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Photo of Dr. Brian O'Rourke

Brian O'Rourke, Ph.D.

Vice Chair of Basic and Translational Research, Department of Medicine
Professor of Medicine



  • Vice Chair of Basic and Translational Research, Department of Medicine
  • Professor
  • Director, Bernard Laboratory of Fundamental Research in Preventive Cardiology
  • Professor of Medicine

Centers & Institutes


Contact for Research Inquiries

Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine

720 Rutland Avenue
Ross 1060
Baltimore, MD 21205 map
Phone: 410-614-0034
Fax: 410-502-5055

Research Interests

Heart Failure; Ischemia-Reperfusion; Arrythmias; Molecular manipulation of cardiac excitability; Mitochondria; Proteomics; Computational Biology; Oscillatory behavior of energy metabolism; Cardioprotection; Excitation-Contraction coupling in heart failure; Regulation of ion channels by energy metabolism in heart cells


Dr. Brian O’Rourke is a Professor of Medicine at the Heart and Vascular Institute. He uses an integrative approach to study the biophysics, energetics and physiology of cardiac cells in normal and diseased states.

A consistent theme of his work has been that mitochondrial dysfunction plays a key role in the mechanisms of arrhythmogenesis, contractile impairment and energetic abnormalities during the progression of heart failure and sudden cardiac death.  Applying a systems biology approach, employing cardiac cell physiology, “omics”, and computational biology, his group has revealed the interplay between ion gradients, redox/ROS balance and energy supply, which, when disrupted, can trigger nonlinear mitochondrial responses that scale to cause global cardiac dysfunction and fatal arrhythmias. Development of therapies that improve the bioenergetic and redox functions of mitochondria is an area of increasing interest in the cardiovascular field, and his group has been a key contributor advancing these ideas.

Dr. O’Rourke holds a bachelor’s degree in Biochemistry from Pennsylvania State University and a Ph.D. in physiology from Thomas Jefferson University. After completing a fellowship within the Cardiology Division at Johns Hopkins University, he joined the faculty in 1993. He has served as Associate Editor of Circulation Research and Chaired the Electrical Signaling, Transport and Arrhythmias Study Section of the NHLBI. He currently serves as the Vice Chair of Basic and Translational Research for the Department of Medicine. more

    Additional Information

  • Education +
    • B.S., Pennsylvania State University (Pennsylvania) (1983)
    • Ph.D., Thomas Jefferson University College of Graduate Studies - Philadelphia (Pennsylvania) (1990)

    Additional Training

    Thomas Jefferson University, Foerderer Fellowship; Thomas Jefferson University, NIH training grant; Johns Hopkins University, Cardiology Division
  • Research & Publications +

    Research Summary

    Regulation of ion channels by energy metabolism and reactive oxygen species in heart cells
    Oscillatory behavior of energy metabolism
    Molecular mechanisms of heart failure and Sudden Cardiac Death
    Mitochondrial ion channels and their role in protection against ischemic injury
    Two-photon and confocal fluorescence imaging

    Lab Website: O'Rourke Lab

    CORE Facilities

    Mass Spectometry and Proteomics Core

  • Academic Affiliations & Courses +

    Graduate Program Affiliation

    Cellular and Molecular Medicine Biomedical Engineering  
  • Activities & Honors +
  • Videos & Media +
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