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Laboratory of Dirk Gillespie, PhD

This lab has three main focuses, both studied by modeling and simulations.

Calcium-induced calcium release (CICR) in cardiac skeletal muscle

During heart muscle contraction, Ca2+ is released using the positive feedback CICR mechanism. We use Monte Carlo-like simulations of the diffusion of Ca2+ and the stochastic opening of ryanodine receptor (RyR) ion channels to model the CICR mechanism. With the simulations, the goal is to infer the basic mechanisms of how they work (e.g., how does release terminate) and to understand how changing RyR properties affects Ca2+ release (e.g., by the application of an antiarrhythmic drug).

Ca2+ movement during heart muscle contraction

Ca2+ and other ions move into and out of organelles during contraction. By modeling this, the goal is to understand the function of organelle potassium and chloride channels. While these channels have been known for decades, their exact role during muscle contraction is still unclear.

Nanofluidics and Its applications

Nanofluidic devices are an important area of nanotechnology that show promise for many applications like molecular sensing. In the devices studied in this lab, two charged walls separated by 1 to 100 nm are used to drive ions and create a current. We are studying many of the fundamental physics of these devices, which are currently not well understood using state-of-the-art theories, with an eye towards applications like energy conversion (applied pressure into voltage) and separating analytes with similar characteristics for more efficient laboratory analysis and detection.


Dirk Gillespie, PhD

Rush University
Department of Physiology & Biophysics
Jelke Building
1750 W. Harrison St., Room 1289
Chicago, IL 60612

Phone: (312) 942-3089