Novel insight and therapeutic options for heart rhythm disorders.

KU Leuven
June 27 2017
Position Type
Full Time
Organization Type

For the Laboratory of Ion Channel Research we are looking for an ambitious and highly motivated scientist, with a keen interest in cell physiology. The Laboratory of Ion Channel Research is part of the Department of Cellular and Molecular Medicine of the Medicine Faculty at the KU Leuven. We study the structure, function and therapeutical potential of ion channels. We integrate molecular insight in ion channel function with genetic and cellular studies, to gain insight in disease mechanisms and the therapeutic potential of ion channels. Our direct goal is to translate our discoveries into biotechnological and medical applications.

The Vennekens Lab combines cutting edge biophysical techniques and translational studies to understand ion channel disorders, which are related to intracellular cell signaling and electrical behavior of cells, and to identify novel drugs to treat these disorders. Currently the lab focusses, amongst others, on cardiac arrhythmias. A detailed molecular understanding of these events will lead to better treatment options and novel drugs, which are urgently needed in this field.

Cardiac arrhythmias are life-threatening disturbances of the heart rhythm. In this project we will develop an innovative, multi-disciplinary and state-of-the-art approach to study the molecular basis of Ca2+ dependent arrhythmias in the human heart. Ca2+ dependent arrhythmias cause ventricular tachycardia, which is the immediate precursor of ventricular fibrillation and sudden cardiac death in conditions such as heart failure (HF) and catecholaminergic polymorphic ventricular tachycardia (CPVT). The high socio-economic and clinical impact of this field of research is illustrated by the fact that yearly up to 0.5M people die of abnormal heart rhythms in the USA and Europe. There is a clear need in the clinic for novel genetic markers and therapeutic options to treat and prevent this type of condition, and this need largely originates from the fact that the cellular mechanism of initiation and maintenance of ventricular tachycardia remain largely unclear in human cardiac muscle. Therefore, therapeutic intervention is often limited and risk stratification leaves many patients at risk unrecognized. We plan in vitro and in vivo experiments using state of the art biophysical, fluorimetric and physiological technology, aimed at identifying novel ion channels which are active in the cells of cardiac muscle, in order to determine their importance for cardiac arrhythmogenic disorders and their therapeutic potential. We anticipate from this project novel fundamental insight, with the immediate goal to translate these findings to relevant pathophysiological conditions.

This job comes from a partnership with Science Magazine and Euraxess

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