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School of Medicine Columbia

Faculty and Staff

Mohamad Azhar, Ph.D.

Title: Associate Professor of Cell Biology & Anatomy
Department: Cell Biology & Anatomy
School of Medicine Columbia
Phone: 803-216-3831

Cell Biology & Anatomy
Basic Science Bldg 4


Academic Appointments

Research Assistant Professor, BIO5 Institute, University of Arizona, Tucson, Arizona 
Assistant Research Professor, Indiana University School of Medicine, Indianapolis, Indiana 

Postdoctoral Training

University of Cincinnati College of Medicine, Ohio


B.S. Biochemistry (Hons) (1989): Aligarh Muslim University, Aligarh, India
M.S. Biotechnology (1991): Aligarh Muslim University, Aligarh, India
Ph.D. (1997): Developmental Biology & Genetics, 
Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore, India 

Research Focus

My research focus is on gaining an understanding of the unique and redundant biological function and properties of the three transforming growth factor beta (TGFβ) ligands and their signaling mechanisms in cardiovascular development and homeostasis and in disease pathogenesis. Our laboratory uses molecular, biochemical, physiological, pharmacologic (small molecule inhibitors), cell and tissue culture, and combined optical and biomechanical engineering approaches to analyze cell/tissue/organ-specific conditional/inducible gene knockout and transgenic mouse models. Our research is currently funded, in parts, from the National, Health, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) (R01HL126705).

Cardiovascular disease is the number one cause of death and morbidity in the United States. As a result of improved medical and surgical management of congenital cardiovascular malformations, about 90% of children born with congenital heart diseases now live into neonatal, postnatal and adult stages of life. Genetic mutations/dysregulation affecting Transforming Growth Factor beta (TGFβ) ligands signaling is found in several neonatal, pediatric, and adult patients with cardiovascular complications, including valvular heart disease, cardiomyopathy, cardiac fibrosis, and arterial aneurysms. TGFβ family consists of three multifunctional ligand proteins (TGFβ 1, 2, 3). Our overall objective is to determine the mechanisms by which TGFβ ligands regulate cardiovascular development and maintain the cardiovascular structure and function at neonatal, postnatal and adult stages. The long term goal also includes an investigation into the role of the three TGFβ ligands in the susceptibility, onset, and progression of adult cardiovascular diseases. A striking number of cardiovascular defects of humans are modeled in mice with mutation(s) in one or more genes encoding TGFβ ligands. Thus, delineating TGF ligands signaling networks involved in specific aspects of cardiovascular development and cardiovascular structure and function during the aging process should inform novel therapeutic approaches with higher specificity and more limited side effects.

Ongoing Projects Include

Project 1: Analysis of TGFbeta ligands function in development and pathogenesis of calcific aortic valve disease (CAVD)

The overall goal is to determine the role and the underlying regulatory mechanisms of TGFβ ligands in vivo in development and pathogenesis of calcific aortic valve disease (CAVD). (Funded by R01HL126705)

Project 2: Role of TGF-beta2 in Congenital Heart Disease (CHD)

The overall goal is to determine the cell-specific role of TGF-beta2 and its downstream mechanisms in development of congenital heart defects and adult aortic and mitral valve disease.

Project 3: Role of TGFbeta Ligand Function in the Development and Pathogenesis of Thoracic Aortic Aneurysms and Dissection (TAAD)

The major goals of this project are to define cell type specific function and mechanisms of TGF-beta2 in development and progression of thoracic aortic aneurysm and dissection.


MCBA D602: Medical Microscopic Anatomy (Medical Student Teaching)

BMSC 708/702: Human Cell and Molecular Biology I

MCBA743-001: Molecular Imaging Methods in Biomedical Research II (Graduate Student Teaching)

Anatomy and Physiology for Biomedical Engineers or Human Cell and Molecular Biology (Undergraduate Teaching)

Grant Study Section

American Heart Association, Cardiovascular Development Basic Science (CVD BSc) Grant Review Committee


Challenge the conventional. Create the exceptional. No Limits.