Benoit Bruneau’s lab is broadly interested in understanding how genes are turned on and off during human development, and how this process is controlled during the formation of the heart in the embryo. Specifically, his team is investigating how errors in this process cause congenital heart disease. They use mouse models and human induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells to unravel the transcription factor networks that regulate sets of genes critical for heart development.

Disease Areas

Birth Defects
Congenital Heart Disease
Heart Failure

Areas of Expertise

Disease Models
Heart Development
Gene Regulation
CRISPR and Genome Editing
Stem Cells
Human Genetics
Working in the Bruneau lab

Lab Focus

Studying the actions of chromatin remodeling complexes and epigenetic regulators on cardiac genes and their role in heart development and function
Understanding interactions between disease-related transcription factors and chromatin modifying complexes in the regulation of cardiac morphogenesis
Modeling human congenital heart disease in mice and human iPS cells
Investigating the cellular regulation of important morphogenetic processes, such as cardiac septation

Research Impact

Research in Bruneau’s lab is important for understanding basic concepts in gene regulation and how they are dysregulated in disease. They demonstrated interactions between cardiac transcription factors, which provided new insights into the tight regulation of gene cohorts and has had immediate implications in understanding how mutations in these genes cause similar heart defects. These findings are broadly impactful as they apply to any set of transcription factors, in any cell type. In addition, his team’s work on 3D genome organization resolved several long-standing questions in biology applicable to all cells in the body.


Professional Titles

Senior Investigator and Director, Gladstone Institute of Cardiovascular Disease

Director, Gladstone Institute of Cardiovascular Disease

Senior Investigator, Gladstone Institutes

William H. Younger Chair in Cardiovascular Research, Gladstone Institutes

Professor, Department of Pediatrics, UC San Francisco


Benoit Bruneau is an internationally recognized leader in the field gene regulation. To that, he adds expertise in the potential within stem cells to develop into diverse types of cells, and chromatin, which packages DNA into compact structures. In his lab, he centers this range of knowledge on his studies of the developing heart.

While an undergraduate, Bruneau was first drawn to developmental biology when he had the opportunity to work with axolotls, amphibians with the ability to regenerate limbs. A subsequent project on plant genetics stimulated his interest in genes, and Bruneau went on to explore heart gene expression and earn his PhD in physiology at the University of Ottawa. His focus on the organ has additionally been driven by the fact that heart disease impacts his own family.

Bruneau completed a postdoctoral fellowship in the Department of Genetics at Harvard University Medical School, where he worked in the joint lab of Jonathan and Christine Seidman, each highly regarded for their studies of the genetic mechanisms of heart disease. He distinguished himself within their lab by making landmark discoveries involving transcriptional dysregulation in disease. Over the years, mentorship has also been provided by Janet Rossant, a global leader in developmental biology, and Eric Olson, a molecular biologist whose research into heart formation and failure has garnered numerous awards.

From 2001 to 2006, Bruneau led a cardiovascular research and developmental biology lab at The Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto and was an assistant professor in the Department of Molecular and Medical Genetics at the University of Toronto. He joined Gladstone Institutes in 2006.

Bruneau serves as an editor for the journal Development and also participates on the editorial board of Genes & Development. In 2016, he helped found Tenaya Therapeutics, a biotechnology company combining gene therapy, cellular regeneration, and precision medicine to address the underlying drivers of heart disease.

What Keeps You Inspired About Your Research?

“New discoveries! Every new result brings joy and wonder, and sometimes puzzlement. The techniques we use today span imaging, genome editing, genomic approaches, and AI--and they're helping us understand heart development from the nucleosome to the fully formed heart. We are truly changing how we think about biology."

Benoit Bruneau, PhD

Honors and Awards

2012 Fellow, American Heart Association

2010 Established Investigator Award, Lawrence J. and Florence A. DeGeorge Charitable Trust/American Heart Association

2003 Premier’s Research Excellence Award, Canada

2001 New Investigator Award, Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada/Canadian Institutes of Health Research



Benoit Bruneau

Lab Members

Andrew Blair, MS
Emily Brower
Research Associate II
Alicja Brozek, PhD
Bioinformatics Fellow
Emily Bulger, PhD
Postdoctoral Scholar
Aaron Diaz
Student Intern
Martin Dominguez, MD, PhD
Visiting Scientist
Matthew George, PhD
Visiting Scientist
Zoe Grant, PhD
Kelly Hayes
Abe Horrillo
Graduate Student
Austin Hsu, PhD
Kevin Hu
Haiming Hu
Rotation Student
Lisa Iwamoto-Stohl, PhD
Postdoctoral Scholar
Carine Joubran, MS
Research Associate II
Vasumathi Kameswaran
Irfan Kathiriya, MD, PhD
Visiting Scientist
Alexis Leigh Krup, PhD
Megan Matthews
Visiting Researcher
Jon Muncie-Vasic, PhD
Vaishaali Natarajan, PhD
Elphege-Pierre Nora, PhD
Visiting Scientist
Catherine Pham
Student Intern
Kavitha Rao, PhD
Research Scientist
Kate Reed
Student Intern
Abigail Sanchez Perez
Student Intern
Sarah Winchester
Research Associate II
Jingshing Wu, MD, PhD
Visiting Scientist