Cardiovascular Research

As part of the Cardiovascular and Sport and Exercise Sciences group, we were ranked 1st in the UK for world leading 4* research in the 2014 Research Excellence Framework (REF).

Cardiac arrhythmia


Our research

The Cardiovascular group is part of the Cardiovascular and Sport and Exercise Sciences group.

Our research, delivered under six themes, focuses on the function of the heart in health and disease, with additional activity in the area of skeletal muscle. From the level of the single molecule through to the function of the intact heart in vivo, complemented by multi-scale in silico modelling, we deliver world-class research with translational relevance.

We work closely and share three research themes (Skeletal muscle in health and diseaseAgeing and the cardiopulmonary systemExercise and the failing heart) with the Sport and Exercise Sciences (SES) group and use an interdisciplinary approach to answer collective research questions.

We also provide world-class, research-led education through our undergraduate degrees.

Research themes

Contraction of cardiac and skeletal muscle depends on the precise arrangement and interaction of elements of the excitation-contraction machinery and of the signalling pathways that regulate these.

More on Molecular machinery of muscle contraction

Cardiac arrhythmias occur when the heart’s electrical activity becomes chaotic and it can no longer pump blood efficiently. Ageing, certain conditions such as heart failure, and even intense exercise training can increase the risk of arrhythmias.

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Cardiac adaptions through remodelling and repair occur at multiple levels and throughout life. One highly-contested area of research is the extent of myocardial regeneration that takes place following myocardial damage, and the role of stem or progenitor cells in this.

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Skeletal muscle is vital for life, underpinning locomotion, respiration, and metabolism, yet we still poorly understand its response to exercise and disease.

More on Skeletal muscle in health and disease

Age is a major risk factor for the majority of cardiopulmonary complications. In part this is because many cardiovascular and pulmonary diseases are progressive. However, even healthy ageing is associated with a reduction in blood vessel and lung function, with a sharp decline in maximal cardiac output and aerobic capacity as people advance into their 60s and beyond.

More on Ageing and the cardiopulmonary system

Heart failure is a complex syndrome with impairment of cardiac, respiratory, musculoskeletal and vascular function, all of which contribute to reduced quality of life and mortality. Exercise has established benefits in patients with heart failure but debate continues as to the most appropriate exercise modality.

More on Exercise and the failing heart


Contact one of our supervisors if you are interested in any of our current opportunities on Find A PhD.

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View latest post doc opportunities

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Head of School for Biomedical Sciences

More on Prof Karen Birch

Cardiovascular Group Leader

More on Dr Sarah Calaghan