Scientists on the Spot: Tracing the potential in electrophysiology

Prof. Ravens begins the interview by recalling her first steps in electrophysiology. She started a medical doctor thesis in the Department of Physiology of Freiburg where expertise in electrophysiology had been developed. Her first experiments on living heart tissue combining microelectrode measurement with tissue stretch led to the concept of mechano-electrical coupling. This exciting experience gave her a wonderful opportunity to get in touch with science while still a medical student. With the enthusiastic encouragement and support of her supervisor, she was able to dive into cardiac electrophysiology.

From her outstanding career, picking one key discovery is difficult but the detection of spontaneous activity upon stretching cardiac muscle had a long-lasting impact. Additionally, while working on many drugs and compounds and their effect on the cardiac action potential, Prof. Ravens and colleagues were the first to show that sea anemone toxins were able to prolong the action potential by blocking sodium channel inactivation and that this was accompanied by a positive inotropic effect.

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