriff AC, Tang J, Allen TA, Caranasos TG, Adler KB, Lobo LJ, Cheng K. | Respir Res.  2017 Jun 30;18(1):132. doi: 10.1186/s12931-017-0611-0.
  • (2017) Fabrication of Synthetic Mesenchymal Stem Cells for the Treatment of Acute Myocardial Infarction in Mice.Lan L, Tang J, Nishi K, Yan C, Dinh PU, Cores J, Kudo T, Zhang J, Li T, and Cheng K.  | Circulation Research.  2017Mar 15. pii: CIRCRESAHA.116.310374. doi: 10.1161/CIRCRESAHA.116.310374
  • (2017) Intracoronary allogeneic cardiosphere-derived stem cells are safe for use in dogs with dilated cardiomyopathy.MT Hensley, Tang J, Woodruff K, Defrancesco T, Tou S, Williams CM, Breen M, Meurs K, Keene B, Cheng K.  | J Cell Mol Medicine  2017 Mar 15. doi: 10.1111/jcmm.13077
  • (2017) Transplantation of human villous trophoblasts preserves cardiac function in mice with acute myocardial infarction. Wang Z, Dong N, Wu Q, Cheng K.  | J Cell Mol Med.  Accepted February 2017.
  • (2017) A Regenerative Cardiac Patch Formed by Spray Painting of Biomaterials onto the Heart. Tang J, Vandergriff A, Wang Z, Hensley M, Cores J, Allen T, Dinh PU, Zheng J, Caranasos T, Cheng K.  | Tissue Engineering  2017 Jan 9. doi: 10.1089/ten.TEC.2016.0492
  • (2017) Therapeutic microparticles functionalized with biomimetic cardiac stem cell membranes and secretome.Tang J, Shen D, Caranasos TG, Wang Z, Allen TA, Vandergriff A, Hensley MT, Dinh PU, Cores J, Li TS, ZhangJ, Kan Q, and Cheng K.  | Nature Communications. 2017 Jan 3;8:13724. doi: 10.1038/ncomms13724
  • (2016) “Angiopellosis as an Alternative Mechanism of Cell Extravasation.”Allen TA, Gracieux D, Talib M, Tokarz DA, Hensley MT, Cores J, Vandergriff A, Tang J, de Andrade JB, Dinh PU, Yoder JA, Cheng K.  | Stem Cells. 2016 Jun 28.
  • (2016) “Effects of Matrix Metalloproteinases on the Performance of Platelet Fibrin Gel Spiked With Cardiac Stem Cells in Heart Repair.” Shen D, Tang J, Hensley MT, Li T, Caranasos TG, Zhang T, Zhang J, Cheng K.  | Stem Cells Translational Medicine. 2016 Apr 25.
  • (2015) Adult Lung Spheroid Cells Contain Progenitor Cells and Mediate Regeneration in Rodents with Bleomycin-Induced Pulmonary FibrosisHenry E, Cores J, Hensley MT, Anthony S, Vandergriff A, de Andrade JBM, Allen T, Caranasos TG, Lobo LJ, Cheng K* | Stem Cells Transl Med 2015 Sep 10. pii: sctm.2015-0062. [Epub ahead of print]
  • (2015) Intravenous administration of cardiac progenitor cell-derived exosomes mediates heart regeneration after doxorubicin-induced dilated cardiomyopathyVandergriff A, de Andrade, Tang J, Hensley MT, and Cheng K | Stem Cell International 2015;2015:960926. doi: 10.1155/2015/960926. Epub Aug 17 (2015)
  • (2015) Cellular post-conditioning: allogeneic cardiosphere-derived cells reduce infarct size and attenuate microvascular obstruction when administered after reperfusion in pigs with acute myocardial infarctionKanazawa H, Tseliou E, Malliaras K, Yee K, Dawkins JF, De Couto G, Smith RR, Kreke M, Seinfeld J, Middleto RC, Cheng K, Luthringer D, Valle I, Chowdhury S, Fukuda K, Makkar RR, Marbán L, Marbán L | Circulation Heart Failure 2015 Jan 13. pii: CIRCHEARTFAILURE.114.001484
  • (2015) Cryoperservation of cardiomyocytes for cell-based assayVandergriff A, Hensley MT, Cheng K | J Vis Exp 2015 Apr 9;(98). doi: 10.3791/52726
  • (2015) Regenerative potential of canine cardiac stem cellsHensley MT, de Andrade J, Meurs K, Keene B, Tang J, Piedrahita J, Caranasos TG, Li TS, Cheng K | J Cell Mol Med 2015 Apr 9. doi: 10.1111/jcmm.12585
  • (2015) Cryopreservation of CardiomyocytesVandergriff A, Hensley MT, Cheng K | Methods Mol Biol 2015;1299:153-60. doi: 10.1007/978-1-4939-2572-8_12
  • (2014) Intracoronary cardiosphere-derived cells after myocardial infarction: evidence of therapeutic regeneration in the final 1-year results of the CADUCEUS trial (CArdiosphere-Derived aUtologous stem CElls to reverse ventricUlar dySfunction).Malliaras K, Makkar RR, Smith RR, Cheng K, Wu E, Bonow RO, Marbán L, Mendizabal A, Cingolani E, Johnston PV, Gerstenblith G, Schuleri KH, Lardo AC, Marbán E | J Am Coll Cardiol 63:110-22, 2014
