Chan Lab


Sunny Chan

Welcome to the Chan lab! Congenital heart defects and muscular dystrophies are common hereditary diseases affecting children, but effective treatments for most of these disorders are scarce. In our lab, we are working on deciphering the molecular regulation of how these diseases develop and establishing stem cell-based therapies to combat them.

Sunny Chan, PhD faculty bio

Current Lab Projects

Heart Project:

figure 1

To understand the role of the transcription factor Mesp1 in cardiac and skeletal myogenic development. Mesp1 was once thought as a master regulator of cardiovascular specification. But our previous work revealed a much more broader role, in which Mesp1 promotes hematopoietic, cardiac and skeletal myogenic differentiation in a context dependent manner. We are currently studying how Mesp1 regulates cardiac and skeletal myogenic development and its role in congenital heart defects and muscular dystrophies.

Skeletal Muscle Project:

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To develop novel strategies for producing adult stem cells from pluripotent stem cells. Adult stem cells are endogenous, multipotent stem cells with unparalleled potency in regenerating tissues they normally reside. Muscle stem cells are such example. We have recently developed a method to produce muscle stem cells from pluripotent stem cells with exceptional regenerative capacity. We are currently expanding our method to model and to treat muscular dystrophies.

Selected Publications

Full list of publications at Experts@Minnesota 

  1. Penaloza JS, Pappas MP, Hagen HR, Xie N, and Chan SS. (2019) Single-cell RNA-seq analysis of Mesp1-induced skeletal myogenic development. Biochem Biophys Res Commun, 520: 284-290.
  2. Steimle JD, Rankin SA, Slagle CE, Bekeny J, Rydeen AB, Chan SS, Kweon J, Yang XH, Ikegami K, Nadadur RD, Rowton M, Hoffmann AD, Lazarevic S, Horb ME, Kyba M, Jensen AM, Conlon FL, and Moskowitz IP. (2018) An evolutionary conserved Tbx5-Wnt2/2b pathway orchestrates cardiopulmonary development. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A, 115(45): E10615-E10624.
  3. Chan SS, Arpke RW, Filareto A, Xie N, Pappas MP, Penaloza JS, Perlingeiro RCR, and Kyba M. (2018). Skeletal muscle stem cells from PSC-derived teratomas have functional regenerative capacity. Cell Stem Cell, 23(1): 74-85.
  4. Le G, Novotny SA, Greising SM, Mader TL, Chan SS, Kyba M, Lowe DA, and Warren GL. (2018). A moderate estradiol level enhances neutrophil number and activity in muscle after traumatic injury but strength recovery is accelerated. J Physiol, 596(19): 4665-4680.
  5. Bosnakovski D, Chan SS, Recht O, Hartweck L, Gustafson C, Athman L, Lowe D, and Kyba M. (2017). Muscle pathology from stochastic low level DUX4 level expression in an FSHD mouse model. Nat Comm, 8(1): 550.
  6. Kim J, Magli A, Chan SS, Oliveira VK, Wu J, Darabi R, Kyba M, and Perlingeiro RC. (2017). Expansion and purification are critical for the therapeutic application of pluripotent stem cell-derived myogenic progenitors. Stem Cell Reports, 9(1): 12-22.
  7. Chan SS, Chan HH, and Kyba M. (2016). Heterogeneity of Mesp1+ mesoderm revealed by single-cell RNA-seq. Biochem Biophys Res Commun, 474(3): 469-475.
  8. Chan SS, Hagen HR, Swanson SA, Stewart R, Boll KA, Aho J, Thomson JA, and Kyba M. (2016). Development of bipotent cardiac / skeletal myogenic progenitors from MESP1+ mesoderm. Stem Cell Reports, 6(1): 26-34.
  9. Bedada FB, Chan SS, Metzger SK, Zhang L, Zhang J, Garry DJ, Kamp TJ, Kyba M, and Metzger JM. (2014). Acquisition of a quantitative, stoichiometrically conserved ratiometric marker of maturation status in stem-cell derived cardiac myocytes. Stem Cell Reports, 3(4): 594-605.
  10. Chan SS, Shi X, Toyama A, Arpke RW, Dandapat A, Iacovino M, Kang J, Le G, Hagen HR, Garry DJ, and Kyba M. (2013). Mesp1 patterns mesoderm into cardiac, hematopoietic, or skeletal myogenic progenitors in a context-dependent manner. Cell Stem Cell, 12(5): 587-601.

Full list of publications at Experts@Minnesota

Lab Members
lab group


Sunny Chan, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor

B.Sc. in Pharmacology, University of British Columbia, Canada
B.A.Sc. in Computer Engineering, University of British Columbia, Canada
Ph.D. in Pharmacology, Chinese University of Hong Kong, Hong KongSunny is a native of Hong Kong, and has toured around the world to complete his trainings on natural product chemistry, cardiovascular pharmacology, and stem cell biology. Recently, he focuses on developing regenerative medicine to treat congenital heart defects and muscular dystrophies.


Ning Xie, Ph.D.
Postdoctoral Associate

Education: Ph.D. in Molecular Medicine, Peking University, China

Research interest: Generating muscle stem cells from pluripotent stem cells to advance stem cell therapy for muscular dystrophy


Sabrina Chu

Sabrina (she/her/hers) graduated in neuroscience with a minor in computer science and was looking to pursue a medical degree. She is from Shoreview, MN. Most people would describe her as energetic and enthusiastic on any given day. Some fun facts about her is that she once chipped one of her front teeth about seven times when she was young, and she loves playing Animal Crossing.


Matthew Pappas
Undergraduate Researcher

Matt was born and grew up in the north metro of the Twin Cities. He is a graduating senior studying Biology at the University of Minnesota. Matt has previously worked on developing approaches to derive striated muscle from pluripotent stem cells. He is interested in using single-cell RNA-seq and other powerful methods to study stem cell and developmental biology.

In his free time, Matt likes to cook and play board games. He also enjoys watching professional soccer and following the Minnesota Vikings.


Lindsay Peifer
Undergraduate Researcher

Lindsay is an undergraduate student at the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities, studying Genetics, Cell Biology, and Development. She started working for Dr. Chan her first year at the university with an interest in researching genetic diseases since she was born with a rare metabolic bone condition, called X-Linked Hypophosphatemia. She helps out with multiple projects in the lab, including the human teratoma and cardiomyocyte differentiation investigations.

Lindsay hopes to obtain her Master’s in Science and become a genetic counselor after graduation.

Former Members


Christine Rohlf, B.A.
Lab Manager

Education: B.A. in Biology, University of St. Thomas, MN

Christine was born and raised in Davenport, IA. She graduated from the University of St. Thomas with a B.A. in Biology, a minor in Spanish, and she also enjoyed being a track and field student-athlete. She will be attending vet school this fall at Iowa State University. In her free time, she likes to workout and go running and spend time with friends and family.

Contact Info


(612) 625-3848

(612) 626-4074

Office Address:
4-240 B75 Cancer & Cardiovascular Research Building