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Center For Applied and Computational Mathematics

Cardiac Electrophysiology

Heart arrhythmia
Normal heart

Faculty: Elizabeth Cherry


We study the propagation of electrical waves in the heart. These waves, which arise naturally about once every second, signal the heart to contract in a coordinated manner to pump blood throughout the body. Disruptions to normal wave propagation can occur in the context of cardiac disease or other factors and can give rise to either short-lived or persistent arrhythmias that may compromise the heart's pumping function. Many of these arrhythmias are characterized by the presence of one or more spiral waves that rotate faster than the heart's intrinsic pacemaker. We aim to understand the mechanisms of initiation, maintenance, and termination of these arrhythmias by integrating mathematical modeling and simulation with both traditional experiments and theoretical analysis. Our work has encompassed the development of robust mathematical models of cardiac electrical dynamics; the creation of efficient numerical algorithms for solving the equations describing wave propagation using computer simulations; analysis of the nonlinear dynamics of cardiac tissue; and the application of modeling and simulation to analyze specific physiological problems, such as identifying physiological mechanisms underlying particular arrhythmias and low-energy defibrillation. Along with mathematics, our studies draw from a number of disciplines, including biology and physiology, computer science, biological physics, imaging science, nonlinear dynamics, and complex systems.

Link: The Virtual Heart


  1. Modeling wave propagation in realistic heart geometries using the phase-field method, FH Fenton, EM Cherry, A Karma, and WJ Rappel, Chaos 15 (2005), 013502.

  2. A tale of two dogs: Analyzing two models of canine ventricular electrophysiology, EM Cherry and FH Fenton, American Journal of Physiology 292 (2007), H43-55.

  3. Pulmonary vein reentry -- Properties and size matter: Insights from a computational analysis, EM Cherry, JR Ehrlich, S Nattel, and FH Fenton, Heart Rhythm 4 (2007), 1553-1562.

  4. Minimal model for human ventricular action potentials in tissue, A Bueno-Orovio, EM Cherry, and FH Fenton, Journal of Theoretical Biology 253 (2008), 544-560.

  5. Dynamics of human atrial cell models: Restitution, memory, and intracellular calcium dynamics in single cells, EM Cherry, HM Hastings, and SJ Evans, Progress in Biophysics and Molecular Biology 98 (2008), 24-37.

  6. Characterization of multiple spiral wave dynamics as a stochastic predator-prey system, NF Otani, A Mo, S Mannava, FH Fenton, EM Cherry, S Luther, and RF Gilmour Jr., Physical Review E 78 (2008), 021913.

  7. Visualization of spiral and scroll waves in simulated and experimental cardiac tissue, EM Cherry and FH Fenton, New Journal of Physics 10 (2008), 125016.

  8. Termination of atrial fibrillation using pulsed low-energy far-field stimulation, FH Fenton, S Luther, EM Cherry, NF Otani, V Krinsky, A Pumir, E Bodenschatz, and RF Gilmour Jr., Circulation 120 (2009), 467-476.

  9. Realistic cardiac electrophysiology modeling: Are we just a heartbeat away?, EM Cherry and FH Fenton, The Journal of Physiology 588 (2010), 2689.

  10. Cardiac cell modelling: Observations from the heart of the cardiac physiome project, M Fink, SA Niederer, EM Cherry, FH Fenton, JT Koivumaki, G Seemann, R Thul, H Zhang, FB Sachse, D Beard, EJ Crampin, and NP Smith, Progress in Biophysics and Molecular Biology 104 (2011), 2-21.

  11. Models of cardiac tissue electrophysiology: Progress, challenges and open questions, RH Clayton, O Bernus, EM Cherry, H Dierckx, FH Fenton, L Mirabella, AV Panfilov, FB Sachse, G Seemann, and H Zhang, Progress in Biophysics and Molecular Biology 104 (2011), 22-48.

  12. Verification of cardiac tissue electrophysiology simulations using an N-version benchmark, SA Niederer, E Kerfoot, A Benson, MO Bernabeu, O Bernus, C Bradley, EM Cherry, R Clayton, FH Fenton, A Garny, E Heidenreich, S Land, M Maleckar, P Pathmanathan, G Plank, JF Rodriguez, I Roy, FB Sachse, G Seemann, O Skavhaug, and NP Smith, Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London, in press.

  13. Mathematical models of atrial mechano-electric coupling and arrhythmias, EM Cherry, in Cardiac Mechano-Electric Coupling and Arrhythmias, ed. Kohl P, Sachs F, Franz MR, in press.


Flavio Fenton (Cornell University)
Robert Gilmour, Jr. (Cornell University)
Stefan Luther (Max Planck Institute for Dynamics and Self-organization)
Roman Grigoriev (Georgia Institute of Technology)
Predrag Cvitanovic (Georgia Institute of Technology)