Dr Blanca Rodriguez
Medical Research Council Fellow
+44 1865 610806
My research interest is in the investigation of the mechanisms underlying variability in the electrophysiological response of the heart to disease and anti-arrhythmic therapies. The methodology we use is based on the integration of computational modelling and simulation with experimental and clinical methods used in cardiac electrophysiology. I am a Medical Research Council Fellow since October 2007 and I have been awarded a Wellcome Trust Senior Research Fellowship in Biomedical Sciences from October 2013.
Cardiac arrhythmias are disturbances in the rhythm of the heart caused by disease, drugs or mutations. They are a major cause of concern because they affect a large part of the population, they can be lethal and they result in high socio-economic cost. Cardiac arrhythmias can take many forms and little is known about how they start or how to diagnose and treat them optimally. The mechanisms of cardiac arrhythmias are complex, multiscale and non-linear, involving numerous multiscale feedback loops from the gene to the whole body level. An additional difficulty is that arrhythmias are apparently random and rare events, and therefore investigating their causes is even more challenging, particularly in human. For all those reasons, we use computational modelling and simulation as an ideal methodology to augment and refine the knowledge that can be obtained from experimental and clinical research, and to help overcoming some of the challenges involved in dissecting the key mechanisms underlying cardiac arrhythmias.
Our paper "Bridging models, experiments and simulations: An integrative approach to validation in computational cardiac electrophysiology", recently published in American Journal of Physiology Heart Circ, analyses the conceptual framework of this methodology, and describes the processes, data and knowledge involved in the construction and validation of whole-ventricular models in cardiac electrophysiology.
My research is currently funded by the Medical Reseach Council (Career Development Award, Industry Partnership Award and MRC Centenary Award), the European Comission, the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council and Janssen Pharmaceutica. My research has also attracted funding from the Royal Society, British Heart Foundation, Wellcome Trust and Leverhume Trust. I am a lecturer and supervisor at the Doctoral Training Centres at University of Oxford (www.dtc.ox.ac.uk) and I am a member of the Editorial Board of the open access journal PLoS ONE (http://www.plosone.org). The cardiac models and open source software Chaste for cardiac electromechanical simulations can be downloaded from www.cs.ox.ac.uk/chaste.
My research builds on a collaborative effort involving both academic and industrial partners, and in particular:
- Andras Varro and Istvan Baczko at the University of Szeged (experimental human cardiac electrophysiology);
- Igor Efimov at the University of Washington in St Louis (experimental human and rabbit cardiac electrophysiology);
- Annamaria Carusi at the University of Copenhagen (philosophy of science and technology in medicine);
- Peter Taggart, Ben Hanson, Pier Lambiase at the Heart Hospital and University College London (clinical cardiac electrophysiology);
- Barbara Casadei, Erica Dall' Armelina at the Department of Cardiovascular Medicine, John Radcliffe Hospital (cardiac electrophysiology, cardiac magnetic resonance MRI);
- Esther Pueyo and Pablo Laguna at the University of Zaragoza (signal processing of the electrocardiogram);
- David Abramson at Monash University (NIMROD, software for sensitivity analysis);
- Pharmaceutical companies Janssen Pharmaceutica, AstraZeneca and GlaxoSmithKline.
- Alex Quinn, Peter Kohl (combined experimental and modelling methods) at Imperial College London.
- Vicente Grau (image analysis), Kevin Burrage, David Kay, David Gavaghan, Joe Pitt-Francis (computational mathematics, numerical methods, scientific computing) at the University of Oxford.
- Wellcome Trust Senior Research Fellowship in Biomedical Sciences (2013-2018).
- Medical Research Council Centenary Award (2012-2013).
- Medical Research Council Industrial Partnership Award (2012-2013).
- Medical Research Council Career Development Award (2007-2013).
- Merit Award, Oxford University Computing Laboratory, 2005-2006 and 2008-2009.
- First Prize, Young Investigators Award Competition, Heart Rhythm Society Scientific Sessions, San Francisco, USA, May 2004.
Students and Postdocs’ Awards
- Xin Zhou, Microsoft Research Project Award, Systems Biology Doctoral Training Centre, Oxford, 2012.
- Nejib Zemzemi, Best Poster Award, Computing in Cardiology, Polland, 2012.
- Ciara Dangerfield, EPSRC PhD Prize, 2012.
- Sara Dutta, Best Poster Award, Cardiovascular Network Symposium, Imperial College, 2011.
- Oliver Britton, Best Project Award, Systems Biology Doctoral Training Centre (DTC), Oxford, 2011.
- Mikael Wallman, Second Prize, Student Competition, Department of Computer Science, University of Oxford, 2011.
- Miguel Bernabeu, Best Paper Presentation at Computers in Cardiology, Bologna, Italy, September 2008.
- Simon Li, Best Poster Award at the Life Sciences Interface Doctoral Training Center, Oxford, UK, January 2008.
