ERC funding for Michel Haïssaguerre, professor of cardiology

Solving the major challenge of preventing sudden cardiac death is at the heart of the HELP project, led by Michel Haïssaguerre, professor at the University of Bordeaux, Chairman and Co-founder of the Electrophysiology and Heart Modeling Institute (Liryc) and Head of the department of cardiology, electrophysiology and cardiac pacing of Bordeaux University Hospital. Supported by the University of Bordeaux, this significant project will benefit from an ERC Advanced Grant 2021 of €2.5 million over a period of 5 years.

  • 19/05/2022

On April 26th, the European Research Council announced the list laureates who have been awarded an ERC Advanced Grant 2021, which rewards top-level researchers who demonstrate leadership in their scientific area of expertise. These grants focus on ambitious and adventurous research projects exploring the knowledge frontier and addressing innovative scientific issues or challenges. The €626 million ERC-2021-AdG call will fund almost 250 projects from over 1,700 submissions.

Prof. Michel Haïssaguerre, Chairman and Co-founder of Liryc, Head of the department of cardiology, electrophysiology and cardiac pacing at Bordeaux University Hospital, has been awarded a €2.5 million 5-year grant for the HELP project, supported by the University of Bordeaux. He was accompanied by the teams at Liryc, with the support of the University of Bordeaux’s Europe Unit within the Proposals & Projects Support Office (SMSP - "Montage et Suivi de Projets") in applying for this ERC.

Preventing 320,000 to 400,000 sudden cardiac deaths each year in Europe

The objective of the HELP project is to address the major public health challenge of preventing sudden cardiac death, caused by ultra-rapid ventricular arrhythmias. Sudden cardiac death causes 320,000 to 400,000 deaths each year in Europe and is responsible for 10% of the total adult mortality worldwide. However, this challenge is paradoxical: multiple very efficient treatments are currently available to help prevent these deaths, but unfortunately we do not know who the individuals at risk are. The program aims to develop a non-invasive external heart mapping therapy system, capable of identifying these high-risk patients.

The unique approach proposed to achieve this goal will involve a combination of two methods of electrocardiographic mapping and ultrasonic pacing, to detect critical signals present at the micro-scale of the heart within the origin area of arrhythmias. The teams involved with Prof. Haïssaguerre (Oliver Bernus, Rémi Dubois, Bruno Quesson, Edward Vigmond) will develop the identification of discriminating parameters, optimal technologies and clinical methods from groups of patients monitored by the teams at the Bordeaux University Hospital. This would be a major step forward in reducing deaths from arrhythmias - often affecting young people - worldwide.

The HELP project will significantly advance the understanding of the mechanisms of cardiac arrhythmias, and define new diagnostic standards, which could potentially replace current ECG techniques. The ability to detect and influence cardiac electrical signals will also have a significant impact on the management of other cardiac pathologies, allowing earlier diagnosis and better referral to drug or interventional therapies.

The project will improve our understanding of sudden cardiac death, which is a public health priority, and potentially revolutionize electrocardiographic methods that have been unchanged for decades. Above all, it will help prevent these tragic deaths, which occur suddenly and are usually experienced as 'illegitimate' in apparently healthy subjects.

Professor Michel Haïssaguerre — Chairman and Co-founder of Liryc

This ERC Advanced Grant 2021 will finance various positions (PhD students, post-doctoral fellows, research assistants) as well as state-of-the-art technologies, both in fundamental and clinical research.

Being laureate of such a highly competitive and challenging call for proposals once again underlines the excellence of Professor Michel Haissaguerre's work, as well as his exceptional national and international scientific reputation.

About Michel Haïssaguerre

Michel Haïssaguerre was born in Bayonne (France). He is currently professor at the University of Bordeaux and Head of the department of cardiology, electrophysiology and cardiac pacing of Bordeaux University Hospital (Haut-Lévêque Cardiological Hospital).

His scientific and clinical work focuses on cardiac electrophysiology. He is particularly recognized for his remarkable contributions in the field of cardiac fibrillation. He has shown that fibrillations, considered as dynamic and very complex phenomena, nevertheless derive from localized sources. He was the first to identify the existence of foci in the pulmonary veins at the origin of auricular fibrillations, the most frequent arrhythmia.

His team has proposed a technique for isolating these outbreaks, a worldwide reference treatment today. He has also demonstrated the role of Purkinje cells at the source of lethal ventricular fibrillations and the possibility of treating them. Finally, in the enigmatic cases of 'sudden unexplained deaths', his teams have been able to demonstrate by high-resolution mapping their origin in localized abnormal sites; precisely one of the targets of the ERC Advanced program.

Michel Haïssaguerre has published more than 900 publications in major cardiology journals dealing mainly with endocardial radiofrequency ablation of tachyarrhythmias. 


Michel Haïssaguerre benefits from an exceptional national and international scientific reputation. He is the recipient of prestigious distinctions such as the Robert Debré Prize (1982), the Nylin Swedish Prize (2002), the Best Scientist Award Grüntzig (2003, European Society of Cardiology), the Pioneer in Cardiac Electrophysiology award 2004 by the North American Society of Pacing and Electrophysiology (NASPE) – currently Heart Rhythm Society, and the 2009 Mirowski Award for outstanding work in clinical cardiology and electrophysiology.

In 2010, he received the Lefoulon Delalande Prize (Institut de France), the Louis Jeantet Medicine Prize, and became a member of the Academy of Sciences. In 2012, he became a member of the Academy of Medicine. The European Society of Cardiology awarded him the ESC Gold Medal in 2015 for his exceptional career in the field of cardiology.

In 2022, he will receive 3 Awards from the German, European and North American Cardiology Societies.


Elodie Gaillacq
Communications Manager - Liryc

Christiane Andriamandroso
Grant Officer - Liryc