University of Wisconsin
School of Medicine and Public Health

Alvarado Research

Francisco J. Alvarado, PharmD, PhD | Regulating Cardiac Ion Channels

Francisco J. Alvarado, PharmD, PhD

Francisco Alvarado, PharmD, PhD, is an NIH-funded basic and translational investigator in cellular and molecular cardiac electrophysiology. His research uses unique animal models and state-of-the-art technology to understand the mechanisms underlying cardiac arrhythmia and heart failure with the goal of developing new therapies to treat patients.

Dr Francisco J. Alvarado's Faculty Biography

Calcium-Dependent Arrhythmias and Structural Cardiomyopathies

Dr. Alvarado's research aims to understand the mechanisms of heart disease and to develop safe and effective treatments that improve the life of patients.

His lab's primary focus is the regulation of cardiac ion channels, with an emphasis on diseases arising from their dysfunction, especially calcium-dependent arrhythmias and structural cardiomyopathies. Calcium is required for heart function through a process called excitation-contraction coupling; yet, dysregulation of calcium homeostasis is known to participate in heart disease.

Dr. Alvarado's team applies state-of-the art imaging, electrophysiology and cell biology tools to understand how mutations affecting proteins involved in excitation-contraction coupling, such as ryanodine receptor 2, the major intracellular calcium channel in the heart, participate in the development of disease.

photo of Dr. Francisco Alvarado and member of lab team in front of computer screens in darkened lab

Research Team

Post-Doctoral Fellow

Scientist 1

Holly Dodge, BS

Holly Dooge, BS

Research Specialist

Undergraduate Students

  • Andy Molter
  • Anna Lindstrom

Active Projects

Calcium-Dependent Arrhythmias in Heart Disease
Calcium-dependent arrhythmiasin heart disease Additional


Calcium waves in cardiomyocytes isolated from two mouse models expressing ryanodine receptor 2 channels harboring mutations identified in human patients.

Regulation of Cardiac Function by Sympathetic Function
Regulation of cardiac function by sympathetic function


Mouse cardiomyocytes stained for total ryanodine receptor 2 (RyR2, green), RyR2 channels phosphorylated at S2030 (red) and a nuclear dye (DAPI, blue).

Modulators of Ryanodine Receptor 2 to Treat Disease
Modulators of ryanodine receptor 2to treat disease


Cartoon representation of RyR2 bound to the channel agonists caffeine, ATP and calcium.

photo of Dr. Francisco Alvarado and member of lab team at the lab bench


  1. Zheng J, Dooge HC, Perez-Hernandez M, Zhao YT, Chen X, Hernandez JJ, Valdivia CR, Palomeque J, Rothenberg E, Delmar M, Valdivia HH, Alvarado FJ. Preserved cardiac performance and adrenergic response in a rabbit model with decreased ryanodine receptor 2 expression. Journal of molecular and cellular cardiology. 2022;167:118-28. PMID: 35413295.
  2. Kim JC, Perez-Hernandez M, Alvarado FJ, Maurya SR, Montnach J, Yin Y, Zhang M, Lin X, Vasquez C, Heguy A, Liang FX, Woo SH, Morley GE, Rothenberg E, Lundby A, Valdivia HH, Cerrone M, Delmar M. Disruption of Ca(2+)i Homeostasis and Connexin 43 Hemichannel Function in the Right Ventricle Precedes Overt Arrhythmogenic Cardiomyopathy in Plakophilin-2-Deficient Mice. Circulation. 2019;140(12):1015-30. PMID: 31315456; PMCID: PMC6746608.
  3. Alvarado FJ, Bos JM, Yuchi Z, Valdivia CR, Hernandez JJ, Zhao YT, Henderlong DS, Chen Y, Booher TR, Marcou CA, Van Petegem F, Ackerman MJ, Valdivia HH. Cardiac hypertrophy and arrhythmia in mice induced by a mutation in ryanodine receptor 2. JCI Insight. 2019;5:e126544. PMID: 30835254; PMCID: PMC6483635.

View Dr. Francisco Alvarado’s publications on NCBI My Bibliography

Positions Available

The Alvarado Lab is always looking to recruit motivated undergraduate and graduate students and postdocs interested in cardiac research. Please send your CV and a brief description of your research experience and interests to Dr. Alvarado at

Funding Support

Dr. Alvarado is a Centennial Scholar in the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health. His research is funded by the National Heart Lung and Blood Institute of the National Institutes of Health.