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Optogenetics and Immortogenetics in Cardiovascular Research and Therapy



November 16-Dec 4 2020

Admission requirements


The laboratory of experimental cardiology at the LUMC strives to translate basic research findings into clinical applications and to approach clinical problems through fundamental and translational research. To his purpose, we make use of the principles & tools of (synthetic) biology, mathematics, engineering and medicine. These are applied to various complementary in silico (computer-based), in vitro, ex vivo, and in vivo models for studies on increasing levels of complexity, i.e. from molecule to whole organism. Of particular interest is the use of viral vectors to investigate the consequences of inhibiting or stimulating the expression of specific genes, and for translational research aimed at developing (synthetic) biomedical interventions, like cardiac gene therapy. We are particularly interested in gain-of-novel functions like those obtained upon optogenetic engineering of the heart, i.e. generation of endogenous photocurrents for arrhythmia termination. The diverse technical skills and theoretical knowledge required for this type of integrative research is investigated and discussed during this course.

First week:
Lectures will be given about important subjects related to the research in our department including lectures on 1) basic cardiac electrophysiology, 2) cardiomyocyte proliferation and differentiation, 3) gene therapy. At the end of this week the students need to decide what aspects have their particular interest, think about ways to study these aspects, and present their ideas in a plenary session. Throughout the week a number of scientific articles will be discussed.

Second week:
The students, which are operating in duos, will have (online) discussions with PhD students and postdoctoral fellows, visit the laboratories and perform some thematic experimental work if possible, and start writing their research proposal. Throughout week 2, a number of scientific articles will be discussed and presented by the students.

Third week:
The students will continue with their proposal. Peer feedback will be part of the process. The course will be closed by the students presenting their work. In addition, they will submit their proposal for future experiments.

Course objectives

The student can:

  1. explain the basic principles of cardiac electrophysiology, cardiomyocyte proliferation and differentiation and gene therapy.
  2. explain how electrophysiology is changed in frequently occurring arrhythmias.
  3. illustrate how genetic modification can influence the electrical interactions in the heart and can be utilized for cardiac regeneration.
  4. interpret and estimate the value of scientific literature.
  5. (in pairs) draw up a research strategy, in which cardiac electrophysiology or cardiac regeneration is examined/controlled by means of gene therapy.
  6. argue the results and conclusions of their own research plans with the knowledge gathered in this course, and subsequently is able to make recommendations for further research.


All course and group schedules are published on our LUMC scheduling website or on the LUMC scheduling app.

Mode of instruction

Plenary seminars, working in teams, self-study assignments.

Assessment method

Summative assessment:

  1. Research proposal and presentation.
  2. Literature discussions and presentations.
  3. Rubric professional skills and attitude.

Reading list

Will be distributed during the course.


**Maximum number of participants **