"Pearl" for research on the heart as a defibrillator

Researchers from LUMC and the ECTM lab of TU Delft have developed an optogenetic method for resetting a disturbed heart rhythm. On 10 June 2021 the project stood out among all the projects that ZonMw finances, and was awarded the ‘ZonMw Parel’.

The Vidi project was originally granted to dr. Daniël Pijnappels (LUMC) in 2014 by ZonMw, and the ECTM lab of TU Delft joined the collaborative research by end of 2017. A study of a new method on effectively and safely preventing and terminating human cardiac arrhythmia by gene therapy and LED illumination was jointly undertaken. Compared to traditional electroshock-based methods, this novel method is superior in overcoming severe shock pain, and therefore increases the quality-of-life of the patients.

A series of advanced LED illuminating devices for in-vivo, ex-vivo and in-vitro cardiac experiments were custom developed by researchers from TU Delft. The full-loop technical development was carried out by TU Delft researchers by tackling challenges such as multi-physics modeling, advanced electronics packaging, and smart system integration.

The joint research has not only produced high-quality scientific outcome, but also drawn general public’s attention via various successful media exposures. The "Pearl" award not only proves excellence in breakthrough scientific outcome, it also provides great encouragement for multi-disciplinary collaborations.

The TUD team includes Dr. Rene Poelma (currently at Nexperia), PhD candidate Tianyi Jin (holding the "Pearl" in the photo) and MSc student Shanliang Deng, under supervision of Prof. Kouchi Zhang.