Brian O'Rourke, Ph.D.

Headshot of Brian O'Rourke
  • Robert L. Levy Professor in Cardiology
  • Professor of Medicine

Research Interests

Heart Failure; Ischemia-Reperfusion; Arrhythmias; 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 more


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


  • Robert L. Levy Professor in Cardiology
  • Vice Chair of Basic and Translational Research, Department of Medicine
  • Director, Bernard Laboratory of Fundamental Research in Preventive Cardiology
  • Professor of Medicine
  • Professor of Biomedical Engineering

Departments / Divisions

Centers & Institutes



  • 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

Core Facility:

  • Mass Spectometry and Proteomics Core

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

Academic Affiliations & Courses

Graduate Program Affiliation

Cellular and Molecular Medicine Biomedical Engineering  

Patient Ratings & Comments

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