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Biomedical Sciences
Robert F. Gilmour, Jr., Ph.D.
Associate Dean for Research and Graduate Education
Professor of Physiology

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Phone: 607 253 3856
Fax: 607 253 3851

The primary goal of our research is to identify the underlying cellular mechanisms for lethal heart rhythm disorders. Our approach to this problem involves both computer modeling and experimental studies. Simple dynamical models and more complex ionic models are used to study cellular electrical dynamics in single cardiac myocytes and in one-, two- and three-dimensional recreations of cardiac tissue. The models have been developed using data generated by voltage clamp studies of single canine ventricular myocytes and by experiments conducted in isolated Purkinje fibers, arterially perfused canine ventricle and intact dogs. Predictions made by the computer models are tested experimentally and the resulting data are used to further refine the models. Currently, we are testing the idea that the most lethal of heart rhythm disorders, ventricular fibrillation, is caused by the nucleation of a spiral wave of reentrant excitation, which subsequently disintegrates into multiple, self-perpetuating spiral waves. This process is facilitated by the dynamical heterogeneity of cellular electrical properties that arises from a steeply sloped electrical restitution relation (the relation between the duration of the cardiac action potential and the interval between action potentials). Recent experiments indicate that reducing the slope of the restitution relation, either pharmacologically or by overexpression of selected ionic currents, may prevent the induction and maintenance of ventricular fibrillation. We are now in the process of evaluating various methods of reducing dynamical heterogeneity, with the expectation that such an approach might provide an effective means of preventing sudden cardiac death, the leading cause of death in the US.


  1. Luther S, Fenton FH, Kornreich BG, Squires A, Bittihn P, Hornung D, Zabel M, Flanders J, Gladuli A, Campoy L, Cherry EM, Luther GE, Hasenfuss G, Krinsky VI, Pumir A, Gilmour RF Jr, Bodenschatz E.  Low-energy control of electrical turbulence in the heart.   Nature (in press).

  2. Shen CJ, Ramkumar A, Lal A, Gilmour RF Jr. Wireless cardiac action potential transmission with ultrasonically inserted silicon microprobes. J Micromech Microeng (in press).

  3. Kanu U, Iravanian S, Gilmour RF, Christini DJ. Control of action potential duration alternans in canine cardiac ventricular tissue. IEEE Trans Biomed Eng 58:894-904, 2011.

  4. Otani NF, Luther S, Singh R, Gilmour RF Jr.  Transmural ultrasound-based visualization of patterns of action potential wave propagation in cardiac tissue.  Ann Biomed Eng 38:3112-3123, 2010.

  5. Krogh-Madsen T, Karma A, Riccio ML, Jordan PN, Christini DJ, Gilmour RF Jr.  Off-site control of repolarization alternans in cardiac fibers.  Phys Rev E 81:011915, 2010.

  6. Fenton FH, Luther S, Cherry EM, Otani NF, Krinsky V, Pumir A, Bodenschatz E, Gilmour RF Jr. Termination of atrial fibrillation using pulsed low-energy far-field stimulation.  Circulation 120:467-476, 2009.

  7. Bozkurt A, Gilmour RF Jr, Sinha A, Stern D, Lal A. Insect-machine interface based neurocybernetics.  IEEE Trans Biomed Eng 56(6):1727-1733, 2009.

  8. Bozkurt A, Lal A, Gilmour RF.  Balloon-assisted flight of radio controlled insect biobots. IEEE Trans Biomed Eng 56(9):2304-2307, 2009.

  9. Gelzer ARM, Koller ML, Otani NO, Fox JJ, Enyeart M, Bartoli CR, Riccio ML, Moïse NS, Gilmour RF Jr. Dynamic mechanism for initiation of ventricular fibrillation in vivo – antifibrillatory effects through modulation of restitution parameters.  Circulation 118:1123-1129, 2008.

  10. Siso-Nadal F, Otani NF, Gilmour RF Jr, Fox JJ. Boundary-induced reentry in homogeneous excitable tissue.  Phys Rev E 78:031925, 2008.

  11. Otani NF, Mo A, Mannava S, Fenton FH, Cherry EM, Luther S, Gilmour RF Jr.  Characterization of multiple spiral wave dynamics as a stochastic predator prey system.  Phys Rev E 78:021913, 2008.

  12. Karma A, Gilmour RF Jr.  Nonlinear dynamics of heart rhythm disorders.  Phys Today 60:51-57, 2007.

  13. Pumir A, Nikolski V, Hörning M, Isomura A, Agladze K, Yoshikawa K, Gilmour R, Bodenschatz E, Krinsky V.  Wave emission from heterogeneities opens a way to controlling chaos in the heart.  Phys Rev Lett 99:208101, 2007.

  14. Christini DJ, Karma A, Riccio ML, Culianu CA, Fox JJ, Gilmour RF Jr.  Control of electrical alternans in canine cardiac Purkinje fibers.  Phys Rev Lett  96:104101, 2006.

  15. Chen X, Lal A, Riccio ML, Gilmour RF Jr. Ultrasonically activated silicon microprobes for cardiac signal recording.  IEEE Trans Biomed Eng 53:1665-1671, 2006.

  16. Koller ML, Maier SKG, Gelzer, ARM, Bauer WR, Meesmann M, Gilmour RF Jr.  Altered dynamics of action potential restitution and alternans in humans with structural heart disease.  Circulation 112:1542-1548, 2005.

More information, is available at my Life Sciences page.