Hyperpolarization activated pacemaker channel regulation of cardiac automaticity and rhythm during postnatal development

Cardiac arrhythmias (an irregular heartbeat) can cause heart attacks and stroke or sudden death, especially in infants. Pacemaker cells in the heart beat spontaneously, unlike other heart cells, and set the heartbeat frequency. Dr. Jacob Ross is studying the role of a critical protein, the pacemaker channel, found in these cells, which causes them to spontaneously beat and may also regulate electrical activity in other areas of the heart. In particular, the pacemaker channel may regulate the ventricle, the heart’s main pumping chamber. Dr. Ross is examining the molecular and electrical properties of pacemaker channels and investigating how adrenaline-like substances affect these proteins in the ventricle. This research could provide a better understanding of basic cardiac function, which could improve prevention and treatment of cardiac arrhythmias.