Craig Henriquez (1959–2023)

Brad Roth
4 min readJan 26, 2024
Short bio published in the IEEE Transactions on Biomedical Engineering in January, 1990.

I just learned that my friend Craig Henriquez passed away last summer. Craig earned his PhD at Duke University in their Department of Biomedical Engineering under the guidance of the renowned bioelectricity expert Robert Plonsey. His 1988 dissertation, titled “Structure and Volume Conductor Effects on Propagation in Cardiac Tissue,” was closely related to work I was doing at that time. Craig sent me a copy of his dissertation after he graduated. I really wanted to read it, but I was swamped with my my new job at the National Institutes of Health and helping care for my newborn daughter Stephanie. There wasn’t time to read it at work, and when I got home it was my turn to watch the baby, as my wife had been with her all day. The solution was to read Craig’s dissertation out loud to Stephanie as she crawled around in her play pen. She seemed to like the attention and I got to learn about Craig’s work.

Craig and I are nearly the same age. He was born in 1959 and I in 1960. Our careers progressed along parallel lines. After he graduated he stayed at Duke and joined the faculty. I recall he told me at the time that he didn’t know if he would make a career in academia, but he certainly did. He was on the Duke faculty for 35 years. In the early 1990s three young researchers at Duke-Craig, Natalia Trayanova, and Wanda Krassowska-were all from my generation. They were my friends, collaborators, and sometimes competitors as we worked to establish the bidomain model as the state-of-the-art representation of the electrical properties of cardiac tissue.

In my recent review about bidomain modeling (Biophysics Reviews, Volume 2, Article 041301, 2021) , I wrote (referring to myself in third person, as required by the journal; in the quotes below references are removed):

Roth’s calculation was not the first attempt to solve the active bidomain model using a numerical method. In 1984, Barr and Plonsey had developed a preliminary algorithm to calculate action potential propagation in a sheet of cardiac tissue. Simultaneous with Roth’s work, Henriquez and Plonsey were examining propagation in a perfused strand of cardiac tissue. For the next several years, Henriquez continued to improve bidomain computational methods with his collaborators and students at Duke. His 1993 article published in Critical Reviews of Biomedical Engineering remains the definitive summary of the bidomain model.

I’ve cited his 1993 review article ( Crit. Rev. Biomed. Eng., Volume 21, Pages 1–77) many times, including in Intermediate Physics for Medicine and Biology. It’s a classic.

Craig and I were both interested in determining if Madison Spach’s electrical potential data from cardiac tissue samples should be interpreted as evidence of discontinuous propagation (Spach’s hypothesis) or a bath effect.

The original calculations of action potential propagation in a continuous bidomain strand perfused by a bath hinted at different interpretations of Spach’s data. As discussed earlier, the wave front is not one-dimensional because its profile varies with depth below the strand surface. The same effect occurs during propagation through a perfused planar slab, more closely resembling Spach’s experiment. The conductivity of the bath is higher than the conductivity of the interstitial space, so the wave front propagates ahead on the surface of the tissue and drags along the wave front deeper below the surface, resulting in a curved front. The extra electrotonic load experienced at the surface slows the rate of rise and the time constant of the action potential foot. Plonsey, Henriquez, and Trayanova analyzed this effect, and subsequently so did Henriquez and his collaborators and Roth.

Craig became an associate editor of the IEEE Transactions on Biomedical Engineering, and he would often send me papers to review. He was a big college basketball fan. We would email each other around March, when our alma maters-my Kansas Jayhawks and his Duke Blue Devils-would face off in the NCAA tournament. His research interests turned to nerves and the brain, and he co-directed a Center of Neuroengineering at Duke. He eventually chaired Duke’s biomedical engineering department, and at the time of his death he was an Associate Vice Provost.

I found out about Craig’s death when I was submitting a paper to a journal. This publication asks authors to suggest potential reviewers, and I was about to put Craig’s name down as a person who would give an honest and constructive assessment. I googled him to get his current email address, and discovered the horrible news. What a pity. I will miss him.

Craig Henriquez talking about cardiac tissue and the bidomain model.

Originally published at



Brad Roth

Professor of Physics at Oakland University and coauthor of the textbook Intermediate Physics for Medicine and Biology.