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Peter Kohl MD, PhD, FHRS

Senior Fellow of the British Heart Foundation, Chair in Cardiac Biophysics and Systems Biology (National Heart and Lung Institute, Imperial College London), and Reader in Cardiac Physiology (Computing Laboratory, University of Oxford)
Cardiac Mechano-Sensitivity, from Ion Channel to Man.

Divisional Research Themes

  • Cardiovascular Science
  • Integrative Physiology

Cardiovascular subthemes

Group Members

  • Mr Carlos Afonso, DTC DPhil Student, Oxford
  • Miss Rebecca Bayliss, BHF DPhil Student, Oxford
  • Dr Christian Bollensdorff, Senior Research Fellow, London
  • Dr Gil Bub, Senior Research Fellow, Oxford
  • Dr Rebecca Burton, Post-doctoral Research Scientist, Oxford
  • Mrs Katherine Fletcher, Senior Project Manager, Oxford
  • Dr Alan Garny, Post-doctoral Research Scientist, Oxford
  • Mr Tobias Hannes, MD, Researcher and DPhil Student, Oxford
  • Dr HongHua Jin, Research Scientist, London
  • Miss Skye Kelly-Barrett, Personal Assistant, London
  • Mr Peter Lee, DTC DPhil Student, Oxford
  • Dr Alex Quinn, EPSRC Post-doctoral Research Fellow, London
  • Miss Ken Wang, DTC DPhil Student, Oxford
Web Personal Website
Tel 01865 272114
PA Mrs Katherine Fletcher
Email (PA)
Contact address Department of Computer Science, Wolfson Building, Parks Road, Oxford, OX1 3QD, United Kingdom
Department Computing Laboratory

Cardiac Mechano-Sensitivity, from Ion Channel to Man


The heart is an electrically controlled mechanical pump – somewhat like an electric motor.  Like such a motor in ‘dynamo mode’, cardiac cells can translate mechanical events into electric current.  This Mechano-Electric Feedback is important both in the normal function of the heart, and in the context of induction and termination of arrhythmias. 

Our lab has been fortunate to enter this exciting field relatively early, linking basic research to clinical applications, developing novel techniques and concepts, and helping to advance the subject via organization of symposia, focused journal issues and editing the first textbook on Cardiac MEF (Kohl P, Sachs F and Franz MR (eds): Cardiac mechano-electric coupling and arrhythmias: 2nd edition 2011; OUP).

We have pioneered a number of novel experimental techniques (most recently, subjecting individual cardiac cells to work-loop like mechanical conditions by dynamically controlling both length and tension of the cell) and developed equipment of prospective clinical relevance, including devices for mechanical pacing/cardioversion and training devices for manual application pf pre-cordial impacts.

Current Research Programme

The lab investigates cardiac mechano-sensitivity at various levels of structural and functional integration, from ion channel to patient.  Model systems include isolated cardiac myocytes and fibroblasts, standard and patterned cell cultures grown on elastic membranes, isolated cardiac tissue, isolated heart, and patient data.  Methods range from patch clamp and calcium transient/spark measurements, to optical mapping, confocal/multi-photon microscopy, and histological work (EM, serial 3D reconstruction of cardiac tissue architecture).  We combine development of novel experimental techniques (three patents in recent years) with ‘wet’ and ‘dry’ experimentation and mathematical re-integration of data / model development.

Further information can be found at:


Peter studied Medicine and Biophysics at the Moscow Pirogov Institute (1981-1987) and, after post-graduate training and research at the Berlin Charité (PhD 1990, Facharzt 1991), he joined the Cardiac Electrophysiology Chair of Professor Denis Noble at Oxford (1992). In 1998, Peter set up the Oxford Cardiac Mechano-Electric Feedback lab, initially as a Royal Society Research Fellow, and subsequently as a Senior Fellow of the British Heart Foundation. While at Oxford, he held a Research Fellowship at Keble College (2002-2004) and was the Tutorial Fellow in Biomedical Sciences at Balliol (2004-2010). In 2010, Peter took up the newly established Chair in Cardiac Biophysics and Systems Biology at Imperial College London. In view of his extensive network of collaborative links with Oxford teams, built over nearly 20 years of research here, he retains an association with the University, and our BHF CRE, via a co-appointment at the Department of Computer Science.