Research Team

Director, Heart Institute Data Analytics and Research Program

Mark Abcede, M.B.A., CCRP

Mark has rejoined the Heart Institute after serving as a a 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. He is currently completing a professional certificate program through UC San Diego in clinical trials design and management. 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

Physician Leadership – Co-Directors, Heart Institute Research:

Sanjeet Hegde, M.D., Ph.D.

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.


Kanishka Ratnayaka, M.D.

Dr. Ratnayaka’s research includes diagnostic MRI, MRI catheterization, X-Ray fused with MRI (XFM,) MRI-guided intervention and MRI device innovation.

Clinical Research Coordinators

Danica Griffin, M.S.

Danica is responsible for supporting the Heart Institute with our various research endeavors. Prior to joining our team, she was a clinical research project manager and navigator in the Dept. of Critical Care Medicine at Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago and was responsible for multiple sponsored clinical research projects (clinical trials and investigator-initiated studies). Danica earned her Bachelor of Arts in psychology at San Diego State University and her Master of Science in Marriage & Family Therapy, Child Development & Family Studies from Purdue University.

Tiffany-Jan Gelacio, M.H.A., CCRC

Tiffany is responsible for supporting the Heart Institute with our various research endeavors. She joins us from the Interventional Cardiology group at Scripps Clinic, where she was a Research Assistant III and  responsible for multiple industry-sponsored clinical trials. Tiffany earned her Bachelor of Science in health communications from San Diego State University and her Masters in Healthcare Administration and Management from Colorado State University. She is also a certified clinical research coordinator (CCRC) through the Association of Clinical Research Professionals.

Heart Institute Research Committee

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

Paul Grossfeld, M.D.

John W. Moore, M.D., M.P.H.

Rakesh Singh, M.D., M.S.

David Werho, M.D.