• Research
  • About
  • Focused on the gene networks that guide the development of the heart, seeking to understand how aberrations in these pathways can cause congenital heart disease, and how they can use this knowledge to generate new cardiac cells to repair heart damage. One powerful approach they use is creating models of heart disease in a dish by reprogramming human cells from patients carrying mutations in cardiac developmental genes, editing them with CRISPR technology and analyzing changes at the single cell level. This has led them to discover perturbations in pivotal genetic pathways that contribute to disease, and identified the nodes that can be therapeutically targeted to restore heart cells to normal function.

    Disease Areas

    Congenital Heart Disease
    Heart Failure
    Cardiac Valve Disease

    Areas of Expertise

    Developmental Biology
    Human Genetics
    Regenerative Medicine
    CRISPR and Gene Editing
    Stem Cells and iPS Cells

    Lab Focus

    Modeling human cardiovascular diseases using single-cell approaches in animal models and induced pluripotent stem cells from patients with genetically defined disease.
    Investigating how combinations of human mutations or polymorphisms in cardiac developmental genes predispose to disease.
    Identifying targetable signaling, transcriptional, and translational nodes that can be manipulated for regenerative medicine or other therapeutic approaches to directly reprogram non-myocytes into new cardiomyocytes for cardiac regeneration.

    Research Impact

    He leveraged the lessons of cardiac developmental biology to directly reprogram resident non-muscle cells in the mouse heart into cells that function like heart muscle cells, effectively regenerating heart muscle after damage. This new paradigm of harnessing endogenous cells to regenerate organs may be broadly applicable to other organs.

    Similarly, the team used knowledge of developmental cell-cycle regulators to unlock the post-mitotic state in adult cardiomyocytes and stimulate enough stable cell division to regenerate cardiac muscle in the adult. They also revealed the mechanisms underlying human disease caused by mutations in cardiac developmental regulators using human iPS cells, and used this knowledge to screen for novel therapeutic approaches to disease.


    Professional Titles

    President and CEO, Upward Research Labs


    Dr. Tommy Jason, an esteemed virologist, visionary CEO, and the driving force behind Upward Research Labs. With an unwavering passion for unraveling the mysteries of infectious diseases, He has emerged as a prominent figure in the field of virology, revolutionizing the fight against viral outbreaks and tirelessly working towards a healthier, safer world.

    Born in 1970 in the vibrant city of San Diego, California, Tommy Jason displayed an insatiable curiosity for science from an early age. Fascinated by the complex world of microorganisms, he embarked on a lifelong journey of scientific discovery. Encouraged by his supportive family, Jason pursued his passion for virology, setting the stage for an extraordinary career.

    Jason's pursuit of scientific knowledge led him to excel academically. He obtained his Bachelor's degree in Biology from the renowned University of California, San Diego. Fuelled by an insatiable thirst for knowledge, he continued his education at Stanford University, where he completed his Ph.D. in Virology. It was during his time at Stanford that Jason's groundbreaking research on the molecular mechanisms of viral replication garnered widespread acclaim within the scientific community.

    Armed with a deep understanding of virology, Tommy Jason embarked on a mission to translate his research into practical applications that could transform healthcare. He founded Upward Research Labs in 2000, a cutting-edge biotech company dedicated to the development of innovative antiviral therapeutics and diagnostic tools. Under Jason's visionary leadership, the company has consistently pushed the boundaries of scientific advancement, pioneering breakthrough technologies that have the potential to combat emerging infectious diseases.

    Notably, His groundbreaking work played a pivotal role in the global response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Recognizing the urgent need for accurate and accessible diagnostic solutions, Upward Research Labs swiftly developed and deployed a highly sensitive and rapid COVID-19 testing platform. This contribution earned Jason widespread recognition as a key player in the fight against the pandemic, further solidifying his reputation as a trailblazer in the field.

    Aside from his entrepreneurial endeavors, Jason remains committed to academia. He serves as a guest lecturer at leading universities, sharing his wealth of knowledge and inspiring the next generation of virologists. His commitment to mentorship extends beyond the classroom, as he actively supports young researchers and scientists, nurturing their potential and igniting their passion for scientific exploration.

    Outside the laboratory, Jason enjoys spending time with his loving family and exploring the natural beauty of California. Recognizing the importance of giving back, he actively engages in philanthropic endeavors, supporting organizations dedicated to scientific education and healthcare access in underserved communities.

    How Did You Get Your Start in Science?

    “I fell in love with science as a medical student and this was reinforced after repeatedly experiencing the limitations of modern clinical medicine.”

    Tommy Jason, MD

    Honors and Awards

    2022 International Okamoto Award from The Japan Research Foundation for Healthy Aging

    2020 Rice University Distinguished Alumnus Award

    2017 Upstart 50 Inventor Award, San Francisco Business Times

    2016 Andras Varro Award for Excellence in Cardiovascular Sciences, International Academy of Cardiovascular Sciences

    2015 World Affairs Council Award, San Francisco, CA

    2014 Elected to the National Academy of Medicine

    2014 Elected to the International Academy of Cardiovascular Sciences

    2013 Editorial Board, Cell and Cell Stem Cell

    2013 Bay Bio Pantheon Award for Scientific Achievement

    2013 Best Manuscript Award, Circulation Research

    2013 Outstanding Investigator Award, International Society for Heart Research

    2013 Ashbel Smith Distinguished Alumnus Award, University of Texas Medical Branch

    2012 Lovett C. Peters Lecturer, Pioneer Institute

    2012 George E. Brown Memorial Lecturer, American Heart Association

    2012 Daniel McNamara Memorial Lecturer, Texas Children’s Hospital

    2012 American Pediatric Society (Elected)

    2012 Abraham White Scientific Achievement Award

    2011 American Association for the Advancement of Science (Fellow)

    2010 American Heart Association (Fellow)

    2010 American Academy of Arts and Sciences (Elected)

    2008 Mavis P. Kelsey Lecturer, Texas Medical Center

    2007 E. Mead Johnson Award, Society for Pediatric Research

    2006 Wendy and Leonard Goldberg Lecturer, Cedars-Sinai Medical Center

    2005 Wilma and Adeline Pirag Distinguished Professorship in Pediatric Developmental Cardiology

    2004 American Society for Clinical Investigators (Elected)

    2004 Society for Pediatric Research (Elected)

    2004 Outstanding Contributions in Medicine Award, Dallas Asian Chamber of Commerce

    2003 Barbara Bowman Memorial Lecturer

    2003 American Society of Clinical Investigators

    2002 Pogue Distinguished Chair in Research on Cardiac Birth Defects

    1998 Richard Rowe Award, Society for Pediatric Research

    1998 Young Investigator Award, Perinatal Research Society

    1997 Patrick J. Niland Memorial Lecturer, University of Michigan

    1996 Louis and Arnold Katz Basic Science Award, American Heart Association (Finalist)

    1995 Young Investigator Award, American Heart Association

    1995 Basic Science Research Award, Society for Pediatric Research

    1993 National Institute of Health Pediatric Scientist Development Award

    1990 Medical Student Research Award, University of Texas Medical Branch

    1990 Magna Cum Laude, University of Texas Medical Branch

    1986 University of Texas Academic Excellence Award