- Rafel Bordas, Best Project Award at the Life Sciences Interface Doctoral Training Center, Oxford, UK, January 2008.
- Martin J. Bishop, First Prize in the Student Poster Competition at Gordon Conference on Cardiac Arrhythmia Mechanisms, Ventura, California, USA, March 2007.
- Martin J. Bishop, First Prize in the Student Paper Award Competition, International Conference of the IEEE EMBC, New York, USA, September 2006.
Current team members:
- Alfonso Bueno-Orovio (2010- ; OCCAM fellowship),
- Ana Minchole (2011- ; Marie Curie Intra-European Fellowship),
- Ciara Dangerfield (2012- ; EPSRC Plus Prize).
- Mikael Wallman (2013- ; MRC)
- John Walmsley (Expected March 2013)
- Philip Gemmel (Expected March 2013)
- Sara Dutta (Expected October 2013)
- Oliver Britton (Expected October 2014)
- Xin Zhou (Expected October 2015)
- Louie Cardone-Noott (Expected October 2015)
- Alex Quinn (2008-2012 -> Assistant professor, Dalhousie University)
- Nejib Zemzemi (2010-2011 -> Tenure-track researcher at INRIA-Bordeaux, France)
- Xiao Jie (2009-2010-> postdoctoral researcher at University College London, UK);
- Alberto Corrias (2008-2010; -> Tenure-track lecturer at University of Singapore, Singapore);
- Esther Pueyo (-> 2007-2008; Assistant Professor at Universidad de Zaragoza, Spain);
- Lucia Romero (2008-09-> Tenure-track lecturer at Universidad Politecnica de Valencia, Spain);
- Philip Prior (2008-09; -> Medical Physicist, Medical College of Wisconsing, USA);
- Mikael Wallman (submitted April 2013)
- Matt Gibb (submitted Oct 2012 --> Freelance/Own Buisiness)
- Ciara Dangerfield (submitted Oct 2012 --> EPSRC Plus Prize at Oxford)
- Rafel Bordas (2007-2011; --> postdoctoral researcher at Oxford Computational Biology Group);
- Miguel Bernabeu (DPhil; 2007-2011 --> postdoctoral researcher at University College London);
- Martin Bishop (DPhil; 2004-2008 --> Wellcome Trust postdoctoral fellowship; 2011- Lecturer at King College London);
- Thushka Maharaj (DPhil; 2004-2007 -> Credit Suisse);
- Thomas Brennan (DPhil; 2006-2009 -> postdoctoral researcher at Oxford Bioengineering).
- Carlos Sanchez (Rotation, University of Zaragoza, 2010, 2011, 2012);
- Ivan Cenci (Rotation, University of Bologna, 2009);
- Chris Arthurs (short project, DTC, 2009 -> DPhil. Oxford Computational Biology Group);
- Michal Plotkowiak (short project, DTC, 2008 -> DPhil. Oxford Computational Biology Group);
- Simon Li (short project, DTC, 2006);
- Dan Stokeley (short project, DTC, 2004 -> DPhil. Oxford Computational Biology Group);
Blanca was born in Valencia, Spain, where she attended the Lycee Francais de Valencia, and graduated as an Electronics Engineer from the Universidad Politecnica de Valencia, Spain, in 1997. She then started a PhD in the Integrated Laboratory of Bioengineering supervised by Prof. Chema Ferrero and at the same time became an Assistant Professor in Electronics and Biomedical Instrumentation at the Universidad Politecnica de Valencia. During her PhD studies, she investigated the causes of extracellular potassium accumulation during acute ischaemia using a mathematical model of single cell action potential. After graduating in 2001, she joined Prof. Natalia Trayanova's group at Tulane University in New Orleans (now at Johns Hopkins University), as a Postdoctoral Research Fellow. Her research focused on the mechanisms of cardiac vulnerability to electric shocks in normal and globally ischemic hearts. In 2004, she won the First Prize in the Young Investigator Award Competition in Basic Science of the Heart Rhythm Society. After spending two years in New Orleans, she joined Oxford University in August 2004, as a Senior Postdoctoral Fellow with Prof. David Gavaghan, funded by the Integrative Biology Project. Since 2007, she holds a Medical Research Council Career Development fellowship and she has also been awarded funding by European Comission, Royal Society, EPSRC, Wellcome Trust, BHF and Leverhulme Trust.
Experimentally−calibrated population of models predicts and explains inter−subject variability in cardiac cellular electrophysiology
O. Britton‚ A. Bueno−Orovio‚ K. Van Ammel‚ HR. Lu‚ R. Towart‚ DJ. Gallacher and B. Rodriguez
In Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. 2013.
mRNA expression levels in failing human hearts predict cellular electrophysiological remodelling: A population−based simulation study
J. Walmsley‚ JF. Rodriguez‚ GR. Mirams‚ K. Burrage‚ IR. Efimov and B. Rodriguez
In PLoS ONE. Vol. 8. No. 2. Pages e56359. 2013.