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Human Stem Cell Engineering Lab

Welcome to the Lian Lab at Penn State University!


Our Purpose

The goal of the Lian Lab is to apply stem cell differentiation and genome editing techniques to convert human pluripotent stem cells (hPSCs) into functional somatic cells, aiming to treat or even cure Type 1 diabetes, cardiovascular diseases and autoimmune diseases.


Dr. Xiaojun Lance Lian

University of Wisconsin-Madison (2012)
Chemical and Biological Engineering
Harvard University (2013) 
Stem Cell and Regenerative Biology
Karolinska Institute (2015)
Cell and Molecular Biology

The Nittany Lians

Lauren Randolph

PhD Student

Yuqian Jiang

PhD Student

Lauren Randolph Lauren is a fourth year PhD student focusing on genetically engineering human stem cells and their derivative cell types for therapeutic application. Specifically she is working on developing a universal donor stem cell line as well as engineering hPSC derived cardiomyocytes to improve therapeutic applicability. She is also studing the developmental cues regulating early hematopoietic specification. In her free time, Lauren likes to practice her culinary skills, dance, read, and travel.

Yuqian Jiang Yuqian is a third year PhD student focusing on pancreatic beta cell differentiation. She is using a variety of approaches to obtain efficient yields of human beta cells from hPSCs for diabetes therapy. She is also working on understanding cardiac muscle development by identifying early progenitor markers. In her spare time, Yuqian likes to draw and cook. 

Undergraduate Students

Timothy Habeeb
Michael Aksu
Anika Rimu


PhD Students


Master's Students

Evan Witmer

Tzu Ting Lin

Agamoni Bhattacharyya

Visiting Scholars

Chuanxin Chen

Undergraudate Students

Michael Oddo (16-17 Schreyer Honors College) | Cathy Lu (16-17) | Brandon Kotlyarsky (16-17) | Ramisa Fariha (16-17) | Yian Khai Lau (16-17) | Qi Lin (16-17) | Rachel Lee (17-18) | Tamara Brown (2017 REU)


Cardiac Differentiation

We are implementing a variety of techniques, including small molecule mediated hPSC differentiation and CRISPR-Cas9 reprogramming, to efficiently generate cells of the cardiac lineages for regenerative medicine and therapeutic development.

Recent Publications

Xiaoping Bao, Xiaojun Lian, Tongcheng Qian, Vijesh J. Bhute, Tianxiao Han, Sean P. Palecek. Directed differentiation and long-term maintenance of epicardial cells derived from human pluripotent stem cells under fully defined conditions, Nature Protocols (2017) Sep;12(9):1890-1900. doi: 10.1038/nprot.2017.080.

Jiang, Y. et al. An ultrasensitive calcium reporter system via CRISPR-Cas9 mediated genome editing in human pluripotent stem cells. ISCIENCE 9, 27–35 (2018)

Bao X, Lian X, Hacker TA, Schmuck EG, Qian T, Bhute VJ, Han T, Shi M, Drowley L, Plowright A, Wang QD, Goumans MJ, Palecek SP. Long-term self-renewing human epicardial cells generated from pluripotent stem cells under defined xeno-free conditions, Nature Biomedical Engineering 1, 0003 (2016)

Lian X, Bao X, Zilberter M, et al. “Chemically defined, albumin-free human cardiomyocyte generation”, Nature Methods 12, 595–596 (2015)

Primary Project Contributors
Lauren Randolph
Yuqian Jiang

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Beta Cell Differentiation

Based on beta cell development in the pancreas, our lab is using both directed differentiation and genetic reprogramming techniques to generate functional beta cells from human embryonic stem cells for diabetes therapy.

Recent Publications

Lauren Nicole Randolph, Agamoni Bhattacharyya and Xiaojun Lance Lian, 2018, "Human Beta Cells Generated from Pluripotent Stem Cells or Cellular Reprogramming for Curing Diabetes", Regenerative Engineering and Translational Medicine

Primary Project Contributors
Yuqian Jiang

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Universal Donor Cells

Our lab is working to develop universal donor cells for cardiac transplantation medicine applications and creating new molecular biology tools to enable this work.

Recent Publications

Lauren Randolph, Xiaoping Bao, Chikai Zhou, Xiaojun Lian. An all-in-one, Tet-On 3G inducible PiggyBac system for human pluripotent stem cells and derivatives, Scientific Reports 7 (2017), Article number: 1549 doi:10.1038/s41598-017-01684-6

Primary Project Contributors
Lauren Randolph

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Making stem cell technology accessible to all ages.

  • Course Development - Dr. Lian has developed several specialized undergraduate and graduate level courses focused on stem cell engineering technology.
  • Outreach - We have established a relationship with a local high school to curate after school opportunities for students in the advanced genetic class to tour the lab and learn more about stem cells and cutting edge genetic engineering.
  • Mentoring- Dr. Lian values the undergraduate research experience and welcomes motivated undergraduate students to participate in lab research with one-on-one mentorship from a graduate student.


Thank you to the following foundations for their support:

NIH NIBIB Trailblazer Award for New and Early Stage Investigators

Penn State ENGineering for Innovation and ENtrepreneurship (ENGINE) Grant

Penn State College of Engineering Multidisciplinary Research Seed Grant

Penn State Huck Institutes of the Life Sciences Seed Grant 

Penn State Lab Startup Grant











W342 Millenium Science Complex
University Park, PA 16802 


Phone: (814) 865-8093