30 November 2018

CARIM-based EMPATHY project granted by ERA-CVD


ERA-CVD aims to organize European cardiovascular research conducted and funded across countries via the national funding bodies, allowing research groups to jointly work on specific challenges, exchange ideas, and benefit from cross-border expertise. This year, their joint transnational call focused on enabling Early Career Scientists to build multidisciplinary consortia with a clear translational research approach in the field of cardiovascular disease. 

One of the 14 projects funded by ERA-CVD is the “Electromechanical Presages of Sudden Cardiac Death in the Young: integrating imaging, modelling and genetics for patient stratification (EMPATHY)” project. This multidisciplinary project is initiated and will be coordinated by Joost Lumens (Dept. of Biomedical Engineering) and includes two other European partners: Assoc. Prof. Kristina Haugaa, Oslo and Assoc. Prof. Lia Crotti, Milan. Together, they received 800 k€ for three years of research. 

The EMPATHY project aims to unravel the complex pro-arrhythmic electro-mechanical interactions in the apparently healthy yet vulnerable hosts of genetic cardiac diseases by combining three highly complementary scientific fields: clinical cardiac imaging (OSLO), genetics and cellular electrophysiology (MILAN), and multi-scale computational modelling (MAASTRICHT). We expect that EMPATHY will reveal novel genetic and electro-mechanical signatures of arrhythmogenic diseases, enabling earlier disease recognition, personalized therapeutic intervention, and effective prevention of sudden cardiac death in the young.

The funding allocated to the Maastricht team will be used for the development of a fully coupled, multi-scale computational model of cardiac electro-mechanics. This model will couple the dynamics of cellular electrophysiology to cardiac mechanics and circulatory hemodynamics. This unique tool will be used to study electro-mechanical coupling across scales (i.e. cell, tissue, organ and circulation) during exercise in the normal and the diseased heart. The Maastricht team consists of Jordi Heijman (CARDIO), Aurore Lyon (BME), Joost Lumens (BME), and a newly appointed PhD student (both BME and CARDIO).