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Professor David Paterson, in collaboration with the UCLA’s Professor Kalyanam Shivkumar, has been awarded a prestigious Leducq International Network of Excellence Program Award of $8 million (£6.3M) to set up a major new transatlantic network linking world leading researchers from the USA and Europe to develop ‘Bioelectronics for neurocardiology diagnosis and therapeutics’.

Left | Confocal image of intrinsic neurons in mouse heart labelled with a multicolour adeno-associated viral technique. Right | Before birth the sympathetic innervation has already formed a dense network and penetrated the myocardial wall. From: 'Herring, N., Kalla, M. & Paterson, D.J. The autonomic nervous system and cardiac arrhythmias: current concepts and emerging therapies. Nat Rev Cardiol 16, 707–726 (2019). Left was reproduced with permission of Wiley-VCH. Right courtesy of J. Zhao and M. Mommersteeg, University of Oxford

The autonomic nervous system (ANS) is a major controller of the cardiovascular system and a key player in the pathogenesis of heart disease. ANS dysfunction can lead to pathologically increased heart rate through increased sympathetic and reduced parasympathetic tone, contributing to arrhythmias and sudden cardiac death (SCD), which claims up to 12 million lives/year globally.

An international team of researchers headed up by Oxford University’s Professor David Paterson and UCLA’s Professor Kalyanam Shivkumar have put forward a landmark proposal to diagnose and treat heart disease with cutting-edge neuromodulation technologies that directly tackle ANS alterations. They propose that directly altering adverse ANS activity will effectively treat arrhythmias and prevent the progression of heart failure.

The core UCLA-Oxford hub will work in partnership with John Hopkins University, Northwestern University, and the University of Bordeaux as a part of this network.

Read the full story on the Department of Physiology, Anatomy and Genetics (DPAG) website.