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Sassi Lab

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Led by principal investigator Yassine Sassi, Ph.D., the Sassi Laboratory focuses on studying the role of non-coding RNAs, coding RNAs and cyclic nucleotides pathways in cardiac health and disease, pulmonary arterial hypertension and pulmonary fibrosis. Using multiple approaches involving cell biology and animal models of cardiovascular and pulmonary diseases, the Sassi Lab aims to identify novel therapeutic strategies for cardiovascular and pulmonary diseases.

The lab's research areas include:

Pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH), a group of Pulmonary Hypertension (PH), is a rare disease that is usually progressive, leading to right heart failure and ultimately death. Despite recent advances in the management of patients with PAH, this disease remains a devastating condition with limited survival. While the current therapies primarily target pulmonary vasoconstriction, there is currently no cure for PAH, and the available classes of drugs only modestly affect pulmonary vascular remodeling. The Sassi lab focuses on understanding the pathogenesis of PAH and identifying new therapeutic approaches to advance drug development and to improve patient care. The Sassi lab is applying its expertise in coding and non-coding RNAs to investigate their therapeutic roles in PAH. 

Idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF) is a devastating fibrotic lung disease of unknown etiology and limited therapeutic options. In the last decade, approved therapies for the treatment of idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis have improved exercise capacity and quality of life. However, there is currently no cure available for idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis, and new therapies are desperately needed. The Sassi lab aims to contribute for a better understanding of the pathogenesis of IPF and to develop new therapeutic strategies to treat pulmonary fibrosis. 

Cardiovascular disease remains the No. 1 cause of death in the US. Myocardial remodeling occurs in response to acute or chronic injuries of the cardiac muscle, e.g., due to aortic valve stenosis or ischemic injury. This process, which may turn into functional deterioration, is characterized by cardiac hypertrophy and fibrosis. The Sassi lab aims to identify new drug targets, to define their role/function and to develop new therapeutic strategies. 

Meet the Lab



  • Shara Bano Mahmoodi, Microbiology,  Department of Biological Sciences, College of Science, Virginia Tech '23