Disputation: Ilse van Herck

Doctoral candidate Ilse van Herck at the Department of informatics, Faculty of Mathematics and Natural Sciences, is defending the thesis Biophysical and pharmacological properties of small conductance calcium-activated potassium channels for the degree of Philosophiae Doctor.

Picture of the candidate

Photo: Private

The University of Oslo is closed. The PhD defence and trial lecture will therefore be fully digital and streamed directly using Zoom. The host of the session will moderate the technicalities while the chair of the defence will moderate the disputation.

Ex auditorio questions: the chair of the defence will invite the audience to ask ex auditorio questions either written or oral. This can be requested by clicking 'Participants -> Raise hand'. 

Trial lecture

Title: "Computational Physiology of Hippocampus Dependent Learning and Memory"

Main research findings

When you want to move your arm, your brain sends an electrical signal to your muscles to tell them to contract and move. Similarly, each chamber in the heart knows when to contract through an electrical signal. This signal originates from charged ions crossing the membrane of cells in the heart through ion channels. The opening and closing of ion channels can be modulated to alter the propagation of the electrical signal. Changes in gating of ion channels can cause disease, but also be a potential treatment.

One ion channel in particular, the small conductance calcium-activated potassium (SK) channel, is of great interest for the treatment of atrial fibrillation. Inhibition of the SK channel shows promising treatment results in cells and animal models. However, it is complicated to test how the channel is modulated and affects the disease in humans. Therefore, this dissertation presents a combination of new experimental data and consecutive development of computational models of the SK channel and its modulation. Two different compounds inhibit the SK channel via the same main mechanism, but differ significantly in affecting other SK channel components. This behavior was observed in experiments and replicated in computational models enabling simulations and further research.

Adjudication committee:

  • Professor Heike Wulff, University of California, Davis, USA

  • Associate professor Jonathan Silva, Washington University, St. Louis, USA

  • Professor Are Magnus Bruaset, Department of Informatics, University of Oslo and Simula Research Laboratory, Norway


  • Professor Aslak Tveito, Department of Informatics, University of Oslo and Simula Research Laboratory, Norway
  • Professor Andrew Edwards, Simula Research Laboratory / University of California, Davis, USA
  • Research Professor Mary Maleckar, Simula Research Laboratory, Norway
  • Dr. Jussi Koivumäki, Tampere University of Technology, Finland
  • Dr. Hermenegild Arevalo, Simula Research Laboratory

Chair of defence

  • Professor Andreas Austeng, Department of Informatics, UiO

Contact information to Department: Anniken R. Birkelund

Publisert 12. mai 2021 14:43 - Sist endret 27. mai 2021 12:05