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Zhaokang Cheng Lab WSU Cardiovascular Research Laboratory



Zhaokang Cheng
, Ph.D.
Principal Investigator
Assistant Professor
Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences
Washington State University
412 East Spokane Falls Blvd.
Spokane, WA  99202-2131
(509) 358-7741

Zhaokang (ZK) is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences at Washington State University. ZK received his Ph.D. degree in Biochemistry & Molecular Biology from Nankai University, China. He then moved to the United States for his postdoctoral training at San Diego State University and The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. ZK was promoted to Research Assistant Professor at The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill before he relocated to Washington State University in 2016 as an Assistant Professor. ZK established the WSU Cardiovascular Research Laboratory to study the regulation of cell death in the heart with the ultimate goal of developing new treatments for heart disease.

Nonscientific Interests: Outdoor activities including exploring the beautiful Inland Northwest, hiking, skiing.


Jingrui Chen
, Ph.D.
Postdoctoral Research Associate (2018 – present)

  • Young Investigator Award recipient, The Third Asian Cardiovascular Symposium at the BCVS Scientific Sessions, American Heart Association, 2021

Dr. Jingrui Chen joined Washington State University in September 2018. His research interests have primarily revolved around the heart. During his Ph.D. training, Jingrui had developed skills in myocardial infarction, ischemia-reperfusion, TAC model preparation and echocardiography. His current research focuses on the cardiotoxicity of the chemotherapy drug doxorubicin and the role of RBL2 in ischemia-reperfusion injury and cardiomyocyte apoptosis.


Sukanya Phungphong
, Ph.D.
Postdoctoral Research Associate (2021 – present)

My name is Sukanya. I graduated with a Ph.D. degree in physiology from Mahidol University, Thailand. Then, I joined Dr. Cheng’s lab in July 2021 as a postdoctoral researcher. My current research focuses on the mechanisms of cardiac dysfunction caused by loss of PKA regulatory subunit 1 alpha.  Researching at Dr. Cheng’s Lab allows me to improve my creativity. I will have a broader perspective on cardiovascular research and will be exposed to a thought-stimulating atmosphere.

In my spare time, I enjoy reading and watching movies.


Megan Constans
, B.Sc.
Research Technologist (2021 – present)

Megan is a Research Technologist 2 with the Cheng lab. She received her Bachelor of Science degree in Biotechnology & Microbiology with a minor Vaccinology from North Dakota State University in 2014. Megan has gained valuable experience working academic, clinical and industry labs over the last 8 years in her home state of Minnesota and is excited to bring her knowledge to Washington State University. Within the lab, Megan is involved with ongoing projects involving researching cardiotoxicity of chemotherapeutic agents as well as the routine maintenance of the lab and the training of new students within the lab.

When not working, Megan loves backpacking and hiking in the mountains with her husband and Siberian Husky, reading, and cooking.



Namrata Bachhav, M. Pharm.
Rotation graduate student (2022)

Namrata is a graduate student performing her rotation research work in Dr. Cheng’s lab. She earned her bachelor’s degree in Pharmacy and Master of Pharmacy with Pharmaceutics as a major. During her master’s she has worked on a research project related to the formulation and development of terbinafine hydrochloride microsponges for topical drug delivery. She received 3 years of research experience as a senior research associate in the department of analytical research and development at the Biocon-Bristol Myers Squibb Research Center (BBRC), Bangalore, India. Her rotation research work focuses on doxorubicin-induced cardiac toxicity.

Apart from research, Namrata loves experimenting in the kitchen.




Peng Xia
, Ph.D.
Postdoctoral Research Associate (2016 – 2020)

  • New Investigator Travel Award recipient, American Heart Association, 2018
  • First Place Award in Oral Presentation, College of Pharmacy Research Day, 2018

I joined Dr. Zhaokang Cheng’ lab in 2016. During this period, I focused on Doxorubicin-induced cardiotoxicity. It was absolutely an amazing experience. I have got several first-author publications, awards, and grant-writing experience. I really appreciate all the advice both in my academic career development and in my life.

Current: Research Fellow, Massachusetts General Hospital, Harvard Medical School


Yuening Liu
, B.S.
Ph.D. student (2016 -2021)

  • Experimental Biology 2020 Travel Award recipient, American Society for Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics (ASPET), 2020
  • The Associated Students of Washington State University Health Sciences (ASWSUHS) Travel Grant recipient, Washington State University, 2020
  • James and Diann Robbers Student Research Fund recipient, 2020

My name is Yuening Liu, I earned my Bachelor of Science degree in Pharmaceutical Sciences at University of Toledo and then joined Dr. Cheng’s lab in 2016 as a PhD student. My research focused on the roles of PRKAR1A in physiological hypertrophy and myocardial ischemia reperfusion injury. My goal is to provide scientific evidence for therapeutic targets and develop more effective treatments to improve therapeutic options for cardiovascular disease. Under Dr. Cheng’s mentorship and support, I am highly motivated and capable of doing research independently but also working in a team. During my training, I have gained more in-depth knowledge of cardiovascular research and am ready to pursue my career in the field.

Outside the lab, I enjoy traveling and hiking with family and friends.

Current: Postdoctoral Fellow, Salk Institute for Biological Studies, San Diego, CA

Mengqi Zhao
, B.S.
Rotation graduate student (2021)

Tobias F Johnston
, B.S.
Rotation graduate student (2020)



Joshua Gallo
, B.S.
Rotation graduate student (2019)

Mehedi Rahman

Rotation graduate student (2017)

Erika Nicole Bautista

PharmD student (2020)


Shayne Fontes

PharmD student (2019)

My name is Shayne Fontes and I joined Dr. Cheng’s lab in 2019 as a PharmD student. My research focused on the role of PKA in congestive heart failure. My academic interests include cardiology and oncology.


Maya Fletcher

Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship (SURF) program student (2019)
Gonzaga University


Shelby Coates

Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship (SURF) program student (2018)
Pacific Lutheran University

Stephanie Dong

Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship (SURF) program student (2017)
University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill