The Cardiac Bioelectricity and Arrhythmia Center, CBAC, is an interdisciplinary center whose goals are to study the mechanisms of rhythm disorders of the heart (cardiac arrhythmias) and to develop new tools for their diagnosis and treatment. Cardiac arrhythmias are a major cause of death (over 300,000 deaths annually in the US alone; estimated 7 million worldwide) and disability, yet mechanisms are poorly understood and treatment is mostly empirical. Through an interdisciplinary effort, CBAC investigators apply molecular biology, ion-channel and cell electrophysiology, optical mapping of membrane potential and cell calcium, multi-electrode cardiac electrophysiological mapping, Electrocardiographic Imaging (ECGI) and other noninvasive imaging modalities, and computational biology (mathematical modeling) to study mechanisms of arrhythmias at all levels of the cardiac system. Our mission is to battle cardiac arrhythmias and sudden cardiac death through scientific discovery and its application in the development of mechanism-based therapy.

Research Goals

Research projects at CBAC cover the entire spectrum from molecular and cellular processes to mechanisms, diagnosis and treatment of arrhythmias in patients. The cross-disciplinary structure of CBAC promotes collaborations between researchers and clinicians and fosters a multiple-approach strategy to the study, diagnosis and treatment of cardiac arrhythmias. Approaches include molecular, single-cell and whole-animal experiments, mathematical modeling and computer simulations, and patient studies during imaging, catheterization and open-heart surgery. Among the state-of-the-art techniques employed are genetics, biomolecular structural analysis, patch clamp recordings from single ion channels, ion-selective electrode measurements, high resolution electrical mapping, optical mapping of cardiac activation and cell-calcium, supercomputing and computer graphics, signal processing and image analysis.

Projects include:

  • Molecular structure and electrophysiological function of cardiac ion channels
  • Development of mathematical models of cardiac ion channels, cells and tissues
  • Regulatory pathways in cardiac cells
  • Mechanisms of hereditary cardiac arrhythmias
  • Arrhythmias in myocardial ischemia and infarction
  • Cell-to-cell communication and action potential propagation in the diseased heart
  • Ion-channel structure-function based drug design
  • Mechanisms of cardiac (ventricular and atrial) tachyarrhythmias and fibrillation
  • Development and application o f a novel imaging modality for cardiac arrhythmias
  • Mechanisms of cardiac resynchronization therapy for heart failure