Meet the Team

Jason Kovacic, MD, PhD, Principal Investigator

Dr. Jason Kovacic is Professor of Medicine, jointly appointed at Mount Sinai Hospital and the Cardiovascular Research Center of Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai. Dr. Kovacic graduated from the University of Melbourne Medical School in 1994, and then undertook residency and cardiology specialty training at St. Vincent’s Hospital in Sydney, Australia. Becoming a Fellow of the Royal Australasian College of Physicians in 2003, Dr. Kovacic then completed a PhD in cardiovascular medicine investigating regenerative vascular therapies for refractory heart disease at the Victor Chang Cardiac Research Institute. In 2007, he relocated to the United States, and to the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute (NHLBI) at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in Bethesda, Maryland. At the NIH, Dr. Kovacic spent two years working with Dr. Elizabeth Nabel, former Director of the NHLBI, investigating the vascular healing response and the molecular pathways underlying this process. He then moved to the Cardiovascular Research Institute at The Icahn School of Medicine in New York. In parallel with his practice as a clinical interventional cardiologist at Mount Sinai Heart, Dr. Kovacic leads a highly productive and busy research laboratory.

Dr. Kovacic has enjoyed high-level success at both clinical and basic cardiovascular research. He has over 100 scientific publications, with over 50 of these as lead author. He has served as organizing committee and panel member for the NIH/NHLBI Symposium on Cardiovascular Regenerative Medicine, funding reviewer for numerous agencies including the NIH/NHLBI, and serves on the editorial board for several of the world’s leading cardiovascular journals and textbooks.


Valentina d’Escamard, PhD, Associate Scientist and Laboratory Manager

Valentina is a research scientist with significant experience in cellular and molecular biology research.  She joined Kovacic lab in 2013 and she started studying the cellular and molecular basis of Fibromuscular Dysplasia (FMD), a nonatherosclerotic noninflammatory vascular disease. Given its clinical importance and the unique resource offered by the large number of FMD patients seen by Dr. Jeffrey Olin at Mount Sinai, in Dr. Kovacic laboratory Valentina is studying the etiology of this disease by using patient-specific fibroblasts and in vitro/in vivo disease-modeling techniques. Valentina is a very creative, hard working, dedicated scientist  willing to make many important advances  toward the understanding and cure of this disease.


Nirupama Chandel, PhD, Associate Scientist

Dr Chandel is investigating the mechanisms which drive endothelial to mesenchymal transition (End MT) which is a detrimental cell phenotype contributing to atherosclerosis. Her research focuses on signaling pathway involved in the regulation of ZEB2 induced endothelial dysfunction, and therefore End MT.  Dr Chandel has done her PhD in Molecular Nephrology (India) in 2011. In her PhD she has established a crucial role; genetics play in the immunosuppressant dose regime of kidney transplant patients. She Joined Feinstein Institute of Medical Research/Northwel health system NY to get her postdoctoral training where she has explored the Epigenetic mechanism of vitamin D receptor, involved in HIV associated Nephropathy and her focus was to understand and develop the strategies to modulate the progression of HIVAN through the Renin-Angiotensin System. Nirupama has published number of research articles, reviews and book chapters in well-cited journals. Over all she is working to opens up the door to novel therapeutic intervention to manipulate the Atherosclerosis outcome in clinic.


Bhargavi V’ Gangula, MS, Associate Researcher

Bhargavi V’ Gangula is an Associate Researcher in Kovacic Laboratory. She received her Master of Science degree in Microbiology from Long Island University. Her research work includes analyses of murine vascular tissues affected by gene mutations involved in diabetes and atherosclerosis. In details, Bhargavi is specialized in tissue/organ harvest, in frozen and paraffin processing, immunohistochemistry staining, imaging and microscopy. Her duties also involve maintenance and characterization of murine transgenic colonies in Kovacic’s team.


Yang Xu, MBBS MS, Graduate Student

Yang is a current PhD student in biomedical sciences at Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai. Yang Xu focuses on cardiovascular diseases based on mouse and pig models. He is especially interested in the role of endothelial-to-mesenchymal transition (EndMT) in adult endothelial cells. His research is aiming at dissecting the biological process of EndMT in atherosclerosis as well as its relationship with endothelial regeneration, which is important in preventing and treating vascular diseases. Yang Xu received his Medical Degree from Capital Medical University (China) in 2016 and Master of Science degree from Mount Sinai in 2018.