Zain Khalpey, MD

Associate Professor of Surgery
Co-Director, Heart Transplant Program
Director, Mechanical Circulatory Support
Director, Robotic Mitral Valve Program
Department of Surgery
University of Arizona
(520) 626-6996
AHSC 4302A


Dr. Khalpey’s lab focuses on bringing basic sciences research from the laboratory benchtop to the patient bedside. His interests are wide-ranging but are focused primarily in heart and lung organogenesis and preservation, tissue engineering, regeneration and repair, as well as cellular bioenergetics and 3-D printing. He is interested in studying the energetic signature of various stem, progenitor, and terminal cell types, and coupling this knowledge with metabolomic analyses to best create an ex vivo bioreactor environment that mimics in vivo function of the the heart and lungs. The lab has a special interest in mitochondrial energetics, and immunomodulatory mechanisms related to transplant surgery. As a cardiothoracic surgeon, Dr. Khalpey has been able to utilize novel findings in his lab to better treat his patients in the operating room, and is very proactive in bringing cutting-edge research to the forefront of medical application.

Dr. Khalpey is also active in clinical research. He manages CAPTURED, a large cardiothoracic surgery tissue and data repository that stores and distributes cardiothoracic tissues and clinical patient information to be used for current and future research. CAPTURED allows collaborators and researchers to increase understanding of the pathogenesis of a number of pathologies. CAPTURED tissues are also used in the Khalpey lab to research mechanisms of stem cell isolation and reproduction, tissue engineering, and organ decellularization and biogenesis.

Dr. Khalpey’s primary clinical research interest involves the use of stem cells for myocardial tissue remodeling and regeneration.  Dr. Khalpey is also investigating the growing problem of hospital readmission following surgery. He and his research team have developed and are now validating a model that uses non-invasive measures to predict pre- and postoperative risk factors of morbidity and mortality in patients undergoing cardiac surgery. It is hoped that the use of this model can help clinicians optimize patients’ preoperative health and reduce readmission rates following cardiac surgery. The model may also be used to monitor at-home patients who are at risk for readmission.