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Optogenetics and Immortogenetics in Cardiovascular Research and Therapy


Admission requirements


Period: 21 November 2022 - 16 December 2022

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. The students, which are operating in groups, will be involved in in vitro work throughout week 1 on different aspects of the proliferation and differentiation capabilities of cardiomyocytes.

Second week:
First, lectures will be given about RNA sequencing and gene identification after which the students will work on an exciting scientific assignment for presentation later this week. Also, the in vitro experiments will be continued, while various aspects regarding science and career will be discussed in an interactive manner.

Third week:
Here, lectures will be given about the basic principles of optogenetics and its application in cardiovascular research. The students will also be involved in different optogenetic studies in the laboratory. Moreover, another exciting assignment needs to be prepared for presentation to finalize the program-based part of the course.

Fourth week:
During this week the students can be prepare for the exam with a Q&A on Wednesday.

Course objectives

The student can:

  1. explain the basic principles of cardiac electrophysiology, cardiomyocyte proliferation and differentiation and gene therapy.
  2. explain the principles underlying optogenetics and immortogenetics and how these techniques can be used in cardiovascular research.
  3. understand basic electrophysiological methods and cardiac arrhythmia models used in research for target identification and therapeutic testing.
  4. (in pairs) draw up a research plan regarding the selection and study of a target, based on previous lectures, for plenary presentation and discussion.
  5. discuss key aspects of the “cycle of scientific investigation” (i.e. from idea to funding, data and presentation).


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. Make and present two research plans
  2. Participation in and contribution to, based on rubric professional skills and attitude:
  • preparation and presentation research plans

  • lab work

  1. Theoretical exam.

Reading list

Will be distributed during the course.


Registration for FOS courses, H2W, Scientific Conduct, Course on Lab Animal Sciences and CRiP takes place in lottery rounds in the beginning of July. After the lottery rounds: if you want to register for a course you are kindly asked to contact the student administration at

Maximum number of participants