Matthew Kay

Matthew Kay

Associate Professor, Associate Chair for Research and Graduate Affairs
Address: Science & Engineering Hall
800 22nd Street, NW
Phone: 202-994-2898


Research in Professor Kay’s laboratory is focused on studying cardiac electrical activity and mitochondrial function during normal and disease conditions.  Work is primarily focused on understanding how hypoxia, ischemia, and heart failure alter myocardial energy supply and demand and identifying how that may motivate deadly arrhythmias.  Professor Kay and his research team have specific expertise in high-speed optical assessments of cardiac physiology, including optical mapping and absorbance spectroscopy, and have developed powerful algorithms to analyze time varying optical signals.

Current Research

Recent projects address hypotheses related to metabolism and electrophysiology during hypoxia, ischemia, and heart failure using fluorescence imaging of mitochondrial NADH, sarcolemma membrane potential, intracellular calcium, and, recently, myocardial absorbance assessments of mitochondrial ETC chromophore redox state. Results from bi-ventricular working rabbit hearts have revealed a critical balance between oxygen supply and demand during high work load, particularly when capillary oxygen reserve is absent. Other projects investigate mitochondrial damage and ROS production during ischemia/reperfusion injury and the toxic effects of plasticizers on cardiac electrical activity and metabolism. Optogenetic approaches are used to selectively modulate the activity of cardiac autonomic nerves to study how sympathetic and parasympathetic tone influences electromechanical function. Recent work with GWU neuroscientist David Mendelowitz, PhD is focused on examining how chronic selective activation of hypothalamic oxytocin neurons improves cardiac function and favorably alters indices of cardiac ischemia and damage that occurs in heart failure animals.


Office Hours

  • Tuesday: 5:30 – 7:00 pm


B.S.M.E., North Carolina State University, 1993
M.S.B.E., North Carolina State University, 1996
D.S.B.M.E., Washington University in St. Louis, 2000
Postdoctoral, University of Alabama, 2001