  • (2014) Human cardiosphere-derived cells from advanced heart failure patients exhibit augmented functional potency in a mouse model of myocardial infarctionCheng K, Malliaras K, Smith RR, Shen D Sun B, Blusztajn A, Xie Y, Ibrahim A, Aminzadeh MA, Liu W, Li TS, De Robertis MA, Marbán L, Czer LS, Trento A, Marbán E | J Am Coll Cardiol Heart Fail 2:49-61, 2014
  • (2014) Therapeutic efficacy of cardiosphere-derived cells in a transgenic mouse model of nonischemic dilated cardiomyopathyAminzadeh MA, Tseliou E, Sun B, Cheng K, Malliaras K, Makkar RR, Marbán E | Eur Heart J 2014 May 27. pii: ehu196. [Epub ahead of print]
  • (2014) Exosomes as critical agents of cardiac regeneration triggered by cell therapyIbrahim A, Cheng K, Marban E | Stem Cell Reports 2:606-19, 2014
  • (2014) Cardiosphere-derived Cells Stimulate Cardiomyocyte Proliferation via β1 Integrin SignalingXie Y, Ibrahim A, Cheng K, Malliaras K, Shen D, Sun B, Cho HC, Marbán E. Human | Stem Cells 32:2397-406, 2014
  • (2014) Magnetic antibody-linked nanomatchmakers for therapeutic cell targetingCheng K (co-corresponding), Shen D, Hensley TM, Sun D, Malliaras K, De Couto G, Middleton RC, Marban E | Nature Communications Accepted. 5:4880 doi: 10.1038/ncomms5880 (2014). (Featured Image)
  • (2014) CD90/Thy-1-negative cardiosphere-derived cells exhibit augmented regenerative potency in humans and mice with myocardial infarctionCheng K (co-corresponding), Ibrahim A, Hensley MT, Sun B, Liu W, Smith RR, Marban E | J Am Heart Assoc 3(5):e001260, 2014
  • (2014) et al Allogeneic Cardiospheres Delivered via Percutaneous Transendocardial Injection Increase Viable Myocardium, Decrease Scar Size, and Attenuate Cardiac Dilatation in Porcine Ischemic CardiomyopathyYee K, Malliaras K, Kanazawa H, Tseliou E, Cheng K | PLOS One 9(12):e113805, 2014
  • (2014) Engineered biological wire restores electrical conduction in complete heart blockCingolani E, Ionta V, Cheng K, Giacomello A, Cho HC, Marban E | J Am Coll Cardiol 64:2575-85, 2014
  • (2014) Magnetic targeting of cardiosphere-derived stem cells with ferumoxytol nanoparticles for treating rats with myocardial infarctionVandergriff A, Hensley MT, Henry ET, Shen D, Anthony S, Zhang J, Cheng K | Biomaterials 35:8528-39, 2014
  • (2013) Validation of contrast-enhanced MRI to monitor regenerative efficacy after cell therapy in a porcine model of convalescent myocardial infarctionMalliaras K, Smith RR, Kanazawa H, Yee K, Seinfeld J, Tseliou E, Dawkins JF, Kreke M, Cheng K, Luthringer D, Ho CS, Blusztajn A, Valle I, Chowdhury S, Makkar RR, Dharmakumar R, Li D, Marbán L, Marbán E | Circulation 128: 2764-75, 2013
  • (2013) Cardiomyocyte proliferation and progenitor cell recruitment underlie therapeutic regeneration after myocardial infarction in the adult mouse heartMalliaras K, Zhang Y, Seinfeld J, Galang G, Tseliou E, Cheng K, Sun B, Aminzadeh M, Marbán E | EMBO Molecular Medicine 5: 191-209, 2013
  • (2012) Transplantation of platelet gel spiked with cardiosphere-derived cells boosts structural and functional benefits relative to gel transplantation alone in rats with myocardial infarctionCheng K, Shen D, Smith J, Galang G, Sun B, Zhang J, Marbán E | 33:2872-9, 2012
  • (2012) Intramyocardial injection of platelet gel promotes endogenous repair and augments cardiac function in rats with myocardial infarctionCheng K, Malliaras K, Shen D, Smith J, Houde C, Galang G, Sun B, Marbán E | Journal of the American College Cardiology 59:245-53, 2012
  • (2012) Three Dimensional Neuronal Cell Cultures More Accurately Model Voltage Gated Calcium Channel Functionality in Freshly Dissected Nerve TissueLai Y, Cheng K (co-first author), Kisaalita WS | Plos One 7:e45074, 2012
  • (2012) Direct comparison of different stem cell types and subpopulations reveals superior paracrine potency and myocardial repair efficacy with cardiosphere-derived cellsLi 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 | Journal of the American College Cardiology 59:942-53, 2012
