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Entcheva Lab | Cardiac Optogenetics & Optical Imaging Research


The Entcheva Laboratory, the Cardiac Optogenetics and Optical Imaging Lab, is part of the Biomedical Engineering Department at The George Washington University, in downtown Washington, DC. In 2016 we relocated from Stony Brook University after 15 years. Our lab conducts highly interdisciplinary work developing and applying optical technologies to tackle bioelectricity problems. Specifically, we work on biophysical aspects and technological innovations for a new highly-parallel framework for all-optical cardiac electrophysiology in vitro and in vivo. Guided by our own theoretical/computational work in the area of bioelectricity, we experimentally integrate, test and validate new optical and optogenetic modalities for actuation (stimulation) and sensing (optical mapping) of the electromechanical function in cardiac cells and tissues. This includes pioneering work in cardiac optogenetics - the use of light for the precise interrogation and control of cells and tissues with genetically-inscribed light sensitivity, ex vivo or in their native setting. Our tools are particularly useful for mechanistic dissection of cardiac cell excitation, cell-cell communication and spatiotemporal phenomena like cardiac arrhythmias, in response to pharmacological, genetic or other manipulations. We developed and validated a fully-automated high-throughput platform for all-optical electrophysiology and mechanics, termed OptoDyCE, suitable for characterization of stem-cell derived induced pluripotent cardiomyocytes (iPS-CMs), engineered cardiac tissues as well as small native tissue samples. This technology has direct translational potential for the fields of drug screening and personalized medicine. For fundamental understanding and control of arrhythmias, we pursue conceptually new "wave steering" applications of optogenetics. Our research is funded by the National Science Foundation, the National Institutes of Health, the American Heart Foundation and other agencies.

Key Research Areas:

  • Cardiac optogenetics
  • High-throughput all-optical cardiac electrophysiology platforms, OptoDyCE
  • Stem cell technology for personalized medicine
  • Disease modeling and drug testing using patient-specific human iPS-CMs
  • Cardiac cell and tissue engineering
  • Optics, ultra-high resolution optical mapping of excitation and contraction
  • Control, optogenetics-enabled "wave steering"
  • Mechanisms of cardiac arrhythmias
  • Computational modeling in electrophysiology
  • Signal and image processing


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