Department of Medical Physiology
Division of Heart & Lungs

The Department of Medical Physiology is part of the Division of Heart & Lungs of the University Medical Center Utrecht. Since 2003 the head of department is prof. dr. Marc Vos. Our department operates much along the lines of the physiology we study; showing tight integration between research topics and our teaching roles in various bachelor, master and graduate school courses. The main topic of our research is cardiac physiology and remodeling of the heart in disease.

Alexander Numan building located at Yalelaan 50, Utrecht

Cardiac physiology

The heart can respond to changing demands of the body. When a fast response in cardiac performance is needed, the neuro-humoral system (i.e. nerves innervating the heart) activates, resulting in a change in heart rate and contractile force. If the change in demand persists and becomes chronic, longer-term changes in the heart occur. This process is called ventricular remodeling and involves changes in the molecular biology of the heart. Gene expression patterns change in order to optimize the electrophysiological and mechanical characteristics of the heart, and also increase the size of the heart.

Ventricular remodeling however, may also lead to the development of heart rhythm disturbances. This is the subject of our research that spans the whole range of cardiac electrophysiology; from human patient to heart cell in a petri dish. Especially, we are interested in understanding how ventricular remodeling can lead to initiation of the heart beat at improper locations (triggered activity). To improve prediction of rhythm disorders caused by ventricular remodeling, we are developing electrophysiological biomarkers that identify the individuals at risk and help to prevent occurrence of the rhythm disorder.

History of our department

Our department was established in the mid 19th century and headed by Prof. Dr. FC Donders. The first thesis defense, in 1849, was by Jan Willem Tilanus. In these early years already, the cardiovascular system was amongst one of the research topics of the department as shown by the thesis of Willem Berlin (1850) on the circulatory system of the brain. Up to today, the department was headed by nine different Professors, and approximately 270 theses have been defended (see this poster). Amongst our successful PhD candidates are the, now well known, names of Willem Einthoven, Hartog Hamburger, Karel Wenckebach and Jacob Jongbloed.

Title pages of the PhD theses of Lamers and Einthoven.


To find our publications, follow this link to view our work on Pubmed.


Our department is located at the 4th floor of the Alexander Numan building.

Visiting address:

Yalelaan 50

3584 CM Utrecht

Telephone: +31 8875 58900