Auckland Bioengineering Institute

Cardiac myometer

The cardiac myometer group discuss research developments.

With each beat of the heart, its cells spark a brief pulse of calcium, which triggers force development and cell shortening, funded by expenditure of energy with its attendant liberation of heat and consumption of oxygen. Researchers need to be able to measure all these five variables simultaneously, while subjecting isolated samples of heart tissue to realistic contraction patterns that mimic the pressure-volume-time loops experienced by the heart with each beat.

With the aid of a $830,000 Marsden Grant, we are working to achieve this by developing an innovative miniaturised testing device: The Cardiac Myometer.

With this device, we will be able, for the first time, to follow all five of these sub-cellular events, beat by beat, in living heart tissue under either normal or diseased conditions.

Our research team comprises bio-, mechanical- and mechatronics-engineers, physicists and physiologists:       

  • Callum Johnston has developed new temperature sensors (publications 1-3) for the measurement of muscle heat production, and has performed measurements of the cardiac heat-stress relationship in trabeculae at 37°C.
  • Alex Anderson has created a new scanning force-length apparatus, and has implemented real-time imaging techniques (publication 4) for measuring sarcomere length, simultaneous with measurements of calcium ion concentration.
  • Ming Cheuk has integrated into the Cardiac Myometer an Optical Coherence Tomography system to capture muscle geometry (publication 5), and is coordinating our various measurements in a central electronic control system.
  • Dr June-Chiew Han assists our researchers in preparing specimens, and in conducting experiments in the instrument.
Cardiac Myometer
Detail of the Cardiac Myometer measurement systems. Top left inset: Overview of instrument.


In the media

Our Changing World: Cardiac Myometer
Thursday 4th July 2013

Researchers and graduate students


Professor Ian Hunter
Phone: +1 617 253 3921


Dr Bryan Ruddy
Phone: +64 9 923 3010 (DDI)


Past members

2010-2014 Callum Johnston (PhD candidate)

Funding partners

  • Vice-Chancellors Strategic Development Fund, The University of Auckland
  • Faculty Research Development Fund, The University of Auckland
  • The Marsden Fund


  1. Johnston CM, Nielsen PMF, Hunter IW, Taberner AJ,. A vapor pressure thermometer for use in muscle microcalorimetry. Engineering in Medicine and Biology Society,EMBC, 2011 Annual International Conference of the IEEE; 2011 Aug. 30 2011-Sept. 3 2011. DOI 10.1109/IEMBS.2011.6090094
  2. Johnston CM, Nielsen PMF, Taberner AJ, Hunter IW. Temperature sensors for use in muscle microcalorimetry. Sensing Technology (ICST), 2011 Fifth International Conference on; 2011 Nov. 28 2011-Dec. 1 2011. DOI 10.1109/ICSensT.2011.6136968
  3. Johnston CM, Ruddy BP, Nielsen PMF, Taberner AJ. Thermopile power measurement for heat balance calorimetry. 8th International Conference on Sensing Technology (ICST 2014); 2014; John Moores University, Liverpool. England.
  4. Anderson AJ, Nielsen PMF, Taberner AJ. An investigation into the viability of image processing for the measurement of sarcomere length in isolated cardiac trabeculae. Engineering in Medicine and Biology Society (EMBC), 2012 Annual International Conference of the IEEE; 2012 Aug. 28 2012-Sept. 1 2012. DOI 10.1109/EMBC.2012.6346242
  5. Cheuk ML, Lippok N, Dixon AW, Ruddy BP, Vanholsbeeck F, Nielsen PMF. Optical Coherence Tomography Imaging of Cardiac Trabeculae. 36th Annual International Conference of the IEEE Engineering in Medicine and Biology Society; 2014; Chicago, USA.