Virtual Public Lecture - Playing God with Virtual Hearts - Dr Brodie Lawson


Wednesday 26 May, 12pm-1pm AEST


This lecture will be delivered via zoom webinar. Please register below to receive the link.

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Underlying the heartbeat is in fact a rich signalling process, in which cells receive electrical stimulus that triggers them to beat. In the normal heartbeat, these stimuli are waves of excitation that travel through the heart, causing each cell to contract in turn and together produce a coordinated pumping motion. The body then controls the heartbeat by choosing how quickly to initiate these waves ー for example, more rapidly during exercise.

Unfortunately, it's surprisingly easy for this to go wrong. Each heart cell waits for a signal, but can't tell if a signal was legitimately initiated by the body. When this causes coordination to be lost, the result is arrhythmia, in which heart function is impaired or even lost entirely (ventricular fibrillation). Worse, our treatments for these issues remain unacceptably inconsistent. Understanding why antiarrhythmic medicines or surgeries work for some and not others remains a key question in cardiac physiology.

Enter mathematical models, and ACEMS. This talk will show the astounding complexity of one of the body's most important organs, and how through virtual computer simulations, we can come to understand it in new ways that traditional experiments could never reveal.

About the speaker


Dr Brodie Lawson

Brodie obtained his PhD in applied mathematics, creating computer simulations of cell proliferation and migration. The greatest majority of his postdoctoral career has been associated with ACEMS (ARC Centre of Excellence for Mathematical and Statistical Frontiers) one way or another, where he has brought together ideas from computational mathematics, Bayesian statistics, computer graphics and manifold geometry in order to better understand the enduring research problem of signalling dysfunction in the heart.

He now works as a Research Postdoc with QUT's Centre for Data Science, and as an Associate Investigator with ACEMS, collaborating with researchers from the United Kingdom (Oxford University), Brazil and the Czech Republic. The research into creating virtual populations of heart cells that properly represent experimental data, that he led along with ACEMS investigators including Chief Investigator Professor Kevin Burrage, was published in the #3 ranked interdisciplinary journal worldwide, Science Advances.