Ary Goldberger, M.D.
Founding Core Faculty Member
Professor of Medicine
Harvard Medical School
Ary helped introduce nonlinear dynamics to bedside medicine by demonstrating that healthy human output signals, such as heartbeat, brain waves, and balance adjustments, are complicated and irregular. Their unpredictability indicates a system that is adaptive enough to respond to changing conditions, much as a baseball player adjusts his bat and stance in response to different pitches. This complex variability has a hidden organization that can be measured and mapped using new methods developed by Ary and his colleagues. They have discovered that a loss in signal complexity indicates a range of health issues, from aging and frailty to heart attack and sleep apnea. For example, the cardiac signals from patients with congestive heart failure often display a simple, regular, and rigid pattern. Ary is probing these signals for the encoded information they reveal about a body's physiology and using this information to develop non-linear algorithms and other computational tools that warn of impending health problems. In one application being developed at the Wyss Institute, he hopes to use these tools to detect and treat sleep apnea -- a dangerous pause in night-time breathing that may be lethal to premature infants. Ary is developing miniaturized, wireless systems that remotely monitor the changes in electrocardiography (ECG) that accompany sleep apnea.
Ary directs the Margret & H. A. Rey Institute for Nonlinear Dynamics in Medicine at the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center. He is a Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School and Program Director of the Research Resource for Complex Physiologic Signals (PhysioNet). Dr. Goldberger has written two textbooks on ECG analysis, and he was featured in the acclaimed 2008 PBS NOVA show on fractals, entitled Hunting the Hidden Dimension.