Dr Jichao Zhao

PhD (UWO, Canada), FHRS

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Senior Research Fellow


Dr. Zhao is a Principal Investigator (PI) and leads a team at Auckland Bioengineering Institute, University of Auckland, New Zealand,  that aims to improve our understanding of the most common cardiac arrhythmia, atrial fibrillation (AF), and to investigate effective strategies for AF treatment by combining novel computational approaches (signal/structural analysis, computer models and machine learning) with structural imaging, experimental mapping and clinical studies.

Recent collaboration with overseas researchers has made it possible for Dr. Zhao to study the intact human hearts directly to illustrate the roles of human atrial structure and function in AF and improve our understanding of the human sino-atrial node. He also leads an MRI study of patients with AF. His team has developed novel machine learning approaches for analyzing functional and structural data from patients to aid clinical diagnosis and targeted treatment.  Finally, his group has also developed a robust rabbit model with metabolic syndrome to study the exact mechanism underlying the increased susceptibility to cardiac disease.

In the past four years (2014-18), Dr. Zhao has published >30 journal articles with an average impact factor of >6.0. As a result of his highly influential work, he has received three prestigious project grants in the past three years; one from the Health Research Council of New Zealand and two from US National Institutes of Health. These sources of external funding enable him to support his current team.

Currently, we have a couple of PhD/Masters/Postdoc positions open, contact Dr. Zhao if you are interested in.

Research | Current

Current research interests

  • Machine learning
  • Computer models of atria
  • Atrial mapping study
  • Atrial electrogram analysis
  • Patient specific models of atria
  • Sino-atrial node structure

Project links


Postgraduate supervision

2019-Ms Sarah Fong

2019-Mr Zhaohan Xiong

2017-Ms Shaleka Agrawal

2017-Mr Kevin Jamart

2017-Mr Andy Lo

2014- Mr Girish Ramlugun

2013- Mr Belvin Thomas

2012- Ms Shu Meng


Selected publications and creative works (Research Outputs)

  • Xiong, Z., Fedorov, V. V., Fu, X., Cheng, E., Macleod, R., & Zhao, J. (2019). Fully Automatic Left Atrium Segmentation From Late Gadolinium Enhanced Magnetic Resonance Imaging Using a Dual Fully Convolutional Neural Network. IEEE transactions on medical imaging, 38 (2), 515-524. 10.1109/tmi.2018.2866845
  • Xiong, Z., Nash, M. P., Cheng, E., Fedorov, V. V., Stiles, M. K., & Zhao, J. (2018). ECG signal classification for the detection of cardiac arrhythmias using a convolutional recurrent neural network. Physiological measurement, 39 (9)10.1088/1361-6579/aad9ed
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: Martyn Nash
  • Zhao, J., Schotten, U., Smaill, B., & Verheule, S. (2018). Loss of side-to-side connections affects the relative contributions of the sodium and calcium current to transverse propagation between strands of atrial myocytes. Frontiers in Physiology, 9 (SEP).10.3389/fphys.2018.01212
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: Bruce Smaill
  • Stephenson, R. S., Rowley-Nobel, J., Jones, C. B., Guerrero, R., Lowe, T., Zhao, J., ... Jarvis, J. C. (2018). Morphological substrates for atrial arrhythmogenesis in a heart with atrioventricular septal defect. Frontiers in Physiology, 9 (AUG).10.3389/fphys.2018.01071
  • Xiong, Z., Liu, T., Tse, G., Gong, M., Gladding, P. A., Smaill, B. H., ... Zhao, J. (2018). A Machine Learning Aided Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of the Relative Risk of Atrial Fibrillation in Patients With Diabetes Mellitus. Frontiers in Physiology, 9.10.3389/fphys.2018.00835
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: Bruce Smaill
  • Fu, X., Liu, T., Xiong, Z., Smaill, B. H., Stiles, M. K., & Zhao, J. (2018). Segmentation of histological images and fibrosis identification with a convolutional neural network. Computers in biology and medicine, 98, 147-158. 10.1016/j.compbiomed.2018.05.015
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: Bruce Smaill
  • Pathik, B., Kalman, J. M., Walters, T., Kuklik, P., Zhao, J., Madry, A., ... Lee, G. (2018). Absence of rotational activity detected using 2-dimensional phase mapping in the corresponding 3-dimensional phase maps in human persistent atrial fibrillation. Heart rhythm, 15 (2), 182-192. 10.1016/j.hrthm.2017.09.010
  • Cheung, A., Gong, M., Bellanti, R., Ali-Hasan-Al-Saegh, S., Li, G., Roig, E., ... Hakki, K. (2018). Cancer antigen-125 and risk of atrial fibrillation: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Heart Asia, 10 (1)10.1136/heartasia-2017-010970


Contact details

Primary office location

Level 6, Room 639
New Zealand

Social links

Web links