Optical defibrillation in mouse and human hearts

Our lab has published collaborative work with the University of Bonn in which we show, for the first time, the feasibility of light-based defibrillation of mouse hearts in vitro and a diseased patient heart in silico. This work is enabled by the emerging technology of cardiac optogenetics, which we have helped push to the forefront by creating a multi-scale modeling framework for integrating light-sensitive proteins in cardiac simulations.

The paper, entitled Optogenetic defibrillation terminates ventricular arrhythmia in mouse hearts and human simulations, was published in the Journal of Clinical Investigation, a high-impact medical research journal. JHU announced our publication in a press release and also assembled a promotional video, which can be viewed here: 


Shorter versions of the same video were posted on Facebook and Instagram. Several science media outlets also picked up our story, reflecting a significant and ongoing interest in clinical applications of this intriguing technology. See below for a list of selected links to media coverage. Co-first author Dr. Boyle was also interviewed for Babbage, a weekly podcast on science and technology produced by The Economist


Press Highlights

  1. Lighting the Heart Back to Normal RhythmOptics and Photonics News, September 21, 2016.
  2. Researchers Use Light to Defibrillate Arrhythmias in Mice, Alliance of Cardiovascular Professionals, September 13, 2016.
  3. Light Beams Help Patients with Deadly Heart Disorder, Healthcare Technology, September 13, 2016.
  4. Optical Defibrillation to Soothe Arrhythmic HeartsMedGadget, September 13, 2016.
  5. Could this be the end of defibrillators? Technique using gentle light waves instead of electric shocks 'stops life-threatening heart failure'The Daily Mail, September 12, 2016.
Major advance in cardiac optogenetics research published in JCI