Georgia Tech and Emory Researchers Win Award for Arrhythmia Research

Flavio Fenton and Neal Kumar Bhatia receive award

Flavio Fenton and Neal Kumar Bhatia receive award

Electrical signals make the heart  contract, but when those normal signals are disturbed, they can develop spiral waves that can lead to dangerous cardiac arrhythmias. 

Georgia Institute of Technology and Emory University researchers have received a 2023 Georgia Clinical & Translational Science Alliance (CTSA) award. The collaborators received the Team Science Award of Distinction for Early Stage Research for their recent work using live explanted human hearts to better understand arrhythmias.

The award recognizes multidisciplinary research, with a winning team comprised of Georgia Tech physicists and Emory electrocardiologists and cardiac surgeons. The team is led by Flavio Fenton, a professor in the School of Physics, and Neal Kumar Bhatia, an assistant professor of medicine at Emory.

The work captures high-resolution visualizations of the spiral waves that create arrhythmias from live human hearts taken from recent transplant patients. This access brings a new understanding to deadly arrhythmias such as tachycardia and fibrillation.

“This highly interdisciplinary study requires extremely diverse expertise and thus could not be done without a strong collaboration among cardiologists, physicists, and computational scientists,” Fenton said. “This award recognizes the great partnership we have between Emory and Georgia Tech that has allowed us to investigate live human hearts in the laboratory.”

The Emory team includes Shahriar Iravanian, M.D.; Michael Burke, M.D.; Faisal M. Merchant, M.D.; Anand D. Shah, M.D.; Mikhael F. El-Chami, M.D.; Mani Daneshmand, M.D.; and David Vega, M.D. The Georgia Tech group consists of School of Computational Science and Engineering Associate Professor Elizabeth Cherry, physics Research Scientist Ilija Uzelac, and graduate students Henry Chionuma and Mikael Toye.

“This award also acknowledges the potential of these studies for clinical applications and for improving patient treatments,” Fenton said.

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Tess Malone, Senior Research Writer/Editor