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University of Wisconsin–Madison

All-Optical Electrophysiology-Electrophysiology without Electrodes

The field of optogenetics encompasses tools and techniques involving the use of light to control and monitor activity of excitable cells, such as the human brain and heart. These cells are genetically modified to express one or more light-sensitive proteins. This project will develop an all-optical electrophysiology system that will allow researchers to tailor conductances and other biophysical properties of a cell or groups of cells using light.

To realize the full potential of optical voltage clamp, the research team will develop synthetic light activated molecules that will serve as “molecular electrodes” and design a microscope with automated feedback control of illumination. Resulting technology has the potential to be a game changer in the field of optogenetics and the development of future therapeutics. For instance, this all-optical electrophysiology method will allow high-throughput screening of drugs for excitability. The promise of optogenetics is also expected to have a profound impact on development of new therapeutics. Longer-term goals will be to develop this technology for high-throughput screening of therapeutics to treat cardiac and nervous system disorders.

Principal Investigator

  • Baron Chanda
    Associate Professor of Neuroscience

Co-Principal Investigators

  • Randall Goldsmith
    Assistant Professor of Chemistry
  • Jeremy Rogers
    Assistant Professor of Biomedical Engineering
  • Jennifer Schomaker
    Assistant Professor of Chemistry


  • Edwin Chapman
    Professor of Neuroscience
  • Katherine Henzler-Wildman
    Associate Professor of Biochemistry
  • Meyer Jackson
    Professor of Neuroscience
  • Martin Zanni
    Professor of Chemistry