Emilia Entcheva

Headshot of Emilia Entcheva
SEH 5660 | Office Hours: W: 3:00 – 5:00 pm
[email protected]

Professor Emilia Entcheva directs the Cardiac Optogenetics and Optical Imaging Laboratory. Her research group combines biophotonics tools with human stem-cell-derived cardiomyocyte technology and gene editing approaches to aid the advancement of personalized medicine. The lab played a key role in bringing optogenetics to the cardiac field and validating its use experimentally and computationally. The lab combines cell and tissue engineering, genetic engineering, all-optical cardiac electrophysiology, instrumentation and control, machine learning and transcriptomics analysis to help improve the maturity of engineered human heart tissues and their use in high-throughput drug-screening applications. Professor Entcheva is an AIMBE Fellow and her work is supported by the NSF and NIH.


  • B.S./M.S. Electrical Engineering, Technical University – Sofia, Bulgaria
  • Ph.D. Biomedical Engineering, The University of Memphis, 1998
  • Postdoctoral, Biomedical Engineering, Johns Hopkins University, 2000
  • Bioelectricity and biophysical modeling
  • Optogenetics
  • Cell and tissue engineering, organ-on-chip
  • Genetic engineering
  • Stem cell technology
  • Biophotonics, optical mapping, all-optical electrophysiology
  • High-throughput drug screening
  • Machine learning for personalized medicine

A complete list of Dr. Entcheva’s publications can be found here: https://scholar.google.com/citations?user=ljGtoPQAAAAJ&hl=en

  • E. Entcheva, M.W. Kay, Cardiac optogenetics: a decade of enlightenment, Nature Reviews Cardiology 18(5) (2021) 349-367.

  • C.J. Chua, J.L. Han, W. Li, W. Liu, E. Entcheva, Integration of Engineered “Spark-Cell” Spheroids for Optical Pacing of Cardiac Tissue, Frontiers in Bioengineering and Biotechnology 9(491) (2021).

  • P.M. Boyle, J. Yu, A. Klimas, J.C. Williams, N.A. Trayanova, E. Entcheva, OptoGap is an optogenetics-enabled assay for quantification of cell–cell coupling in multicellular cardiac tissue, Scientific reports 11(1) (2021) 9310.

  • M. Paci, E. Passini, A. Klimas, S. Severi, J. Hyttinen, B. Rodriguez, E. Entcheva, All-Optical Electrophysiology Refines Populations of In Silico Human iPSC-CMs for Drug Evaluation, Biophys J 118(10) (2020) 2596-2611.

  • A. Klimas, G. Ortiz, S.C. Boggess, E.W. Miller, E. Entcheva, Multimodal on-axis platform for all-optical electrophysiology with near-infrared probes in human stem-cell-derived cardiomyocytes, Prog Biophys Mol Biol 154 (2020) 62-70.

  • W. Li, J.L. Han, E. Entcheva, Syncytium cell growth increases Kir2.1 contribution in human iPSC-cardiomyocytes, American Journal of Physiology-Heart and Circulatory Physiology 319(5) (2020) H1112-H1122.

  • L. Wei, W. Li, E. Entcheva, Z. Li, Microfluidics-enabled 96-well perfusion system for high-throughput tissue engineering and long-term all-optical electrophysiology, Lab Chip 20(21) (2020) 4031-4042.

  • C.M. Ambrosi, G. Sadananda, J.L. Han, E. Entcheva, Adeno-Associated Virus Mediated Gene Delivery: Implications for Scalable in vitro and in vivo Cardiac Optogenetic Models, Frontiers in physiology 10 (2019).

  • B. Quach, T. Krogh-Madsen, E. Entcheva, D.J. Christini, Light-Activated Dynamic Clamp Using iPSC-Derived Cardiomyocytes, Biophys J 115(11) (2018) 2206-2217.

  • A. Klimas, C.M. Ambrosi, J. Yu, J.C. Williams, H. Bien, E. Entcheva, OptoDyCE as an automated system for high-throughput all-optical dynamic cardiac electrophysiology, Nature communications 7 (2016) 11542.

  • E. Entcheva, G. Bub, All-optical control of cardiac excitation: combined high-resolution optogenetic actuation and optical mapping, J Physiol 594(9) (2016) 2503-10.

