Kathleen Broughton

Kathleen Broughton, Ph.D., J.D., is classically trained in engineering and law. Kathleen is currently studying the ploidy content of progenitor cells from numerous species and tissue types. She is using various techniques to assess the ploidy state of somatic cells in vivo as it is influenced by cell-autonomous signals and environmental cues. During her PhD, Kathleen manufactured Biological Microelectromechanical System (BioMEMS) devices to control the cellular microenvironment and analyze the structure-function relationship of cardiomyocytes in 4D. She has experience with primary cardiomyocyte culture, cardiomyocyte-derived stem cells, and various stem cells.

Dr. Broughton earned her Ph.D. from the University of Illinois at Chicago (2014) in Bioengineering with her research conducted in the Department of Physiology & Biophysics. She earned her J.D. from Case Western Reserve University with a Certificate in Law and Technology (2009) and her B.S. in Industrial Engineering with a minor in Mathematics from Northern Illinois University (2004). Dr. Broughton is a Department of State Fulbright Scholar Alumni (2005-2006) and has an active bar membership for the State of Illinois.


Carolina Esquer

My name is Carolina Esquer and I am an undergrad working as a research assistant. I am in charge of Dr. Sussman’s mouse colony, primary cell culture, and coordinating the volunteer program we have in the laboratory. I am interested in learning new techniques and helping the graduate students in the lab with their ongoing projects. It’s an exciting time to be in science and I look forward to being part of Dr. Sussman’s team.

Fareheh Firouzi

I graduated with Masters in Cell and Developmental Biology in 2012. I joined Dr. Sussman’s Laboratory as a volunteer starting in May 2014. I am planning to start my PhD in the fall of 2015. I am so grateful to have the opportunity to work in this lab with amazing projects and wonderful people. The knowledge and experience I am gaining in the lab will help me better understand this exciting field of study and choose the best direction toward continuing my education.

Natalie Gude

Natalie Gude is an assistant research professor/lab manager in the Sussman group. Her current research investigates cardiac c-Kit cell biology using transgenic reporter mouse models.

Dieter Kubli

As an undergraduate student in the lab of Dr. Roberta Gottlieb, I studied the pro-apoptotic Bcl-2 family protein Bnip3 and its contribution to cardiac ischemic injury. After finishing my B.S. from UCSD in 2006, I stayed in San Diego and joined Dr. Åsa Gustafsson’s lab in 2010 for my graduate studies. I completed my Ph.D. in Biomedical Science at the end of 2013. My project investigated mechanisms of mitochondrial damage control involving mitochondrial autophagy through Parkin and PINK1 in cardiomyocytes. I joined Dr. Mark Sussman’s lab in April 2015 because of his promise that if I cure heart disease, all of my wildest dreams will come true. I intend to apply my experience in mitochondrial function and cardiac research techniques to restoring cardiac function in the face of acute and chronic stress.

When I’m not in lab, I’m usually enjoying one of several typical San Diegan hobbies – rock climbing, beer brewing, and surfing would be the top three. I also like to restore vintage bicycles, and I even ride them once in a while. Whenever I can squeeze a day or two off, I’ll usually go backpacking in the nearby mountains. And this is why I hope to stay in San Diego a while longer.

That’s all for now. Ask me again when my project is up and running!

Nidiane C. Martinelli

I have a background in molecular biology, genetics, cardiology, microRNAs, physiology and blood donor bank from my previous labs in Brazil where I got my Bachelors, Masters and PhD degrees.

In 2014, I was selected for a 1-year internship as fellow researcher for the Heart Failure Department Unit of GlaxoSmithKlein located in Philadelphia. During this time, I had the opportunity to experience the industry side of the research and gather more knowledge and experience for my professional life. It was also in 2014 that I crossed paths with Dr. Sussman during the AHA Sessions and after some time he finally hired me, and I received the title of having the longest hiring process in his entire career. Took me 3 years to finally start in the lab after some long VISA process and a broken leg healing.

Since 2017 I am a post-doc in Dr. Sussman’s lab involved in unravel the potential of the interstitial cell population to repair the damaged myocardium. Keep tuned for the next chapter in this story.

Aside that I believe I am a funny person, prompt to help others and I know that I still have so much to learn. To help me with that, I am surrounded by wonderful colleagues who are helping me to thrive in science and guided (or not) by an outstanding supervisor.

Megan Monsanto

Hi y’all my name is Megan, and I am originally from South Carolina, if you could not tell from my southern accent! I went to Clemson University where I received my undergraduate degree in genetics. Since my interest is in regenerative medicine, I moved to San Diego having heard biotech is a hot field out here. I just recently joined Dr. Sussman’s lab and am very excited to be a part of this great group of scientists. I am pursuing a Master’s degree and cannot wait to learn everything I can about the heart and cardiac stem cells!

Natalia Navarro

Hello everyone, I graduated with a Bachelor of Liberal Arts and Sciences from SDSU in May 2005. Currently, I am Dr. Sussman’s Program Coordinator. I oversee all laboratory administrative functions, NIH grant related submissions, manage the lab budget including reconciling accounts, financial transactions and serve as one of two points of contact for postdoctoral fellows, graduate and undergraduate students. I am so thankful and excited to be part of this lab and most importantly, to share the passion for science with this fascinating team. Happy research!

Jessica Wang

I joined the Sussman lab at the end of 2014 as a doctoral student with the idea to extend my knowledge in cardiovascular research. My current research projects focus on cardiac progenitor cell function in a senescence-accelerated mouse model, and characterization of potential stem cell population at the atrial-ventricular valve regions. The goal of these studies is to enhance the current understanding of heart and/or valve repair during aging or upon injury.

I came to SDSU with a background of biochemical engineering and developmental biology. I received my MSc in biochemical engineering at TU Delft in the Netherlands, where I studied yeast genomics. Inspired by my growing interests in molecular and cell biology, I moved on to pursue an MS in Biological Sciences at Cal State L.A., where I worked in the Nissen lab to study the role of wdr68 in zebrafish craniofacial development and in mouse myoblast myogenesis.