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.