Christopher A. Ahern

Professor of Molecular Physiology and Biophysics

University of Iowa Carver College of Medicine
Department of Molecular Physiology and Biophysics

 Anniversary brochure contribution by Christopher Ahern



  • BSc, Chemistry, University of Wisconsin
  • PhD, Physiology, University of Wisconsin
  • Fellow, American Heart Association
  • Fellow, NIH Cardiovascular Research
  • Fellow, Farber Institute for Neuroscience
  • Postdoctoral Fellow, Physiology, Jefferson Medical College
  • Established Investigator, American Heart Association


Education/Training Program Affiliations:

  • Department of Molecular Physiology and Biophysics PhD
  • Iowa Neuroscience Institute


Research Summary:

Our current research focus is on the function and pharmacology voltage-gated sodium channels that drive the rapid upstroke of the action-potential throughout the body. We find motivation in the observation that inherited or acquired functional defects in these integral membrane proteins is associated with cardiac arrhythmia, epilepsy, and pain syndromes. In the lab, we work at the interface of membrane biophysics and chemical biology. Our particular expertise is in the synthesis and expression channels expressed with custom synthesized non-natural amino acids and the general application of chemical biological approaches to the study of ion channels. We have had success in expressing synthetic amino acids in many channel and receptor types for pharmacological studies of ligand and drug interactions as well as structure function relationships.


Current Project:

Sodium channels as regulators of electrical signalling in the cardiovascular and nervous system.


Main research fields:

chemical biology, protein structure and engineering, ligand-receptor binding analysis