Professor of Physiology Dr. Maurits Allessie was born in August 1945 and grew up in Amsterdam, the city where he also studied Medicine at the University of Amsterdam. He graduated in 1971 and obtained his PhD in 1977 with a thesis entitled: ‘Circulation Excitation in the Heart’. In 1975 he moved to Maastricht where he was appointed as Professor of Physiology in 1984. From 1990 to 2003 he was chairman of the Department of Physiology until he became Academy Professor of the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2003. In 2010 he retired from the chair of physiology at the University of Maastricht.
His research focussed on the electrophysiologic mechanisms of cardiac arrhythmias. He was the first to show rotors in the heart and to demonstrate multiple wavelets as a mechanism of perpetuation of atrial fibrillation. He developed a chronic goat model of atrial fibrillation and introduced the concept of electrical and structural remodeling that creates the substrate of persistent atrial fibrillation (‘AF begets AF’). Presently, his main research goal is to elucidate the electropathological substrate of longstanding persistent AF in patients with structural heart disease, using high resolution mapping during cardiac surgery. Recently from this study, a sofar unknown mechanism for the perpetuation of AF has emerged (the double layer hypothesis).