  • Cauley E, Wang X, Dyavanapalli J, Sun K, Garrott K, Kuzmiak-Glancy S, Kay MW, Mendelowitz D. Neurotransmission to parasympathetic cardiac vagal neurons in the brain stem is altered with left ventricular hypertrophy-induced heart failure. Am J Physiol Heart Circ Physiol 309: H1281–7, 2015.
  • Jaimes R, III, Kuzmiak-Glancy S, Brooks DM, Swift LM, Posnack NG, Kay MW. Functional response of the isolated, perfused normoxic heart to pyruvate dehydrogenase activation by dichloroacetate and pyruvate. Pflügers Arch - Eur J Physiol Epub ahead: 1–12, 2015.
  • Azam MA, Wagg CS, Massé S, Farid T, Lai PFH, Kusha M, Asta J, Jaimes R, III, Kuzmiak-Glancy S, Kay MW, Lopaschuk GD, Nanthakumar K. Feeding the Fibrillating Heart: Dichloroacetate Improves Cardiac Contractile Dysfunction following VF. Am J Physiol Heart Circ Physiol 309: H1543–53, 2015.
  • Kuzmiak-Glancy S, Jaimes R, Wengrowski AM, Kay MW. Oxygen demand of perfused heart preparations: How electromechanical function and inadequate oxygenation affect physiology and optical measurements. Exp Physiol. 2015;603–616.
  • Kay MW, Kuzmiak-Glancy S, Rogers J. Racing to the flatline: heart rate and β-adrenergic stimulation quicken the pace. Am J Physiol Heart Circ Physiol. 2015; 308:H977–9.
  • Posnack NG, Brooks D, Chandra A, Jaimes R, III, Sarvazyan N, Kay MW. Physiological response of cardiac tissue to Bisphenol A: alterations in ventricular pressure and contractility. Am J Physiol Heart Circ Physiol 309: H267–H275, 2015.
  • Wengrowski AM, Wang X, Tapa S, Posnack NG, Mendelowitz D, Kay MW. Optogenetic release of norepinephrine from cardiac sympathetic neurons alters mechanical and electrical function. Cardiovasc Res. 2015; 105:143–50.
  • Swift L, Gil DAB, Jaimes R, Kay MW, Mercader M, Sarvazyan N. Visualization of Epicardial Cryoablation Lesions using Endogenous Tissue Fluorescence. Circ Arrhythm Electrophysiol. 2014; 7:929–37.
  • Posnack NG, Jaimes R, III, Asfour H, Swift LM, Wengrowski AM, Sarvazyan NA, Kay MW. Bisphenol A exposure and cardiac electrical conduction in excised rat hearts. Environ Health Perspect. 2014; 122:384–90.
  • Wengrowski AM, Kuzmiak-Glancy S, Jaimes, III, R, Kay MW. NADH Changes During Hypoxia, Ischemia, and Increased Work Differ Between Isolated Heart Preparations. American Journal of Physiology Heart and Circulatory Physiology, 2014; 306:H529–37.
  • Wang W, Xu L, Cavazos J, Huang HH, Kay MW. Fast Acceleration of 2D Wave Propagation Simulations Using Modern Computational Accelerators. PLoS ONE 9(1) 2014: e86484. DOI:10.1371/journal.pone.0086484.
  • Mazeh N, Haines DE, Kay MW, Roth BJ. A Simplified Approach for Simultaneous Measurements of Wavefront Velocity and Curvature in the Heart Using Activation Times. Cardiovasc. Eng. Technol. 2013; 4:520–534.
  • Swift LM, Asfour H, Posnack NG, Arutunyan A, Kay MW, Sarvazyan N. Properties of blebbistatin for cardiac optical mapping and other imaging applications. Pflugers Arch Eur J Physiol. 464:503–12, 2012.
  • Shiba Y, Fernandes S, Zhu WZ, Filice D, Muskheli V, Kim J, Palpant NJ, Gantz J, Moyes KW, Reinecke H, Van Biber B, Dardas T, Mignone JL, Izawa A, Hanna R, Viswanathan M, Gold JD, Kotlikoff MI, Sarvazyan N, Kay MW, Murry CE, Laflamme MA. Human ES-cell-derived cardiomyocytes electrically couple and suppress arrhythmias in injured hearts. Nature, Sept 13; 489(7415): 322-5, 2012.
  • Posnack NG, Swift LM, Kay MW, Lee NH, Sarvazyan NA. Phthalate exposure changes the metabolic profile of cardiac muscle cells. Environ. Health Perspect.,120(9):1243-51, 2012.
  • Mercader M, Swift LM, Sood S, Asfour H, Kay MW, Sarvazyan NA. Use of endogenous NADH fluorescence for real-time in situ visualization of epicardial radiofrequency ablation lesions and gaps. Am. J. Physiol. Heart Circ. Physiol., 302(10): H2131-H2138, 2012.
  • Asfour H, Wengrowski AM, Jaimes R, Swift LM, Kay MW. NADH fluorescence imaging of isolated biventricular working rabbit hearts. Journal of Visualized Experiments. Jul 24;(65): 4115. doi: 10.3791/4115, 2012.
  • Kadota S, Kay MW, Magome N, Agladze K. Curvature dependent excitation propagation in cultured cardiac tissue. Journal of Experimental and Theoretical Physics Letters, 94(11): 904-910, 2011.
  • Asfour H, Swift LM, Sarvazyan NA, Doroslovacki M, Kay MW. Signal decomposition of transmembrane voltage-sensitive dye fluorescence using a multiresolution wavelet analysis. IEEE Trans. Biomed. Eng., 58(7): 2083-2093, 2011.

