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David S. Auerbach, Ph.D.

Contact Information

Phone Numbers

Office: (585) 276-3018

Fax: (585) 276-1530


Professional Background

Dr. Auerbach biomedical research training began during his undergraduate studies at Skidmore College, where he majored in Human Physiology, with a minor in Law & Society. He continued his training, and earned a MS from the Department of Physiology & Biophysics at Case Western Reserve University. Next, he conducted his doctoral studies in the laboratory of Dr. Jose Jalife, a pioneer in cardiac arrhythmia mechanisms, at SUNY Upstate Medical University. He provided key insights into the substrates (structural heterogeneities) and triggers (alterations in ion channel expression and function) for the initiation of lethal cardiac arrhythmias. Subsequently, he completed a 3 year postdoctoral fellowship at the University of Michigan under the mentorship of Dr. Lori Isom, an expert in genetic sodium channel diseases. Dr. Auerbach demonstrated that in severe genetic forms of epilepsy, there are not only alterations in electrical function in the brain, but also in the heart, resulting in both seizures and cardiac arrhythmias. In 2014 Dr. Auerbach joined URMC and began to develop an independent line of research that employs a multisystem approach to studying ion channel diseases of the brain and heart.


Patients with genetic ion channel diseases develop electrical disturbances in the brain (seizures) and heart (arrhythmias) that can lead to sudden death. Dr. Auerbach explores the mechanisms for multisystem genetic ion channel diseases. During his training at the University of Michigan he showed that in severe genetic forms of epilepsy, in addition to seizures, there are alterations in cardiac electrical function, with a high rate of cardiac arrhythmias. Arrhythmias provide one potential mechanism for the high rate of sudden death in epilepsy.

Now approaching these neuro-cardiac investigations in the opposite direction, he is assessing the co-prevalence and severity of seizures and cardiac arrhythmias in a classically studied cardiac disease, called Long QT Syndrome (LQTS.) LQTS is a genetic disease, characterized by cardiac electrocardiographic pathologies, arrhythmias, and a high risk of sudden death. Mutated genes in LQTS1-3 are expressed in the heart and brain, and seizures have been reported in LQTS patients. Ongoing studies using both LQTS patient registries and animal models of LQTS are being used to establish new clinical and mechanistic insights into this dual system disease, and the potential intricate crosstalk between the brain and heart.

The LQTS registry provides a unique and powerful resource to advance LQTS and epilepsy research. The Rochester-based LQTS Registry is the largest (>18,000 subjects) and most deeply annotated LQTS database in the world. It contains detailed clinical and genetic information from LQTS patients, plus affected and unaffected family members. It offers temporal resolution of the disease progression, including the dates of seizures, syncopes, arrhythmias, start/end of medications, sudden death, and records/results from clinical and genetic tests.

Animals carrying the same mutation as LQTS patients with vs. without seizures, and state of the art in vivo/in vitro techniques (e.g., radiotelemetry ECGs & single cell electrophysiology), provide excellent tools to interrogate direct vs. indirect mechanisms for the neuro-cardiac disease manifestations and progression.


Faculty Appointments


BA | Skidmore College

MS | Case Western Reserve University
Physiology & Biophysics

PhD | SUNY Upstate Medical University (Mentor: Jose Jalife, MD)


Clinical Science Young Investigator Award
Sponsor: American Physiological Society Cardiovascular Section
Location: Boston, MA

Sponsor: American Epilepsy Society

1st Place, Research Poster Competition
Sponsor: Aab Cardiovascular Research Institute , University of Rochester

Young Investigator Travel Award
Sponsor: Grass Foundation – American Epilepsy Society
Location: Washington DC

Young Investigator Award in Cardiac Channelopathies
Sponsor: SADS Foundation & Peds. Congenital Electrophysiology Societ
Location: Boston, MA

2nd Place, Research Poster Presentation Competition
Sponsor: • Gordon Research Conference: Cardiac Arrhythmia Mechanisms
Location: Santa Barbara, CA

Research Poster Presentation Award Recipient
Sponsor: A. Alfred Taubman Medical Research Instit. Scientific Symposiu
Location: University of Michigan

Research Poster Award Recipient
Sponsor: • FASEB – Ion Channel Regulation
Location: Steamboat, CO

Gordon K. Moe Young Investigator Award Recipient
Sponsor: Upstate New York Cardiac Electrophysiology Society
Location: Ithaca, NY

Basic Cardiovascular Science Abstract Travel Award Recipient
Sponsor: American Heart Association
Location: Chicago, IL

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Journal Articles

Auerbach DS, McNitt S, Gross RA, Zareba W, Dirksen RT, Moss AJ. "Genetic biomarkers for the risk of seizures in long QT syndrome." Neurology.. 2016 Oct 18; 87(16):1660-1668. Epub 2016 Jul 27.

Carrell ST, Carrell EM, Auerbach D, Pandey SK, Bennett CF, Dirksen RT, Thornton CA. "Dmpk gene deletion or antisense knockdown does not compromise cardiac or skeletal muscle function in mice." Human molecular genetics.. 2016 Oct 1; 25(19):4328-4338. Epub 2016 Aug 13.

Stables CL, Auerbach DS, Whitesall SE, D'Alecy LG, Feldman EL. "Differential impact of type-1 and type-2 diabetes on control of heart rate in mice." Autonomic neuroscience : basic & clinical.. 2016 Jan 0; 194:17-25. Epub 2015 Dec 17.