Marquez wins American Heart Association Fellowship

Erica Marquez receives funding to study potassium, calcium channels in the heart

Beth Miller 
Pictured: Marquez
Pictured: Marquez

Erica Marquez, a doctoral student in biomedical engineering in the McKelvey School of Engineering, has received a two-year, $67,388 predoctoral fellowship from the American Heart Association to study ion channels in the heart. 

Marquez, a third-year doctoral student, studies cardio-electrophysiology in the lab of Jon Silva, professor of biomedical engineering. Previously, she conducted diabetes research in the lab of Jeffrey Millman, associate professor of medicine and of biomedical engineering at the School of Medicine.

Recently, Marquez won the Sling Health National Demo Day Pitch Competition at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor for a women's health device, CerVos, after leading a team of women undergraduate students through their Senior Design project. She plans to continue the work on the project.

For the American Heart Association fellowship, Marquez plans to study arrhythmia, or when the heart beats out of sync. Her research examines how a small protein in the heart, encoded by SCN1B (ß1), interacts with antiarrhythmic medications, changing the function of ion channels and effecting the electrical behavior of the heart.

“I am examining this by removing ß1 from iPSC cardiomyocytes, lab-grown heart cells, through gene editing and then treating the cells with antiarrhythmics,” Marquez said. “From there, I can measure how much electrical signal travels through each ion channel compared to normal cells with and without medication. With these experiments, I can discover how ion channels are affected by a lack of ß1 both with and without the presence of antiarrhythmics. If my research succeeds, we will have better understanding of how antiarrhythmics work, leading to better patient care."

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