Recent Extramural Grant Support

  • The National Institutes of Health (R01-HL095828A): 04/01/10-3/31/17. Matthew Kay’s role:  Principal Investigator. “Low flow reperfusion after acute myocardial ischemia: when too little is too much”.
  • The American Heart Association (14POST20490181) 07/01/2014 - 06/30/2016. Postdoctoral Fellowship for Sarah Kuzmiak-Glancy, PhD. Matthew Kay’s role: Mentor to the PI (Dr. Kuzmiak-Glancy). “Changes in Mitochondrial Respiration and ROS Production during Heart Failure: Mitochondrial or Cytosolic Dysfunction?”.
  • The National Institutes of Health (R01-HL0117991) 03/01/13 - 03/31/18. Matthew Kay’s role: Co-PI on GWU subcontract. PI: Michael Laflamme, MD, PhD. “Integration and Arrhythmia Suppression with hESC-Derived Cardiomyocyte grafts”.
  • The National Institutes of Health (STTR R41HL120511) 07/14/14 - 06/30/15. Matthew Kay’s role: Co-Investigator. PI: Narine Sarvazyan, PhD. "New generation of catheters for treatment of atrial fibrillation”.
  • Sponsored Research Agreement (LuxCath/AlliedMinds SRA) 12/01/12-11/30/13. MultiPI: Sarvazyan, Mercader, Kay. Matthew Kay’s role: Principal Investigator (one of 3). “Real time NADH imaging device”.

Pending Extramural Grants that have received a fundable score

  • The National Institutes of Health (R21-EB020857) 04/01/16 - 03/30/18. Matthew Kay’s role:  Principal Investigator. “Oxygen-rich perfusate that is compatible with optical assessments of myocardial physiology”.
  • The National Institutes of Health (R01-HL0xxxxx) 07/01/16 - 06/30/21. Matthew Kay’s role: Co-Investigator. PI: David Mendelowitz, PhD. “Selective activation of oxytocin neurons during heart failure”.


  • US Patent Number 9,014,789 (April 21, 2015): Mercader MA, Kay MW, Sarvazyan NA. Systems and methods for visualizing ablated tissue. All inventors provided equal intellectual contribution to this technology.
  • US CIP Patent Number 9,084,611 (July 21, 2015): Amirana, O, Armstrong, KC, Kay MW, Mercader M, Ransbury, T, Sarvazyan NA. Systems and methods for visualizing ablated tissue. All inventors provided equal intellectual contribution to this technology

Editorial Board Service

Reviewer for more than a dozen journals, including:

  • American Journal of Physiology Heart and Circulatory Physiology
  • IEEE Transactions on Biomedical Engineering
  • Annals of Biomedical Engineering
  • HeartRhythm Journal
  • Journal of Biomedical Optics
  • Journal of Applied Physiology
  • Computers in Biology and Medicine
  • Experimental Physiology


  • GWU Biomedical Engineering Department Associate Chair for Research and Graduate Affairs (2015-Present)
  • Lead Judge (1 of 3) at the GWU SEAS Research and Development Showcase (2015-Present).
  • Co-Chair of the Cardiac Contractile Dynamics session at the 2012 BMES Annual Meeting.
  • GWU SEAS 2011 Faculty Recognition Award
  • GWU SEAS Outstanding Young Researcher Award (2011)
  • Professional Engineer (2000)
  • Member: AHA, HRS, BMES
  • Peer reviewer of grants for the NIH SBIR/STTR Cardiovascular Sciences study section ZRG1 CVRS-C-10 (2013-Present).
  • Invited peer reviewer of grants for the NIH Director's Independence Award (DP5, ZRG1 RPHB-W 53, 2014).
  • Reviewer of grants for the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (2010, 2015).
  • Reviewer of grants for the State of Kentucky Science and Engineering Foundation (2015).
  • Invited peer reviewer of grants for the NIH special emphasis panel (ZRG1 BDCN-Y-02, 2010 & 2011).
  • Invited peer reviewer of grants for the NIH Bioengineering Sciences and Technologies Member Conflict Study Section ZRG1 BST-T 03, (2015).
  • Peer reviewer of grants for the NIH NHLBI SBIR Initiative in Early Detection and Monitoring of Cardiac Injury due to Cardiotoxicity (Topic 97), 2016.
  • Invited mail reviewer for grants submitted to the NIH Director’s Transformative Research Award (R01) Program, 2016/05 ZRG1 BCMB-A 51 R.