Dr. Gordon Tomaselli is the chief of the Johns Hopkins Division of Cardiology. He is an expert in the fields of sudden cardiac death and arrhythmias (abnormal heart rhythms). Specifically, Dr. Tomaselli focuses on ion channels, the movement of molecules in and out of heart cells, which generates the electrical impulses that cause the heart to beat. He holds several patents on methods to improve heart function and prevent arrhythmias, including an implantable device for the delivery of cell-derived biomolecules.

Dr. Tomaselli earned his undergraduate degree in biochemistry and chemistry in 1977 from the State University of New York at Buffalo and his medical degree in 1982 from Albert Einstein College of Medicine. He completed his medical training and residency at the University of California at San Francisco (UCSF) in 1985. He served as a research fellow at the UCSF Cardiovascular Research Institute and then a clinical and research fellow at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine before joining the faculty three years later. Since then, he has received numerous awards and served on a variety of boards and committees. Dr. Tomaselli was president of the Cardiac Electrophysiology Society from 2003 to 2005 and president of the American Heart Association from 2011 to 2012

The Tomaselli laboratory studies cardiac electrophysiology at multiple levels of integration from molecules and cells to abnormalities of heart rhythm in patients.

  1. At a molecular level, they seek to understand how ion channel proteins perform their essential tasks, in particular they are interested in a key paradox how these channels permit the flow of millions of ions a second, yet do this with exquisite selectivity (sodium channels allow sodium ions but not similarly sized and charged potassium ions).
  2. Altered regulation of sodium, calcium and potassium channels by important cellular signaling systems which are involved in not only in how the heart conducts electricity but also the force with which it contracts and underlie important heritable and acquired diseases of the heart and skeletal muscle
  3. Modeling diseases of ion channels (channelopathies) by using induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) and differentiating them in heart and skeletal muscle cells. These cells are used to create cardiospheres that are used to "print" three dimensional tissues with a 3D Bioprinter and reseed decellularized tissue matrices with the differentiated stem cells. This will allow us to 3D human tissue models of disease without having to surgically remove biopsies of heart or muscle.  
  4. At the ultimate level of integration they have an ongoing study of the role of implanted defibrillators (ICDs) in patients with diseased, remodeled hearts. The study is referred to as PROSe-ICD (PRospective Observational Study of the ICD in the prevention of sudden death). PROSe-ICD has enrolled nearly 1200 patients all have undergone detailed clinical and electrocardiographic studies as well as having blood collected for performing genetic and proteomic analyses. Over 25% of this cohort has undergone detailed cardiac imaging (MR and CT) and spectroscopy to identify imaging based markers of risk of sudden death. The overarching goal is to better understand the mechanisms of sudden arrhythmic death and to develop better predictors of risk of this devastating outcome.

The Tomaselli lab has been continuously funded by the NIH for over 25 years.