The Department of Physiology of the University of Bern is expert in basic cardiac electrophysiology. The department’s focus is on elucidating basic principles underlying normal and disturbed impulse propagation in cardiac tissue and on investigating the mechanisms governing excitation-contraction coupling.
Contact: Professor Stephan
Professor Stephan Rohr (MD, Full Professor of Physiology, Co-Chair of the Dept. of Physiology, University of Bern): The research focus of the Rohr lab is directed at the question of how non-uniform cardiac tissue architectures and stroma-parenchyme interactions as occurring in atrial and ventricular fibrosis, contribute to arrhythmogenesis in diseased heart.
Systematic investigations of the differential contributions of stromal and parenchymal cells to adverse structural and electrical tissue remodeling are based on tissue-engineered cultured preparations with tightly controlled geometry and cellular composition that are complemented by in-silico studies by Prof. J. Kucera and coworkers.
Apart from elucidating general principles governing the dependence of impulse conduction on tissue geometry, the Rohr lab has recently undertaken in-depth investigations of mechanisms underlying induction of arrhythmias by ‘activated fibroblasts’, i.e., myofibroblasts, as appearing during structural remodeling of the heart in the context of infarction, mechanical overload and old age. In this context, they found that myofibroblasts are capable of inducing both slow conduction and ectopic activity and hence may form a cellular compartment contributing to arrhythmogenesis in fibrotically remodeled cardiac tissue.