Dr Halina Dobrzynski

Senior Lecturer

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General research profile

Structure, function and clinical relevance of the cardiac conduction system, including the atrioventricular ring and outflow tract tissues

It is now over 100 years since the discovery of the cardiac conduction system, consisting of three main parts, the sinus node, the atrio-ventricular node and the His–Purkinje system. The system is vital for the initiation and co-ordination of the heartbeat. Over the last decade, immense strides have been made in our understanding of the cardiac conduction system. It has been shown that the system has a unique embryological origin, distinct from that of the working myocardium, and is more extensive than originally thought with additional structures: atrio-ventricular rings, a third node (retro-aortic node) and pulmonary and aortic sleeves. It has been shown that the expression of ion channels, intracellular calcium-handling proteins and gap junction channels in the system is specialised (different from that in the ordinary working myocardium), but appropriate to explain the functioning of the system, although there is continued debate concerning the ionic basis of pacemaking. We are beginning to understand the mechanisms (fibrosis and remodeling of ion channels and related proteins) responsible for dysfunction of the system (bradycardia, heart block and bundle branch block) associated with atrial fibrillation and heart failure and even athletic training. Equally, we are beginning to appreciate how naturally occurring mutations in ion channels cause congenital cardiac conduction system dysfunction. Finally, current therapies, the status of a new therapeutic strategy (use of a specific heart rate lowering drug) and a potential new therapeutic strategy (bio-pacemaking) are of great interests globally.


Halina Dobrzynski obtained a B.Sc. in Biological Sciences (Physiology) in 1996 and a Ph.D. in Bimoedical Sciences (Cellular Cardiology) in 2000. Both degrees were obtained from the University of Leeds, UK. For five years she worked as a post-doctoral fellow at the University of Leeds. In 2005 she moved to the University of Manchester as a Lecturer in Cardiac Biology. Since August 2011 she is a Senior Lecturer in Cardiac Biology.

Other posts held:

2008-2012  Visiting Researcher, Washington University, St. Louis, USA

2005   Visiting Research Associate, National Institutes of Health, Baltimore, USA

2005  Visiting Research Associate, Washington University, St. Louis, USA

2002  Visiting Research Associate, Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland, USA

1996  Guest Ph.D. student, Research Institute of Environmental Medicine, Nagoya University, Japan

1995  Research Assistant, Department of Histopathology, Leeds General Infirmary, UK

Further information

Teaching and administrative duties:

2011-present   Radiation Protection Supervisor, Institute of Cardiovascular Sciences

2010-present   Member of Research Ethics Committee

2010-present   Tutor for Professional and Personal Development, Medical Students, Phase 1

2009-present   Interviewing Medical School Applicants, School of Medicine

2009-present   Tutor and Lecturer on MRes, Institute Cardiovascular Sciences

2005-2015       Problem Based Learning Tutor to Medical Students, School of Medicine

2005-present   Supervisor of undergraduate project students and MRes students, Faculty of Medical, Biological and Human Sciences

2005-present   Teaching histology, immunocyto/histochemistry, light and confocal microscopy, molecular biology and general cardiac biology/physiology to undergraduate and postgraduate students and Postdoctoral Fellows within Manchester University, nationally and internationally.

Reviewer for scientific:

2015-present               Journal of Anatomy

2010-present               American Journal of Physiology

2009-present               Experimental Physiology

2009-present               Histology & Histopathology

2008-present               Circulation

2008-present               Circulation Research

2007-present               Journal of Cellular Physiology

2006-present               Cardiovascular Research

2005-present               Journal of Molecular & Cellular Cardiology

Member of Editorial Board:

2013-present               Frontiers in Physiology 

External grant referee:

2011-present               The Netherlands Organisation for Health Research and Development (ZonMw)

2015 (December)             The Welcome Trust, UK                                                             


2014-present               Member of British Society of Cardiovascular Research and International Society of Heart Rhythm

2014-present               Member of European Society of Cardiology

2016-present               Member of Physiological Society 


Best pre-clinical teacher of 2014, University of Manchester

Public engagement:

1. Science Ambassador's Dinner sponsored by The Ogden Trust to promote science for young people in Bury, 26 March 2014, Bury Grammar School 

2. Sixth Form Lecture on "What makes the heart beat?"

- Tuesday 29 November, 2011, Burnley Sixth Form College, UK

- Thursday 28 November, 2013, Cheadle College, UK

- Tuesday 4 February 2014, Bury Grammar School Girls, UK

3. Community Open Day, Saturday 6 July 2013, University of Manchester, UK

4. The Body Experience, Saturday 16 March 2013, Manchester Museum, UK

5. Manchester Science Spectacular, Saturday 29 October 2011, Manchester Museum, UK

Research Networks and Beacons


  • Cardiac conduction system, Imaging, Electrophysiology, Ageing, Heart Failure, biology medicine and health

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