  • (2012) Mechanism of extravasation of infused regenerative cells from microvessels into tissue parenchymaCheng K, Shen D, Xie Y, Cingolani E, Malliaras K, Marbán E | Stem Cells 30:2835-42, 2012
  • (2012) Dose-dependent functional benefit of human cardiosphere transplantation in mice with acute myocardial infarctionShen D, Cheng K (co-corresponding author), Marbán E | Journal of Cellular and Molecular Medicine 16:2112-6, 2012
  • (2012) Functional performance of human cardiosphere-derived cells delivered in an in situ polymerizable hyaluronan-gelatin hydrogelCheng K, Blusztajn A, Shen D, Li TS, Sun B, Galang G, Zarembinski TI, Prestwich GD, Marbán E, Smith RR, Marbán L | Biomaterials 33:5317-24, 2012
  • (2012) Intracoronary cardiosphere-derived cells for heart regeneration after myocardial infarction (CADUCEUS): a prospective, randomised phase 1 trialMakkar 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 | Lancet 379:895-904, 2012
  • (2011) Safety and efficacy of allogeneic cell therapy in infarcted rats transplanted with mismatchedMalliaras K, Li TS, Luthringer D, Terrovitis J, Cheng K, Chakravarty T, Galang G, Zhang Y, Schoenhoff F, Van Eyk J, Marbán L, Marbán E | Circulation 125:100-12, 2011
  • (2011) Neural Cell 3D Microtissue Formation Is Marked by Cytokines’ Up-RegulationLai Y, Asthana A, Cheng K, Kisaalita WS | PLoS One 6: e26821, 2011
  • (2011) The amelioration of cardiac dysfunction after myocardial infarction by the injection of keratin biomaterials derived from human hairShen D, Wang X, Zhang L, Zhao X, Li J, Cheng K (co-corresponding author), Zhang J | Biomaterials 32:9290-9299, 2011
  • The CADUCEUS (CArdiosphere-Derived aUtologous Stem CElls to Reverse ventricUlar dySfunction) TrialMakkar 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. | Circulation 124: 2365-2374 | 2011
  • (2010) Dedifferentiation and Proliferation of Mammalian CardiomyocytesZhang Y, Li T-S, Lee S-T, Wawrowsky K, Cheng K, Malliaras K, Galang G, Abraham R, Marban E | PLos One 3;5(9):e12559, 2010
  • (2010) Exploring cellular adhesion and differentiation in a micro-/nano-hybrid polymer scaffoldCheng K, Kisaalita WS | Biotechnology Progress 26:838-46, 2010
  • (2010) Magnetic targeting enhances engraftment and functional benefit of iron-labeled cardiosphere-derived cells in myocardial infarctionCheng K, Li T-S, Malliaras K, Davis D, Zhang Y, Marbán E | Circulation Research 106:1570-81, 2010
  • (2010) Cardiospheres recapitulate a niche-like microenvironment rich in stemness and cell-matrix interactions, rationalizing their enhanced functional potency for myocardial repairLi T-S, Cheng K (co-first author), Lee S-T, Matsushita S, Davis D, Malliaras K, Zhang Y, Matsushita N, Smith RR, Marbán E | Stem Cells 28:2088-98, 2010
  • (2010) Expansion of human cardiac stem cells in physiological low oxygen improves cell production efficiency and potency for myocardial repairLi T-S, Cheng K, Malliaras K, Matsushita N, Zhang Y, Marbán E | Cardiovascular Research 89:157-65, 2010
  • Heart to heart: Elusive mechanism of cell therapyMarban E, Cheng K. | Circulation 121:1981-4 | 2010
  • (2009) Validation of the cardiosphere method to culture cardiac progenitor cells from myocardial tissueDavis D, Zhang Y, Smith RR, Cheng K, Terrovitis J, Malliaras K, Li T, White A, Makkar R, Marbán E | PLoS One 4:e7195, 2009
  • (2008) Three dimensional scaffolds for high throughput cell-based assay systemsCheng K, Lai Y, Kisaalita WS | Biomaterials 29:2802-2812, 2008
  • Taking Cell Culture in Drug Discovery to the Third Dimension-A Patent ReviewLai Y, Wang L, Cheng K, Kisaalita WS | Recent Patents on Biomedical Engineering Vol. 1, No.2 | 2008
  • ENStem-A human neural progenitors cultured in 3D polystyrene scaffolds for high physiological relevanceCheng K, Lai Y, Kisaalita WS | Cellutions 3:4-6 | 2008
  • (2003) Application potentials of on-line near infrared spectroscopy technology in manufacturing of traditional chinese medicineHu G-G, Lu X-Y, Cheng K, Liu D-Q | China Journal of Chinese Materia Medica 28:1117-1119, 2003