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Research Team

Physician Leadership 

Sanjeet Hegde, M.D., Ph.D. – Director, Heart Institute Research

Dr. Hegde’s research interests include in-vitro measurement of the safety of devices for interventional MRI, development of catheters and in-vitro testing of their suitability for interventional MRI, device implantation under XMR, catheter tracking under MRI, image guidance of cardiac interventions, 3-D printing, virtual reality and computational modeling of complex congenital heart disease.


Hari Narayan, M.D., MSCEAssociate Director, Heart Institute Research

Dr. Narayan’s clinical specialization is in echocardiography and cardiac MRI, and he has recognized expertise in advanced echocardiographic assessments of cardiac function, including myocardial strain. Dr. Narayan’s research interests are in the area of cardio-oncology: the cardiovascular care of cancer patients. Specifically, he seeks to improve the early detection and prevention of anthracycline-related heart failure using novel cardiovascular imaging techniques. He has engaged in clinical research studies that have helped to define the natural history of cancer therapy cardiotoxicities and identify predictors of disease in both pediatric and adult populations. 

Administrative Leadership

Director, Heart Institute Data Analytics and Research Program

Mark Abcede, M.B.A., CCRP

Mark has rejoined the Heart Institute after serving as Clinical Site Manager of Global Research Operations at PAREXEL. During his tenure at the Heart Institute from 2012 to 2016, Mark played a key role in the Heart Institute Research Committee, which he helped establish to ensure that the appropriate infrastructure existed to support the research endeavors of faculty, staff, external sponsors and donors. Additionally, he was instrumental in fostering collaborations between the Heart Institute and the UC San Diego Cardiac Mechanics Group, the Pediatric Heart Transplant Study, the Congenital Heart Surgeons’ Society and the Pediatric Heart Network. Mark earned his Bachelor of Arts in biology and chemistry at the University of San Diego and his Master of Business Administration (with an emphasis in healthcare management) at the University of Phoenix. Mark is a Certified Clinical Research Professional (CCRP® SOCRA) and has also completed a professional certificate in Clinical Trials and Management through UC San Diego. For any inquiries about our research program, please contact

Director, 3D Innovations Lab (3DI Lab); Research Scientist

Justin Ryan, Ph.D.

Justin is bringing the art of 3D anatomical modeling — a highly technical and rapidly evolving field that holds incredible potential for transforming care — to Rady Children’s. A computer imaging and animation master-turned-biomedical engineer, Dr. Ryan joins us as director of the new 3D Innovations Lab (3DI Lab). The first of its kind in Southern California, the 3DI Lab will create 3D models and prints based on medical images, such as CT scans and MRIs, to support precise surgical planning and improve outcomes specifically for pediatric patients. In addition, the lab will train current and future physicians and scientists, develop educational resources for patients and families, and fuel further innovation in the 3D modeling space. An accomplished leader in his field, Dr. Ryan previously ran the Cardiac 3D Print Lab at Phoenix Children’s Hospital, where he created more than 500 unique cardiac models. The 3DI Lab and its services are a hospital-wide initiative — the lab’s unique interdisciplinary structure will open the benefits of 3D modeling to patients facing everything from spinal conditions to neurological disease to plastic surgery. For inquiries, please contact

Research Support Team

Maria AcueroMaria Acuero, M.A.S., CCRP, Clinical Research Coordinator
858-576-1700, ext. 227139


Xiaoyang Yu, M.D., M.S., Clinical Research Coordinator
858-576-1700, ext. 22100



Edgar Alfaro, M.D, M.P.H., Clinical Research Coordinator
858-576-1700, ext. 223468



Jessica Hargitt, B.S., Clinical Research Coordinator
858-576-1700, ext. 223457



Fernando Ramirez, Research Associate I
858-576-1700, ext. 221001



Heart Institute Research Committee

Brian Allison, FACHE

Christopher Davis, M.D., Ph.D.

Peter Chau, M.D.

Jessica Haley, M.D.

Hari Narayan, M.D.

James Perry, M.D.

Eleanor Lehnert Schuchardt, M.D.

David Werho, M.D.

Matthew Williams, M.D.