Steven Poelzing


Office phone: 540-526-2108

Office location: R-2118

Email address:

Steven Poelzing, Ph.D.

Associate Professor, Fralin Biomedical Research Institute at VTC

Associate Professor, Department of Biomedical Engineering and Mechanics, College of Engineering

Associate Professor, Department of Internal Medicine, School of Medicine

Co-Director, Translational Biology, Medicine and Health Graduate Program

Sudden cardiac death is a significant cause of mortality in the United States and around the world. There is an increasing awareness that sudden cardiac death is linked to genetic mutations in cardiac proteins, or changes in those same proteins during diseases such as heart failure, ischemia, or diabetes.

One cardiac gap junction protein of interest, Connexin43, or Cx43, allows the spread of electrical activity between cardiac myocytes for the purpose of coordinating uniform and synchronized contraction. Conventional theory suggests that reducing Cx43 expression should slow the spread of electrical activity—conduction—in the heart and increase risk of arrhythmias leading to sudden death. The experimental relationships between conduction slowing, sudden cardiac death, and loss of Cx43 is not straightforward, however, and conflicting laboratory findings have led to a lack of experimental agreement on the degree of conduction slowing expected from a quantifiable reduction of Cx43.

Steven Poelzing hypothesizes that the spread of electrical activity between cardiac myocytes is not only mediated through connexins, but also through electric fields between myocytes. His laboratory has demonstrated that the hydration state of the heart can mask or unmask conduction slowing in the presence of reduced Cx43 expression. Poelzing’s group uses high-resolution optical mapping, isolated cellular electrophysiological measurements, and immunohistochemistry to determine the mechanisms of non-gap junction–mediated conduction and its dependence on Cx43 and the gap junction. In particular, Poelzing is seeking to determine how pathological insults such as cardiac inflammation and edema modulate the risk of sudden death in the young and how age changes this relationship.

For a more complete listing of Steven Poelzing's publications, visit PubMed.

Education and Training

  • MetroHealth Medical Center: Postdoctoral fellowship
  • Case Western Reserve University: PhD , Biomedical Engineering
  • Case Western Reserve University: MSE , Biomedical Engineering
  • Wright State University: BS , Biomedical Engineering

Previous Positions

  • University of Utah
    Research Associate Professor, Bioengineering
  • NASA Glenn Research Center
  • Case Western Reserve University
    Research Assistant
  • Wright State University
    National Science Foundation Research Fellow

Awards and Honors

  • Fellow, Heart Rhythm Society, 2015
  • Fellow, American Heart Association, 2014
  • Editorial Board, Frontiers in Cardiac Electrophysiology editorial board, 2010-Present
  • Top Instructors in Engineering, University of Utah, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011
  • Michael Bilitch Fellowship in Cardiac Pacing and Electrophysiology, Heart Rhythm Society, 2004