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Blanca Rodriguez receives new Wellcome Trust funding for computational cardiovascular research


Professor Blanca Rodriguez is the recipient of a substantial award (£1.6 million) from the Wellcome Trust that funds new research within her Computational Cardiovascular Science team at Oxford and at the Barts Hospital in London. The funding is a renewal of Blanca’s Wellcome Senior Research Fellowship. The research project ‘Human in silico clinical trials in post myocardial infarction: mechanistic investigations into phenotypic electromechanical variability and response to treatment’ will include collaborations with pharmaceutical companies and academic colleagues in the Barcelona Supercomputing Centre and other universities.  

In a summary of the new research, Blanca explains, ‘Patients surviving a myocardial infarction suffer from a damaged heart, and are at risk of sudden death and impaired cardiac pumping action. Risk stratification for sudden death is conducted using primarily ventricular pumping efficiency. However a significant number of sudden deaths occur in patients with relatively preserved ejection fraction, and patients with low ejection fraction often do not experience serious arrhythmic events. In this fellowship, I aim to investigate mechanisms explaining the links between arrhythmic risk and mechanical dysfunction in post-myocardial infarction patients, and how they are modulated by pharmacological treatments.

We will construct computer models of populations of human ventricles to simulate their electrophysiological and mechanical function, considering variability in ionic, cellular and tissue properties. We will calibrate and validate them using rich experimental and clinical datasets. We aim to ultimately inform the identification of more effective methods for risk stratification, and to improve treatment of patients at risk.’