Penn Cardiovascular Institute

Cardiac Electrophysiology and Channel Biology Research Program at Penn

Director: Francis Marchlinski, MD, FHRS, FACC

The Cardiac Electrophysiology and Channel Biology Program Unit at the Penn Cardiovascular Institute (CVI) in Philadelphia performs cardiac electrophysiology research.

Researching Cardiac Arrhythmia at Penn 

The Cardiac Electrophysiology and Channel Biology Program focuses on the molecular mechanisms of cardiac arrhythmogenesis and conduction disease. Through the use of genetically engineered mouse models, human arrhythmogenic disorders are investigated at the levels of the whole heart, the cardiomyocyte and the molecule.

3-D Mapping of VT and ARVC

3-D Mapping of VT and ARVC

3-D maps generated during mapping of the epicardial surface of the heart in patients with ventricular tachycardia (VT) and arrhythmogenic right ventricular cardiomyopathy (ARVC).

Clinical and Translational Arrhythmia Research

One of the main areas of cardiac arrhythmia research at Penn is in applying signal processing techniques to better understand the mechanism of arrhythmias, particularly atrial fibrillation. Other main areas of research include developing new energy sources and improving the success rates of catheter ablation.

Interests also include:

  • Mechanisms of atrial fibrillation
  • Developing new catheter based treatment modalities for atrial fibrillation
  • Non-invasive risk stratification for atrial fibrillation
  • Quantification of ECG waveform morphology in ventricular tachycardia
  • Body surface potential mapping
  • Signal averaged P-waves

Cardiac Arrhythmia Research Methods

The core facilities and services at Penn CVI allow cardiac arrhythmia researchers to perform in vivo physiologic cardiovascular analysis of small animal models including rats and mice. Equipment and protocols developed within the Mouse Cardiovascular Physiology and Microsurgery Core allow investigators to measure real-time heart rate and rhythm using implantable telemetry devices.

Surface electrocardiograms and invasive electrophysiological testing is performed under the direction of Vic Patel, MD, PhD. Invasive hemodynamic monitoring of both left and right heart allows for direct measurements of cardiovascular pressures and function. Ischemia reperfusion models have been developed and validated using coronary ligation and fluorescent microsphere techniques to assess "myocardium at risk."

In combination with the Histology and Gene Expression Core, histologic analysis of infarcted myocardium is performed. Carotid injury models to examine vascular restenosis have also been developed. Micro pump implantation to deliver constant infusion of substances including isoproteranol and angiotension II are also performed. Equipment within the core includes intubation and anesthesia apparati, telemetry recording instruments, electrophysiology recording devices and appropriate electrical and pressure recording catheters.

Penn is a National Leader in Arrhythmia Treatment

A strong research program has a direct impact on patient care, which is one of the reasons why Penn's Cardiac Arrhythmia Program is one of the top two arrhythmia programs in the country.

  • Penn performs more than six times the national average of Afib ablation procedures.
  • Penn's Cardiac Arrhythmia Program is the second largest in the nation, with 15 academic electrophysiologists, and faculty and staff that are trained extensively in all aspects of anti-arrhythmic medications, pacemakers, ICD devices and ablation care.
  • Nearly one-third of all patients undergoing ablation procedures at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania have had procedures fail elsewhere.
  • Penn electrophysiologists are leaders in performing ventricular tachycardia (VT) ablations, attracting patients from around the world.
  • Penn has been at the forefront of every development in the field of implantable cardiac devices for more than three decades.
  • Penn arrhythmia researchers are international leaders in pioneering new techniques to optimize arrhythmia outcomes.

In addition, the electrophysiology, heart failure and echocardiogram teams at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania have played a pivotal role in demonstrating the effectiveness of biventricular pacing therapy for the improvement of heart failure. The Penn Cardiac Arrhythmia Program works with the Penn Heart Failure Program to implant more than 250 biventricular pacing units every year, making it one of the most experienced programs in the country in using and programming these devices.