Northeastern University

Cardiac Systems

Cardiac disease is a major cause of premature death. More than half of cardiac disease deaths are sudden and result from a spatiotemporally chaotic wave activity that prevents the main chambers of the heart from pumping blood normally. Developing a fundamental understanding of the mechanisms that trigger and maintain life-threatening cardiac arrhythmias is crucially important for designing antiarrhythmic therapies that successfully reduce mortality.

Collaborating with biologists and clinicians, Karma's group is using theoretical models and computer simulations to elucidate basic mechanisms of arrhythmias from subcellular scales to the whole organ level. Recent work has focused on understanding period doubling oscillations of voltage and calcium activity known as "alternans" that predispose the heart to lethal rhythm disorders and developing new approaches to control those disorders.