The Ottolia Laboratory

Dr. Ottolia

Dr. Michela Ottolia is a physiologist and biophysicist studying mechanisms of ion transport in cardiac cells and their roles in heart excitability and contractility. One focal interest of the Ottolia laboratory is the plasma membrane transporter called the Na+-Ca2+ exchanger:  this protein harnesses the electrochemical gradient of Na+ to drive the uphill transport of Ca2+. In cardiac cells this transporter is the main Ca2+ extrusion mechanism and as such, it plays an essential role in both heart contractility and excitability.  Dysfunctions in its activity are associated with detrimental effects observed in ischemic injury, arrhythmia and heart failure.

Despite the essential role that the Na+-Ca2+ exchanger plays in cardiac contraction and excitability, fundamental questions about its operation and regulation remain unresolved. The Ottolia laboratory uses a wide array of investigative tools including mutagenesis, protein biochemistry, fluorescence spectroscopy and electrophysiology to close these gaps of knowledge. The structural-functional studies are then translated at the organism level to understand the role of the Na+-Ca2+ exchanger on heart function.

The ultimate goal of these studies is to provide new fundamental mechanistic knowledge on how the Na+-Ca2+ exchanger shapes heart contractility and excitability in health and disease and determine whether this important membrane transport system can be a therapeutic target to suppress cardiac arrhythmias or ameliorate heart conditions associated with pathological myocyte Ca2+ handling.     

The Ottolia laboratory is supported by funding from the National Institute of Health.

About the Principal Investigator

Dr. Michela Ottolia, PhD, is a Professor in the Department of Anesthesiology and Perioperative Medicine, faculty member of the UCLA Cardiovascular Research Laboratory and affiliated with the UCLA PhD Program in Molecular, Cellular, and Integrative Physiology (MCIP).


Interested postdoctoral scientists are encouraged to email their CV to Dr. Michela Ottolia, [email protected]

Our Team:

  • Michela Ottolia, PhD: Principal Investigator
  • Scott John, PhD
  • Kyle Scranton, BS
  • Shuzhen Zhang, MS
  • Daniel Ayubi
  • Nicole Attiq
Ottolia Lab