Penelope A. Boyden, PhD

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Research in our laboratory is dedicated to determining the electrophysiological basis of abnormal heart rhythms (cardiac arrhythmias). In one set of projects we enzymatically isolate single cells from hearts that have become arrhythmic due to experimental myocardial infarction, or pacing induced atrial fibrillation. We examine the function of specific ionic currents, in particular the sodium and potassium currents in the diseased cells and how this might be altered by drugs. In other groups of experiments we use single cells from diseased hearts in order to determine how intracelluar calcium homeostasis is altered in cells of hearts post myocardial infarction. In some studies we combine whole cell voltage clamp techniques with epifluorescent and Ca2+ imaging techniques. We have found examples of reverse excitation contraction coupling where cytosolic Ca2+ elicits nondriven electrical activity (see for movie example). By studying whole heart and single cell electrophysiology of diseased hearts we can better understand how antiarrhythmic drugs work to terminate and/or prevent cardiac arrhythmias.

Academic Appointments

  • Professor of Molecular Pharmacology and Therapeutics


Cardiac electrophysiology; mechanisms of arrhythmias in experimental and naturally occurring animal models of disease