Dr. Brian O’Rourke is a Professor in the Division of Cardiology, Department of Medicine of the Johns Hopkins University.
Dr. O’Rourke obtained his undergraduate degree in Biochemistry from The Pennsylvania State University in 1983 and pursued his interest in cardiac muscle function as a graduate student in the Department of Physiology of Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia (PhD 1990). His primary advisor there, Dr. Diane Reibel, as an alumnus of the renowned cardiac energetics laboratory of Dr. James Neely, spurred his interest in energy metabolism and its relationship to cardiac function.
In parallel, Dr. O’Rourke worked in the laboratory of Dr. Andrew P. Thomas, whose methodological and theoretical expertise provided invaluable insight into intracellular Ca2+ signaling, mitochondrial metabolism, non-linear dynamics and cellular imaging. These skills were applied to the study of adrenergic signaling in single heart cells using a unique high-speed fluorescence imaging method.
His career at Johns Hopkins began with postdoctoral training in the laboratory of Eduardo Marbán, MD, PhD, under whose mentorship Dr. O’Rourke developed as a skilled cellular electrophysiologist. During this time, Dr. O’Rourke made several important discoveries revealing the close interrelationship between the energetic status of the cell and the electrophysiological and Ca2+ handling properties of the cardiomyocyte. He has continued to pursue this theme throughout his independent research career.
Over the course of his career, Dr. O’Rourke has been most interested in developing cross-disciplinary teams of collaborators with various backgrounds to approach the complex issues involved in understanding the heart as a system, and fortunately, he has been in an environment with like-minded and talented people. Dr. O’Rourke currently directs a Program Project on mitochondrial function in cardiac disease, holds an NIH MERIT award, and is principal investigator on two other grants.