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NIMBioS Investigative Workshop

Heart Rhythm Disorders

Group photo.

Topic: Mathematical Modeling of Heart Rhythm Disorders

Meeting dates: December 3-5, 2014

Location: NIMBioS at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville

Alena Talkachova, Biomedical Engineering, Univ. of Minnesota
John Wesley Cain, Mathematics and Computer Science, Univ. of Richmond, Virginia
Xiaopeng Zhao, Mechanical, Aerospace, and Biomedical Engineering, Univ. of Tennessee, Knoxville

Co-sponsored by: Institute of Biomedical Engineering (iBME), Univ. of Tennessee

Objectives: The heart is a complex nonlinear system, whose function involves the interaction between mechanical contractions of cardiac muscles and waves of electrical excitation propagating in the heart. Heartbeats are the result of the nonlinear coupling between these electrical and mechanical functions of the heart. Cardiovascular diseases, which are often associated with heart rhythm disorders, are the leading cause of death in the Western world. A complete understanding of heart rhythm disorders requires a complex system-level approach that incorporates the interaction between electrical, chemical, and mechanical activities of the heart on a variety of biological scales: ion channels to single cells to multi-cellular tissue to organ. Given the difficulty of monitoring and controlling all these factors in the lab, mathematical modeling provides a useful tool for this purpose. The goal of this workshop is to unite researchers from different disciplines – clinicians, mathematicians, physicists, biomedical engineers, and industrial practitioners – in order to better understand the existing mathematical challenges and to explore new directions in modeling of cardiovascular dynamics. As a result of the workshop, we will identify challenges and frontiers in mathematical modeling, statistics and prediction, dynamics and control, stability analysis, as well as data acquisition and analysis for heart rhythm related diseases. We will also foster new interdisciplinary collaborations.

Descriptive flyer

Evaluation Report

Heart Rhythm Disorders WordPress Site

Presentations were available for viewing via live streaming during the workshop. A live chat took place via Twitter with the hashtag #cardiacWS.
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Playlist of online videos

photo. Summary Report. This workshop reviewed models and mechanisms on spatiotemporal dynamics of cardiac arrhythmias, where a particular focus was on onset, prediction, as well as control of cardiac alternans. Alternans is a harbinger of ventricular fibrillation, the leading cause of death in the US. The workshop also reviewed techniques on multiscale nonlinear dynamics analysis of heart rate variability and those on characterization of surface ECG for fibrillation therapy and management. Discussions were organized into three subjects: 1) mathematical modeling of cardiac electrophysiology; 2) control of cardiac arrhythmias; and 3) clinical needs and applications of modeling and analysis tools.



Gao J, Hu J, Liu F, Cao Y. 2015. Multiscale entropy analysis of biological signals: a fundamental bi-scaling law. Frontiers in Computational Neuroscience. [Online]

NIMBioS Investigative Workshops focus on broad topics or a set of related topics, summarizing/synthesizing the state of the art and identifying future directions. Workshops have up to 35 participants. Organizers and key invited researchers make up half the participants; the remaining participants are filled through open application from the scientific community. Open applicants selected to attend are notified by NIMBioS within two weeks of the application deadline. Investigative Workshops have the potential for leading to one or more future Working Groups. Individuals with a strong interest in the topic, including post-docs and graduate students, are encouraged to apply. If needed, NIMBioS can provide support (travel, meals, lodging) for Workshop attendees, whether from a non-profit or for-profit organization.

A goal of NIMBioS is to enhance the cadre of researchers capable of interdisciplinary efforts across mathematics and biology. As part of this goal, NIMBioS is committed to promoting diversity in all its activities. Diversity is considered in all its aspects, social and scientific, including gender, ethnicity, scientific field, career stage, geography and type of home institution. Questions regarding diversity issues should be directed to Dr. Ernest Brothers, the NIMBioS Associate Director for Diversity Enhancement ( You can read more about our Diversity Plan on our NIMBioS Policies web page. The NIMBioS building is fully handicapped accessible.

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NSF logo. NIMBioS is sponsored by the National Science Foundation through NSF Award #DBI-1300426, with additional support from The University of Tennessee, Knoxville. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.
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