Research Overview

The Efimov laboratory was established in 1994 and has over 20 years’ experience in the fields of cardiovascular engineering, cardiac electrophysiology and arrhythmia, biophotonics, and medical devices. The laboratory has been funded by NIH without interruption since 1998. During these years my trainees and I have developed, improved, and applied a number of experimental methodologies based on biophotonic imaging to study normal and abnormal excitation of the heart. My principal interest is to improve our understanding of the development and function of the cardiovascular system, and to develop novel diagnostics and electrotherapies for cardiovascular diseases.

My entire research career, I have been interested in the mechanisms of arrhythmia and anti-arrhythmia electrotherapy. Our work has resulted in the development of low energy defibrillation therapy, which is currently being translated by startup company Cardialen, Inc. (Cardialen.com). We continue our research in the field of medical devices focusing on novel concept organ mounted conformal electronics, based on flexible and stretchable electronics platform, developed by our collaborator John A. Rogers from UIUC, who recently moved to the Northwestern University. This is truly exciting time for the field of bioelectronics and medical devices, which will transform body-computer interface and significantly improve human health and life expectancy. We have recently started with Dr. John Rogers a new company CardioForm to translate conformal electronics platform to cardiovascular medicine.

Another area of interest of my laboratory is applied physiology of the human heart. Since 2007, our laboratory has conducted research on the mechanisms of arrhythmogenic remodeling of the human heart during failure. In collaboration with clinicians, our laboratory has developed a program focused on human heart physiology. We have acquired and studied ex vivo more than 400 live human hearts, initially at Washington University in St. Louis and now at the George Washington University in Washington, DC. Our current Washington, DC regional partners are Washington Regional Transplant Community and Inova Fairfax Hospital. In our studies published in more than 50 peer-reviewed manuscripts, we present findings from donor hearts rejected for transplantation compared with hearts from end stage heart failure patients removed during transplantation. Based on these findings we aim to develop novel diagnostic and therapeutic approaches to treat heart failure and manage associated complications, including sudden death due to arrhythmia. Recently, we have developed an organotypic human slice preparation, which allows us to test the efficacy and safety of various biological and pharmacological therapies in human tissue, including novel pharmacological, reprogramming and gene editing therapies.