Friday 29 Sep 2017Dynamics Seminar: Complex Systems Approach to Atrial Fibrillation

Hiroshi Ashikaga - John Hopkins, Baltimore

LSI Seminar Room B 14:30-15:13

Atrial fibrillation (AF) is a disordered state of cardiac excitation that is a powerful risk factor of stroke and mortality. The standard of care is invasive catheter ablation to eliminate common focal triggers that initiate AF, but it remains far from curative due to a lack of fundamental understanding of the mechanism. Improving the mechanistic understanding of AF to discover new and effective ablation targets is thus an important goal to ameliorate the suffering of 33 million individuals in the world currently affected by AF. Until now, basic research of AF has focused on documenting the behaviors of individual components at microscopic scales, including gene regulation, protein signaling, ion channel, and cellular scales. However, AF is a physical phenomenon occurring on the macroscopic scale as a result of interactions among microscopic components in the multi-scale complex system of the heart. Our understanding of AF is limited to micro-scale behaviors of individual components, and how interactions of microscopic components initiate and maintain AF remains unknown. In our laboratory, we aim to formulate new mathematical models and tools to enable a complex systems approach to controlling AF and apply them to human patients. Specifically, we use information theory and complex network theory to analyse communications between microscopic components to elucidate interactions that lead to AF on the macroscopic scale. I will discuss an overview of recent projects in our laboratory.

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