Dr. Emilia Entcheva and Dr. Vesna Zderic have been awarded a two-year, $438,625 grant from the NIH-NIBIB (National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering) for their project, “Low-intensity ultrasound for control of cardiac electromechanics: a mechanistic investigation.” The grant will integrate ultrasound stimulation with all-optical interrogation of electromechanics in human heart cells to gain mechanistic insights for potential safe cardio-modulation. Dr. Entcheva is the contact MPI and Dr. Zderic is an MPI on this Multiple Principal Investigators grant. Dr. Entcheva initially received a $2 million EFRI (Emerging Frontiers in Research and Innovation) grant for the project “EFRI CEE: Human cardiac opto-epigenetics with HDAC inhibitors.” NSF gives only about a dozen of these very competitive EFRI grants per year. The project, which will run through July 2022, is a collaborative effort between BME, the GW Cancer Center, Harvard/Mass General, and Georgia Tech. Dr. Entcheva is the principal investigator. Co-investigators include Dr. Zhenyu Li, Dr. Alejandro Villagra (GW Cancer Center), Dr. Ralph Mazitschek (Harvard/Mass General), and Shu Jia (Georgia Tech).
Dr. Entcheva subsequently received a two-year $200,000 grant for her project “PFI-TT: Automated Platform for Drug Testing in Human Heart Cells Using Light.” This is a translational project to advance the all-optical technology for cardiac electrophysiology, developed in Dr. Entcheva’s laboratory over the last decade, closer to commercial use by miniaturization and validation. The intended market is drug screening in human (patient-derived) stem-cell-derived cardiomyocytes. In addition to engineering design, the project involves close interaction with the technology commercialization office at GW and partner companies.