Dr John Gierula

Dr John Gierula


I originally completed my training as a Healthcare Scientist (Clinical Cardiac Physiology) in Leeds in 2001.  In 2008 I began my career as a research cardiac physiologist, under the supervision of Dr Klaus Witte, undertaking a randomised placebo-controlled trial of an upgrade to cardiac resynchronisation therapy (CRT) in patients undergoing pacemaker battery replacement.  In 2015 I became the first cardiac physiologist to be awarded an NIHR Healthcare Scientist Doctoral Fellowship to examine the effects of personalised heart rate rise settings in patients with heart failure and pacemakers. I obtained a PGDip in Healthcare research and was awarded my PhD in 2017. In 2018 I was awarded an NIHR Post-Doctoral research Fellowship to examine the longer term effects of personalised pacemaker heart rate rise settings in patients with heart failure and pacemakers. I have an External Research Program (ERP) from Medtronic Inc. to examine the effects of multi-point pacing (MPP) on cardiac contractility and exercise capacity in patients with heart failure and CRT pacemakers.

I was awarded the 2019 National Healthcare Science Award for Excellence in Research and Innovation.


  • Module Lead, Biological Basis of Healthcare 1 and 2

Research interests

My research interests centre on optimisation of existing pacemaker therapy to improve cardiac function, exercise capacity, quality of life and outcomes for patients with heart failure, and prevention of heart failure in patients with pacemakers implanted for bradycardia. My PhD "Optimisation of pacemaker therapy for cardiac function", awarded in 2017, included a 500 patient study of the markers of left ventricular systolic dysfunction in patients attending a pacemaker battery replacement (JCM, 2015), an algorithm designed to reduce unnecessary right ventricular pacing - resulting in an improvement in cardiac function (Heart, 2014) and the first randomised placebo-controlled trial of upgrade to cardiac resynchronisation therapy (CRT) in patients with a pacemaker implanted for bradycardia attending for battery replacement (Europace, 2013).

In 2016 I was joint 1st author on a comprehensive study of the effects of heart rate rise on exercise capacity in heart failure (JACC, 2016 with accompanying editorial). During my NIHR Doctoral fellowship I described how personalising peak exercise heart rate, based on a non-invasive method of measuring cardiac contractility, improves the short-term exercise capacity of patients with heart failure and pacemakers (JACC-HF, 2018).

My current NIHR Post-Doctoral fellowship is building on the work arising from my previous NIHR fellowship - I am currently examining the effects of my method of programming pacemaker heart rate rise on the longer-term effects on quality of life, exercise capacity and cardiac function in patients with heart failure and pacemakers.  Future work will continue to centre on optimisation of existing pacemaker technology to improves the lives of people with heart failure.


  • PhD
  • PGDip
  • BSc(Hons)

Professional memberships

  • British Society of Echocardiography (BSE)
  • British Heart Rhythm Society (BHRS)

Student education

I am actively involved in teaching on the undergraduate and post-graduate teaching program in Leeds. I am the module lead for Biological Basis of Healthcare 1 and 2 modules, delivered to undergraduate cardiac physiology and audiology students. I also teach on my specialist subjects of heart failure and implantable cardiac devices to cardiac physiology undergraduates and post graduates and supervise a range of research projects.

Research groups and institutes

  • Leeds Institute of Cardiovascular and Metabolic Medicine
  • Clinical and Population Science
  • Multidisciplinary Cardiovascular Research Centre
<h4>Postgraduate research opportunities</h4> <p>We welcome enquiries from motivated and qualified applicants from all around the world who are interested in PhD study. Our <a href="https://phd.leeds.ac.uk">research opportunities</a> allow you to search for projects and scholarships.</p>