Harley Kurata wants to contribute to the development of highly specific drugs with low toxicity for treating arrhythmia (irregular heartbeat). He’s focusing on potassium channels, the proteins that play a critically important role in regulating heartbeat. Because it is difficult to study potassium channels in isolated human heart cells, his research involves cloning genes to create these proteins in the laboratory. Kurata’s goal is to reveal how individual parts of the potassium channels are involved in regulating the channels’ function. He hopes the results can be applied to evaluation of current or potential anti-arrhythmia drugs. He also hopes that studying the effects of drugs on individual potassium channels will lead to new and more effective drugs to regulate irregular heartbeat.