Anita Alvarez Laviada is a Research Associate within the Cardiovascular Department of Myocardial Function at the National Heart & Lung Institute (NHLI). She is a member of two research teams lead by Dr Keneth T MacLeod and Professor Julia Gorelik.
Anita joined Imperial College in 2012 after completing a PhD in Biophysics at the UCL’s Department of Neuroscience Physiology and Pharmacology. Having studied structure and function of neuronal calcium channels, she transferred her expertise to the function of the heart at the cellular and molecular level. An electrophysiologist by training, Anita’s interest centres on how heart undergoes remodelling and how its function gets modulated following range of cardiovascular pathologies. By tracking changes occurring at the single cell and molecule level, she has been investigating the impact of heart failure, arrhythmias and ischaemic disease on the whole organ level. Anita employs state-of-the-art scanning ion conductance microscopy, patch-clamp electrophysiology and imaging to examine specific ion channels and proteins affected by these disorders, as well as to elucidate pharmacological profiles of anti-arrhythmic and anti-fibrotic agents.
Her previous work was focused on molecular pharmacology of class I anti-arrhythmic agents in the context of Catecholaminergic Polymorphic Ventricular Tachycardia (CPVT). CPVT is an inherited arrhythima associated with sudden cardiac death, which occurs as a result of acute emotional stress or following physical exercise. This multi-disciplinary project was supported by the British Heart Foundation.
Our research is centred on investigation of cellular mechanisms behind heart contractility under physiological conditions and in cardiac dysfunction. Together with our colleagues and collaborators, we use acute cardiac myocytes to monitor sarcoplasmic reticulum-mediated calcium release in cellular models of cardiac arrhythmias and heart failure.
We employ a variety of biophysical techniques including: calcium indicator dyes with live-cell confocal imaging, in vitro whole-cell electrophysiology, intracellular recordings, immunocytochemical approaches and ion-scanning conductance microscopy for detailed structural measurements, combined with patch-clamping for simultaneous functional assessments.
Anita joined Cardiac Cell Ionic Regulation and Functional Microscopy groups after completing her doctoral training at the department of Neuroscience, Physiology and Pharmacology, University College London. Her project with Professor Annette Dolphin, was centred on cellular function and plasma membrane topology of voltage-gated calcium channels. In 2005, following completion of BSc in Pharmaceutical Science, she moved to King’s College London for her postgraduate studies.
Confocal micrograph of a single Left ventricular cardiomyocyte
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et al., 2018, The adhesion function of the sodium channel beta subunit (beta 1) contributes to cardiac action potential propagation, Elife, Vol:7, ISSN:2050-084X