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Cardiac Optogenetics &

Optical Imaging Lab (COOL)

Institute for Molecular Cardiology (IMC)

Contact Info

Emilia Entcheva

T: 631.444.2368
F: 631.444.3432
E: Emilia.Entcheva

Institute for Molecular Cardiology,

BST-6, Room 120B
Stony Brook, NY

Emilia Entcheva


Director: Cardiac Optogenetics & Optical Imaging Lab (COOL)

Research Focus

The Cardiac Optogenetics & Optical Imaging Laboratory develops new optical modalities for actuation and sensing of the electromechanical function in cardiac cells and tissues. Our lab leads pioneering work in the field of cardiac optogenetics - the use of light for the precise interrogation, stimulation and control of excitable tissue, including heart, that has been genetically altered to become light-sensitive. We develop useful tools for physiomics type of studies, drug, gene and stem cell therapy testing 3D cellular platforms, also needed for experimental validation of computer models of excitable tissue. This research is multidisciplinary in nature and involves a spectrum of experimental molecular and cell biology procedures, along with the application of design concepts from electrical, optical, mechanical and chemical engineering to create the enabling technology for our studies. New imaging modalities, image processing algorithms and computer modeling are essential complementary tools developed and applied by our team.

Key research areas include: 1) cardiac optogenetics; 2) optical mapping of excitation; 3) advanced signal and image processing; 4) cardiac cell and tissue engineering; 5) unraveling the mechanisms of cardiac arrhythmias.

Our research is funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH-NHLBI and NIH-NIGMS), National Science Foundation (NSF), American Heart Association (AHA) and the Whitaker Foundation.


  • Postdoctoral - Biomedical Engineering, The Johns Hopkins University, 1998-2001
  • Ph.D. - Biomedical Engineering, The University of Memphis, 1998
  • M.Sc. - Electrical Engineering, Technical University - Sofia, Bulgaria, 1988

Research and Professional Experience

  • Professor (tenured), Dept. of Biomedical Engineering, SUNY at Stony Brook, 2013 -
  • Associate Professor, Dept. of Biomedical Engineering, SUNY at Stony Brook, 2007-2013
  • Assistant Professor, Dept. of Biomedical Engineering, SUNY at Stony Brook, 2001-2007
  • Professor (Secondary Appointment), Dept. of Physiology and Biophysics, SUNY at Stony Brook, 2002 -
  • Professor (Secondary Appointment), Division of Cardiology, School of Medicine, SUNY at Stony Brook, 2007 -
  • Postdoctoral Fellow, Dept. of Biomedical Engineering, Johns Hopkins University, 1998-2001
  • Research and Teaching Assistant, Dept. of Biomedical Engineering, University of Memphis, 1995-98
  • Informatics Engineer, Institute for Informatics, Bulgarian Academy of Sciences, Sofia, 1993-94
  • Research Associate, Department of Biotechnics, Technical University - Sofia, Bulgaria, 1990-93
  • Design engineer, Institute for Microprocessor Instruments and Systems, Sofia, Bulgaria, 1988-90

Awards and Honors

  • 2005 Outstanding Teacher Award, Department of Biomedical Engineering, Stony Brook University
  • 2004,2006 American Heart Association – “Bioengineering & Biotechnology” Grant Review Panel
  • 2003, 2006 National Science Foundation, Grant Review Panels in Tissue Engineering, Sensors and Computational Biology
  • 2003 Promising Inventor Award, The Research Foundation of SUNY
  • 2001 Travel Award from the National Institutes of Health
  • 1999-2001 American Heart Association Postdoctoral Fellowship
  • 1998-2000 Distinguished BME Postdoctoral Fellowship, The Johns Hopkins University
  • 1997-98 Van Vleet Memorial Doctoral Fellowship, The University of Memphis
  • 1995-98 Herff College Doctoral Internship, The University of Memphis
  • 1987 Deutscher Akademischer Austauschdienst (DAAD, Germany) Fellowship
  • 1983-88 Yearly High Academic Achievements Stipend, Technical University Sofia, Bulgaria

Professional Membership and Service

  • Invited Speaker – "Optogenetics 2013", lecture on "Cardiac Optogenetics", Boston, MA, 05/01-05/02/2013.
  • Invited Lecturer Heart Rhythm Society (HRS) Annual Meeting – Focus Symposium, lecture on "Cardiac Optogenetics", San Francisco, CA, 05/04-05/07/2011.
  • Invited Lecturer, Gordon Research Conference (GRC) on Cardiac Arrhythmia Mechanisms, lecture on "Cardiac Optogenetics", Galveston, TX, 02/13-02/18/2011.
  • Plenary Speaker at the IEEE International Conference on "System Cell Engineering" in Nagoya, Japan, 11/06-11/09/2008.
  • Founding Faculty Member for the Systems Biology Center in New York State, funded by an NIH-NIGM grant (2007-present)
  • Invited Core Lecturer for International Workshop "Dynamic aspects of biological networks", Pohang, Korea, organized by APCTP (Asia-Pacific Center for Theoretical Physics and the Center for Cell Dynamics, Seoul University, 11/04 – 11/15/2007.
  • Organizer (1 of 5) of a 4-week International Workshop “Cardiac Dynamics: From Cell to Organ” at the Kavli Institute for Theoretical Physics (KITP), University of California, Santa Barbara, CA, (www.kitp.ucsb.edu/), 07/01-07/26/2006.
  • Theme Chair (1 of 4), for “Cellular and Functional Tissue Engineering”, 28th Annual International Conference of the IEEE - Engineering in Medicine and Biology Society (EMBS), New York, NY (http://embs2006.njit.edu/technical/theme6.php), September 2006.
  • Program Committee Member for the First Biotechnology and Bioinformatics Symposium (BIOT-2004) in Colorado Springs, CO, 09/24/2004; (bioinfo.uccs.edu).

