Prof Ed White

Prof Ed White


BSc Zoology, University of Wales, Aberystwyth: PhD Zoology, Reading University: PGCE Biology and Outdoor Education, Exeter University: Post-Doc., Oxford University: Lecturer, Université de Tours, France: Lloyds of London and Wellcome Trust Fellow, Lecturer, Senior Lecturer, Reader: University of Leeds. Visiting Professor, L'Instut de Rhythmologie et Modélisation Cardiaque, Université de Bordeaux, France

Research interests

Mechanical stimulation of the heart
Acute mechanical stimulation (e.g. stretch) affects the contractility of cardiac muscle in situations such as exercise, when diastolic ventricular volume is increased. Stretch and adrenergic stimulation are the 2 most important physiological mechanisms for increasing the strength of contraction of the heart. But stretch has also been implicated in the triggering of cardiac arrhythmias and chronic stretch provokes cardiac hypertrophy and eventually heart failure. Thus stretch may be involved in the beneficial effects of regular exercise and the cause of heart attacks, depending upon circumstances. My research group investigates the mechanisms that cause these varied effects on the contractile and electrical activity of the heart (see Fig 1).

Right heart failure
The right ventricle is structurally and functionally different from the left ventricle, it is thinner, operates at much lower pressures and has distinctive pathologies. The right ventricle is much less studied than the left. We are interested in the differences in physiology and pathology between the ventricles. We are currently using an animal model to study changes in contractile and electrical activity of the myocardium in right ventricular failure, linking these to changes in gene expression and in vivo cardiac function. You can listen to more about Prof White's research in this area here:

Comparative Cardiac Physiology
Vertebrate heart design varies from class to class, understanding the differences in physiology between vertebrate classes helps our thinking about mammalian physiology and pathology. In collaboration with colleagues from the University of Manchester we are investigating the cardiac physiology of fish.

Funding and international collaborations
We are funded by grants from The British Heart Foundation, The Medical Research Council and EU. We have overseas research collaborators in France where I am a  visiting Professor,in L'Instut de Rhythmologie et Modélisation Cardiaque,  at the University of Bordeaux; and New Zealand (Auckland). The laboratory has welcomed researchers from Australia, Brazil, Canada, France, Italy, Japan, Poland and UAE.

Available Research Techniques
In vivo: ECG in unrestrained animals by telemetry; pressure:volume relationships of the ventricles.
Isolated whole hearts: Ventricular contractility (developed pressure) and electrical activity (optical mapping, monophasic action potentials)
Single cardiac myocytes:  Myocyte contractility (cell shortening and force development); ionic membrane currents (patch clamping) and intracellular ion concentrations (fluorescence microscopy); cytoskeletal structure (immunohistochemistry and confocal microscopy).
Molecular Biology: measurement of mRNA (real time RT-PCR); protein expression (Western blotting)

A single cardiac myocyte

Figure 1: A single cardiac myocyte about 0.1 mm in length being stretched by carbon fibres. A specialist technique in our lab. is the recording of force and stretch in single cardiac myocytes. Force measurements can be combined with measurements of intracellular calcium or electrophysiology.

Current projects

  • Changes in ion channel activity in right heart failure
  • Role of stretch in right heart failure
  • Cardiac physiology of non-mammalian vertebrates
<h4>Research projects</h4> <p>Any research projects I'm currently working on will be listed below. Our list of all <a href="">research projects</a> allows you to view and search the full list of projects in the faculty.</p>


  • BSc, Univ. Aberystwyth (Zoology)
  • PhD, Univ. Reading (Zoology)
  • PCGE, Univ. Exeter (Biology and Outdoor Education)

Professional memberships

  • The Physiological Society

Research groups and institutes

  • Cardiovascular