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Anna Muszkiewicz awarded the EPSRC Doctoral Prize


Oxford student Anna Muszkiewicz has been awarded the EPSRC Doctoral Prize. During her DPhil project, Anna has constructed multi-scale models of human atrial muscle cells and whole atria to investigate the role of the nNOS protein in human atrial electrophysiology.

Atrial fibrillation (AF) is the most common cardiac arrhythmia. During AF, the two smaller heart chambers – the atria, – quiver instead of contracting, and fail to effectively pump blood. Causes of AF are unclear and effective treatments are missing, imposing a burden to patients and difficulties to clinicians and treatment providers. Furthermore, experimental and clinical investigations are complicated by patient-to-patient differences in cardiac function.

During the EPSRC Doctoral Prize project, Anna will design and conduct in silico drug trials for atrial fibrillation using a population of human whole-atria computer models. The population of whole-atria models will capture patient-to-patient differences in cardiac electrophysiology. The goal of this work will be to investigate the ability of in silico drug trials to explain, identify, and predict different outcomes of pharmacological therapies for AF. The work is expected to have clinical and pharmaceutical applications. The project will involve collaborations with clinical and industrial institutions (Barts Hospital, AnaBios Corporation). The simulations will be performed on Archer, the UK’s national supercomputer.

The EPSRC Doctoral Prize scheme is designed to help universities recruit the best PhD students, awarding them EPSRC support to increase the impact of their PhD, and to improve retention of these students in research careers.

Anna is finishing her DPhil (PhD) project in the Computational Cardiovascular Science group, under the supervision of Professor Blanca Rodriguez and Dr Alfonso Bueno-Orovio (Computer Science, Oxford), as well as Professor Barbara Casadei (Cardiovascular Medicine, Oxford).