  • Grant Review Panels:
    National Institutes of Health
    • Member of the ESTA (Electrical Signaling, Ion Transport and Arrhythmias) study section (2013-2017, served ad hoc 2012)
    • "Regular" ad hoc reviewer for MABS (Modeling & Analysis of Biological Systems) study section (served 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011)
    • Special Emphasis Panels (2008 and 2010)

    National Science Foundation, Section:
    • IGERT study sections (2007 and 2012)
    • "Bioengineering & Biotechnology" study section (2011)
    • "Computational Biology" study section (2006)
    • "Sensors and Biochips" study section (2006)
    • "Tissue Engineering" study section (2003)

    American Heart Association:
    • Member of "Bioengineering & Biotechnology" study section (2004-present)

    • Human Frontier Science Program – Europe-America-Asia (2006, 2008, 2009)
    • GIF: German-Israeli Foundation for Scientific Research & Development (2010, 2011)
    • United States Civilian Research and Development Foundation (2001-2006)
    • Maryland Sea Grant Foundation (2004)

    Journal Editor/Reviewer:
    * Ad hoc Associate Editor for PLoS Computational Biology
    * Editor for Frontiers in Computational Physiology & Medicine

    Regular Reviewer for: Acta Biomaterialia, American Journal of Physiology , Annals of Biomedical Engineering , Biomacromolecules, Biomaterials, Biomedical Materials, Biophysical Journal , BioTechniques, Biotechnology & Bioengineering, Cardiovascular Research, Cellular and Molecular Bioengineering, Circulation, Circulation Research, Chaos: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Non-linear Science, IEEE Transactions on Biomedical Engineering, Journal of Cardiovascular Electrophysiology Journal of Biomedical Materials Research, Journal of Molecular and Cellular Cardiology, Journal of Visualized Experiments (JoVE), Mechanics Research Communications, Nature – Chemical Biology PLoS One, Sensors and Actuators, Marcel-Dekker Encyclopedia for Biomaterials & Biomedical Engineering, Wiley Encyclopedia of Medical Devices & Instrumentation

    • American Heart Association - Basic Cardiovascular Sciences Council
    • The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE)
    • IEEE Engineering in Medicine and Biology Society (EMBS)
    • Biomedical Engineering Society (BMES)
    • Biophysical Society
    • Heart Rhythm Society (HRS)


For an up-to-date publication list visit Cardiac Optogenetics & Optical Imaging Lab (COOL)

Recent Publications on Cardiac Optogenetics:
  1. Jia, Z., V. Valiunas, Z. Lu, H. Bien, H. Liu, H. Z. Wang, B. Rosati, P. R. Brink, I. S. Cohen, and E. Entcheva. 2011. Stimulating cardiac muscle by light: cardiac optogenetics by cell delivery. Circ Arrhythm Electrophysiol 4:753-760.

  2. Entcheva, E. 2013. Cardiac optogenetics. Am J Physiol Heart Circ Physiol 304:H1179-1191.

  3. Entcheva, E. 2013. Integration of optical stimulation with high-resolution optical imaging of cardiac tissue. Microscopy & Analysis 27.

  4. Entcheva, E., and I. S. Cohen. 2013. Optogenetic Control of Heart Muscle. In Cardiac Electrophysiology: From Cell to Bedsite. J. Jalife, and D. Zipes, editors.

  5. Williams, J. C., J. Xu, Z. Lu, A. Klimas, X. Chen, C. M. Ambrosi, I. S. Cohen, and E. Entcheva. 2013. Computational Optogenetics: Empirically-Derived Voltage- and Light-Sensitive Channelrhodopsin-2 Model. PLoS Comput Biol 9:e1003220.

  6. Boyle, P. M., J. C. Williams, C. M. Ambrosi, E. Entcheva, and N. A. Trayanova. 2013. A comprehensive multiscale framework for simulating optogenetics in the heart. Nature communications 4:2370.

  7. Ambrosi, C. M., and E. Entcheva. 2014. Optogenetics' promise: Pacing and cardioversion by light? Future Cardiology (in press).

  8. Boyle, P. M., E. Entcheva, and N. Trayanova. 2014. See the light: Can optogenetics restore healthy heartbeats? And if it can, is it really worth the effort? Expert Rev Cardiovasc Ther (in press).

  9. Ambrosi, C. M., and E. Entcheva. 2014. Optogenetic control of cardiomyocytes. Methods in Molecular Biology (to appear).


    • BME 301 Bioelectricity (Spring 2002-present), Course Developer & Director
    • BME 503 Cell & Molecular Imaging (Fall 2002 - present), Course Developer & Director

    Contributions to other courses:
    • BME 100 Introduction to Biomedical Engineering, guest lectures
    • BME 501 Engineering Principles in Cell Biology (Fall 2001), Course Co-Director, guest lectures
    • BME 525 Tissue Engineering , guest lectures
    • HBY 563 Measurement and Analysis in Physiological Research, Participating Faculty