Adam R. Wende, Ph.D.

Principal Investigator

Adam R. Wende, Ph.D., is an Associate Professor in the Division of Molecular and Cellular Pathology of the Department of Pathology at UAB. He is a graduate of Knox College, Galesburg, IL (BA in Biology and Biochemistry with Honors 2000) and a PhD from Washington University in St. Louis, MO (Molecular and Cellular Biology 2006). He then completed postdoctoral training at the University of Utah and moved to UAB in 2013.

Since establishing his independent research laboratory, work from the group has focused on understanding the molecular mechanisms of cardiac health and disease. This is accomplished using mouse models of heart failure, diabetes, and genetic manipulations. The work has also expanded into multi-omics analysis of human cardiac biopsies with a focus on epigenetic mechanisms of gene expression.

He spends his free time running (focused on marathons) or with his wife and two teen daughters hiking, spending time at the beach or lake, eating sushi or Indian food, and just enjoying life. (Twitter @AdamWende)

Zhihuan “Sunny” Sun

Lab Manager

Zhihuan “Sunny” Sun, B.S., is the lab manager who has over 18 years of experience, who has been working with Dr. Wende since 2017. She has a wide range of molecular and cellular biology techniques and oversees the day-to-day operations of the laboratory.

Chae-Myeong “Jenna” Ha, Ph.D.

Postdoctoral Fellow

Chae-Myeong “Jenna” Ha, Ph.D., is an American Heart Association (AHA) funded postdoctoral fellow. She received her Ph.D. from Kyungpook National University in South Korea and moved to Alabama to pursue cardiovascular research with Dr. Wende in 2017.

Her research interest is metabolism in heart failure. She has studied the role of pyruvate dehydrogenase kinase (PDK) from her thesis project and now focuses on PDK regulation of post-translational modifications specifically in the heart.

Her favorite work in the lab is deciding a mouse’s destiny (who will be matched, who will be survived more, or who will be retired). She occasionally has a nightmare that someone published the discovery of a PDK5 isozyme in the human heart.

After work hours, the easiest way to find her is at the gym converting her energy stores to CO2 and H2O. (Twitter @CardioMyocyteHa).

Samuel F. Chang

MSTP Student

Samuel F. Chang is the most recent addition to the laboratory starting in 2021; he is originally from San Diego, CA, and received his undergraduate education from Washington University in St. Louis, MO, where he discovered his passion for combining both science and medicine. After working at a food-access non-profit, St. Louis Metro Market, as a nutrition education consultant, he joined the UAB Medical Scientist Training Program in 2019.

Since joining the lab, his main research involves investigating the effects of diabetes in cardiac physiology and pathophysiology. From using a multi-omics approach to identify key changes in the transcriptome and epigenome, to developing a new mouse model to investigate the role/regulation of key genes in diabetic hearts, Samuel hopes that his work will provide a fundamental molecular understanding to inform future translational work in the field of diabetes and cardiovascular diseases. 

Some of his hobbies include making/listening to music (favorites include classical and jazz), cooking up a storm on the weekends, and watching soccer games. (Twitter @SamuelFChang)

Luke A. Potter

Graduate Student

Luke A, Potter, B.S., is our senior graduate student having joined the laboratory in 2018 and has excelled in his own NIH F31 funded research as well as supporting his more junior colleagues with a specific focus on the role of the transcription factor EGR2 in the regulation of gene expression in the heart in response to diabetes. (Twitter @LukeSkyrunner)

Sayan Bakshi, M.S.

Graduate Student

Sayan Bakshi, M.S., has focused on combining his passion for the application of our research to the problems we dissect in the laboratory. He is most focused on combined methylomics and transcriptomics data analysis and has specifically expanded our group’s mechanistic studies of the epigenetic regulation via EZH2 histone methyltransferase in ischemia and heart failure. (Twitter @SayanBakshi)


Laboratory Managers/Technicians:

  • Mark A. McCrory, B.S., 2013-16, he helped establish the laboratory.

Postdoctoral Fellows:

  • Manoja K. Brahma, Ph.D., 2014-19, AHA Fellowship recipient and SHVM “William C. Stanley” Early Investigator recipient (among several other awards). He published 10 PubMed indexed articles with Dr. Wende during his tenure and established our interest in ketone body metabolism. Currently (Dec. 2021) he is Senior Study Director at Sygnature Discovery, Nottingham, England. (Twitter @brahma_manoja)

MSTP Students:

  • Mark E. Pepin, M.D./Ph.D., 2014-19, NIH F30 recipient and UAB Samuel B. Barker Award for Excellence in Graduate Studies recipient (among several other awards). He published 18 PubMed indexed articles (and counting) with Dr. Wende during his tenure and established the bioinformatics pipelines now used by the current trainees. Between 2020-2022, he was a Humboldt Postdoctoral Fellow recipient at the Universitätsklinikum Heidelberg, Germany, in the laboratory of Dr. Johannes Backs. And currently (as of 2022) he is a resident physician in internal medicine at the Brigham and Women’s Hospital. (Twitter @MarkEPepin)

Undergraduate Students:

  • Brenna G. Bentley (Nye), 2013-17, was one of the first in the laboratory (with Lamario) and recipient of a Fulbright Scholarship.
  • Lamario J. Williams, 2013-17, was one of the first in the laboratory (with Brenna) and recipient of an NIH R25 award.
  • Thomas J. Bailey, 2014-15, Summer in Biomedical Sciences (SIBS) & Preparation in Graduate and Medical (PARAdiGM) Education Undergraduate Research Program recipient.
  • James C. Davis, 2016-20, SciTech Honors student.
  • Yulianna A. Jiménez, 2017-18, research project and Honors College Presidential Summer Fellowship recipient.
  • Anaissa Medina, 2018-19, SIBS & PARAdiGM recipient.
  • Sameen Y. Ali, 2018-19, SciTech Honors student.
  • Taylor Billngsley, 2021, Summer Undergraduate Research Experience in Genomic Medicine (SURE-GM) recipient.
  • Divya Annamalai, 2019-2022, SciTech Honors student. Her project in the lab focused on understanding the role of the GABA shunt, a process that works to produce and conserve the supply of GABA, in the progression of diabetic cardiomyopathy.

High School Students:

  • Snekha Rajasekaran, summers of 2018 and 2019. First HS student in the laboratory and really set a high bar.
  • Srijan Meesala, 2021-2022, HS student who spent his winter break in the laboratory to gain an introduction to “big data” analysis and identify epigenetic pathways in the regulation of gene expression in diabetes and heart failure.
  • Sam Curfman, summer 2022, HS student who had his first experience in biomedical research at the Wende Lab; from learning techniques, to helping with data analysis, Sam not only learned a lot from his summer but also contributed to the lab’s research as well.
  • Shrijith Balasundararajan, 2021-2022, began as a high school student who worked in the laboratory in the summer of 2021 to complete his senior research capstone project focused on the regulation of chitinases in diabetes and heart failure. He has since started at the UAB Honors College (2022). (Twitter @shrijithbala)