Benoit Bruneau, PhD
Associate Director, Gladstone Institute of Cardiovascular Disease and Senior Investigator

Other Professional Titles

Professor, University of California, San Francisco, Department of Pediatrics


(415) 734-2708


(415) 355-0960


Elana Lewis
(415) 734-2705

On The Web

Areas of Investigation

Our laboratory aims to understand how a heart becomes a heart: what cell lineage decisions take place to direct cardiac differentiation and what morphogenetic and patterning processes occur to assemble all of the heart's components into a functional organ. In both cases, we are primarily interested in how genes are regulated in this process. We study transcription factors, which bind DNA to turn on or off genes, and chromatin remodeling and modification factors, epigenetic regulators that are essential for gene regulation. We are particularly interested in how these factors control cardiac cell lineage decisions. This encompasses early development and differentiation, as well as postnatal physiology.

Using this approach we are deciphering the blueprint of the heart, by systematically investigating the function of transcriptional and epigenetic regulators across the entire genome, and understanding how networks of genes are deployed for important patterning and morphogenetic decisions in heart development. Understanding these networks will help understand the basis for congenital heart disease, and will also be key to develop approaches to creating new heart cells, perhaps opening up new avenues for cardiac regenerative medicine.

Lab Focus

What are the roles of chromatin remodeling and modifying complexes in heart development and cardiac lineage determination?
How do chromatin remodeling complexes and epigenetic regulators function to activate specific cardiac genes and what is the importance of this level of regulation for heart development and function?
How do disease-related transcription factors interact with chromatin modifying complexes to regulate cardiac morphogenesis, and how does this interaction go wrong in heart disease?
How are important morphogenetic processes such as cardiac septation regulated at the cellular level?


Created mouse models of congenital heart defects commonly found in children, including septal defects (“holes in the heart”) and conduction defects, or arrhythmias, by manipulating cardiac regulatory genes.
Uncovered a revolutionary role for Tbx5 in the evolution of patterning of the heart.
Begun to understand the roles played in heart development by a heart-restricted chromatin remodeling complex subunit, Baf60c, which illustrates the novel concept of tissue-specific remodeling complexes.
Identified a minimal "cocktail" of factors that can induce cardiac differentiation from mouse mesoderm.
Deciphered the epigenetic blueprint of cardiac differentiation.


  • Developmental Biology (Editorial Board)
  • Circulation Research (Editorial Board)
  • Circulation: Cardiovascular Genetics (Editorial Board)
  • Developmental Dynamics (Editorial Board)
  • American Heart Association Western Consortium (Grant Review Panel)
  • American Heart Association Western Consortium Study Group 3A (Co-chair)
  • iPierian, Inc. (Scientific Advisory Board)
  • Silver Creek Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (Scientific Advisor)

Professional titles

Professor, University of California, San Francisco, Department of Pediatrics


  • University of Ottawa
  • University of Ottawa

Honors and Awards

2012 American Heart Association (Fellow)
2010 Established Investigator Award (5 years), Lawrence J. and Florence A. DeGeorge Charitable Trust/American Heart Association
2003 Premier’s Research Excellence Award (Ontario)
2001 New Investigator Award, Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada/Canadian Institutes of Health Research