  • J.C. Williams, E. Entcheva, Optogenetic versus Electrical Stimulation of Human Cardiomyocytes: Modeling Insights, Biophys J 108(8) (2015) 1934-45.

  • E. Entcheva, Cardiac optogenetics, Am J Physiol Heart Circ Physiol 304(9) (2013) H1179-91.

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

  • Z. Jia, V. Valiunas, Z. Lu, H. Bien, H. Liu, H.Z. Wang, B. Rosati, P.R. Brink, I.S. Cohen, E. Entcheva, Stimulating cardiac muscle by light: cardiac optogenetics by cell delivery, Circ Arrhythm Electrophysiol 4(5) (2011) 753-60.

  • Elected AIMBE Fellow for “pioneering work in cardiac optogenetics & spearheading the development and biophysical characterization of new bioengineering tools towards all-optical electrophysiology", 2016
  • Lead Judge for the National Finals of the Siemens Math and Science Competition for high school students, 2017

  • Organizer of a 4-week International Workshop “Integrative Cardiac Dynamics” at the Kavli Institute for Theoretical Physics (KITP), University of California, Santa Barbara, CA, 2006 & 2018

  • Organizer of an international meeting on “Optogenetic Technologies and Applications”


Select Invited Speaker

  • Frequent seminar speaker nationally and internationally, session moderator, discussion leader at universities and professional meetings, 2019 & 2021

  • Invited Speaker, Featured “BiOS Hot Topics” at SPIE Photonics West, 2017

  • Invited Lecturer, Biophotonics Summer School, Island of Ven, Sweden, 2017


Editorial Board and Journal Reviewer

  • Editorial Board Member for Scientific Reports (Nature family of journals), 2013-now

  • Editor for Frontiers in Computational Physiology & Medicine, 2011-now

  • Ad hoc Associate Editor for PLoS Computational Biology

  • Reviewer for over 30 professional journals


Select Grant Review Panels

  • NSF CAREER grants

  • NSF IGERT grants

  • NSF Biophotonics grants

  • Member of the NIH ESTA (Electrical Signaling, Ion Transport and Arrhythmias) study section, 2013-2017

  • NIH Special Emphasis Panels for grants under NHLBI and NIBIB, for the Transformative Awards program, for the BRAIN Initiative, 2008-2019


Extramural Grant Support

  • NSF Emerging Frontiers in Research and Innovation (EFRI) grant, “EFRI: Human cardiac opto-epigenetics with HDAC inhibitors, Role: PI (Co-PIs: Z. Li, A. Villagra, S. Jia, R. Mazitschek), 2018-2022

  • NIH-NHLBI, R01 HL144157-01A1, “Scalable platform for optimizing human cardiac tissue engineering via optical pacing and on-demand oxygenation”, Role: Multi-PI contact with (MPI Kay MW, Co-I: Z. Li, A. Popratiloff, A. Horvath), 2019-2023

  • R01 NIH-NHLBI R01HL111649, “Cardiac optogenetics: A cell delivery approach”, Role: PI, 2012-2019

  • NSF-Partnerships for innovation (PFI), “PFI-TT: Automated platform for drug testing in human heart cells using light”, Role: PI, 2016-2019

  • NSF-Biophotonics, “Light-enabled gene control for cardiac applications”, Role: PI, 2017-202

  • NSF-Biophotonics, “All-optical interrogation system for cardiac dynamics”, Role: PI, 2015-2019

  • NIH-NIBIB, R21EB023106, “Near-infrared optogenetic control of the human heart”, Role: Multi-PI, 2016-2019

  • NIH-NHLBI, “Low-intensity ultrasound for control of cardiac electromechanics: a mechanistic investigation”, Role: Multi-PI, 2018-2021

  • Heart & Stroke Foundation of Canada, “Neurally-Mediated Arrhythmogenesis”, Role: unpaid Co-I, PI: G. Bub, 2018-2021

  • Entcheva E, Klimas A, “Automated system for high-throughput all-optical dynamic cardiac electrophysiology”, No. 62/330,741, patent filled at GW on 05/02/2017.
  • Entcheva E, Bub G, “Optical interrogation and control of dynamic biological functions”, international patent WO 2016108049, patent filed jointly through University of Oxford, UK, and SBU 12/2015.
  • Entcheva E, Bien H, Jia Z, Lu Z and Cohen IS, “Optical control of cardiac function”, international patent WO/2012/054484.