Robert Plonsey

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Robert Plonsey
Born(1924-07-17)July 17, 1924
DiedMarch 14, 2015(2015-03-14) (aged 90)
Scientific career
FieldsBiomedical Engineering
InstitutionsDuke University

Robert Plonsey (July 17, 1924 – March 14, 2015) was the Pfizer-Pratt University Professor Emeritus of Biomedical Engineering at Duke University. He is noted for his work on bioelectricity.[1]


Plonsey was born in New York City in 1924. He received the B.E.E. degree in electrical engineering from the Cooper Union School of Engineering in New York in 1943, and the M.E.E degree from New York University in 1948. [2] He obtained his PhD from the University of California, Berkeley in 1957. In addition, he completed the first year and a half of the MD curriculum and the Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine (1969–1972).


Plonsey was a professor at Case Western Reserve University from 1968–1983, including a term as chair of the Department of Biomedical Engineering (1976–1980). In 1983, he moved to Duke University. He was a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and was elected as a member of the National Academy of Engineering in 1986 for "the application of electromagnetic field theory to biology, and for distinguished leadership in the emerging profession of biomedical engineering." He retired from Duke in 1996 as the Pfizer Inc./Edmund T. Pratt Jr. University Professor Emeritus of Biomedical Engineering.


Plonsey's research centered on bioelectric phenomena, including the electrical activity of nerves and muscle. With his student John Clark, he derived a mathematical relationship between the transmembrane potential and the extracellular potential produced by a propagating action potential in a nerve axon. [3] [4]

Some of Plonsey's most influential work addressed the electrical properties of the heart, often in collaboration with Roger Barr. They played a role in the development of the bidomain model, a mathematical model of the anisotropic electrical properties of cardiac muscle, [5] [6] and developed a hypothesis of the mechanism for defibrillation based on the idea that individual cardiac cells are depolarized on one end and hyperpolarized on the other during the shock, sometimes known as the saw-tooth model. [7] [8] Plonsey also collaborated with Yorum Rudy to calculate the relationship between body surface and epicardial electrical potentials, [9] and with Frank Witkowski to analyze action potential wave fronts recorded during defibrillation shocks. [10]


Year Award
1979 William Morlock Award from the IEEE Engineering in Medicine and Biology Society
1984 Centennial Medal from the IEEE Engineering in Medicine and Biology Society
1988 ALZA Distinguished Lecturer from the Biomedical Engineering Society (BMES)
1997 Merit Award from the International Union for Physiological & Engineering Science in Medicine
2000 Millennium Medal from the IEEE Engineering in Medicine and Biology Society
2004 Ragnar Granit Prize from the Ragnar Granit Foundation
2005 Theo Pilkington Outstanding Educator Award from the Biomedical Engineering Division of the American Society for Engineering Education
2013 IEEE Biomedical Engineering Award[11]


Plonsey was the author of several books, including:


  1. ^ "Obituary: Robert Plonsey". Retrieved 6 June 2015.
  2. ^ "Contributors". IEEE Transactions on Biomedical Engineering (May): 258. 1972. doi:10.1109/tbme.1972.324131.
  3. ^ J Clark; Plonsey R (1966). "A mathematical evaluation of the core conductor model". Biophysical Journal. 6 (1): 95–112. doi:10.1016/S0006-3495(66)86642-0. PMC 1367927. PMID 5903155.
  4. ^ J Clark; Plonsey R (1968). "The extracellular potential field of a single active nerve fiber in a volume conductor". Biophysical Journal. 8 (7): 842–864. doi:10.1016/S0006-3495(68)86524-5. PMC 1367562. PMID 5699809.
  5. ^ Plonsey R, Barr RC (1984). "Current flow patterns in two-dimensional anisotropic bisyncytia with normal and extreme conductivities". Biophysical Journal. 45 (3): 557–571. doi:10.1016/S0006-3495(84)84193-4. PMC 1434877. PMID 6713068.
  6. ^ Barr RC, Plonsey R (1984). "Propagation of excitation in idealized anisotropic two-dimensional tissue". Biophysical Journal. 45 (6): 1191–1202. doi:10.1016/S0006-3495(84)84268-X. PMC 1434990. PMID 6547622.
  7. ^ Plonsey R, Barr RC (1986). "Effect of microscopic and macroscopic discontinuities on the response of cardiac tissue to defibrillating (stimulating) currents". Medical & Biological Engineering & Computing. 24 (2): 130–136. doi:10.1007/BF02443925.
  8. ^ Plonsey R, Barr RC (1986). "Inclusion of junction elements in a linear cardiac model through secondary sources: Applications to defibrillation". Medical & Biological Engineering & Computing. 24 (2): 137–144. doi:10.1007/BF02443926.
  9. ^ Rudy Y, Plonsey R (1980). "Comparison of volume conductor and source geometry-effects on body-surface and epicardial potentials". Circulation Research. 46 (2): 283–291. doi:10.1161/01.res.46.2.283. PMID 6444278.
  10. ^ Witkowski FX, Penkoske PA, Plonsey R (1990). "Mechanism of cardiac defibrillation in open-chest dogs with unipolar dc-coupled simultaneous activation and shock potential recordings". Circulation. 82 (1): 244–260. doi:10.1161/01.cir.82.1.244. PMID 2364513.
  11. ^ "2013 IEEE TFA Recipients and Citations" (PDF). IEEE. Retrieved February 24, 2013.

External links[edit]