Dr Katja Gehmlich's research focuses on “football players collapsing on the pitch”. In particular, she looks into cardiomyopathies, which can be associated with life-threatening arrhythmias and sudden cardiac death.
Gemlich's research looks into disease mechanisms of cardiomyopathies and the role of mechanical stress in the healthy and disease heart. Gemlich's hypothesis is that a normal response to exercise (called physiological hypertrophy) is de-regulated in hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, i.e. it happens in the absence of triggers. In the laboratory, she mimics the mechanical stress the heart experiences by culturing heart cells on rubber membranes and subjecting them to radial stretch. Gemlich aims to find out which proteins and signalling pathways are involved in the response to stretch and what goes wrong in cardiomyopathies.