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UR Medicine / Anesthesiology / Research / Respiratory Physiology Lab

Respiratory Physiology Lab

respiratory lab

Studying results during an obstructive sleep apnea study in the respiratory physiology lab

The Anesthesiology Respiratory Research Laboratory was started by Dr. J Weldon Bellville at Stanford in the 1960’s and has been studying the effects of sleep, exercise and drugs on the control of breathing ever since. In 1972, Dr Bellville moved the laboratory to UCLA and Dr. Denham Ward became affiliated with it. In 1981, Dr. Ward became the director of the laboratory and in 1992 the laboratory was moved to the University of Rochester.
The laboratory is 517 square feet and is equipped with state of the art respiratory and EEG monitoring equipment. Breath-by-breath control of all inspirited gases allows for precise respiratory experiments. Airway pressure can also be controlled, both positive and negative, on a breath by breath basis allowing for sophisticated experiments on upper airway patency. Drug infusions can be controlled with a pharmacokinetic model coupled, computer controlled infusion pump. Experimental pain can be carefully controlled through either pressure or a thermador. Data analysis is carried out through a dedicated laboratory computer network using LINUX and with STATA and MATLAB software.

Dr. Suzanne Karan was appointed laboratory director in 2010 and is carrying on the traditions of the laboratory. She is currently studying sleep apnea and the reversal of sedative induced respiratory arrhythmias. The focus of this research is to evaluate how sedation/anesthesia and sleep affect respiratory function and the extent to which both states confer vulnerability for adverse outcomes (e.g., upper airway collapse). The overarching goals for this research are:
  1. The delineation of the common risk that is conferred by sleep and sedation for untoward respiratory events; 
  2. The determination of the extent to which sleep and sedation can co-exist and thereby increase risk (in an additive or multiplicative way) for adverse respiratory outcomes;
  3. An assessment of whether sleep disordered breathing exists as a risk factor for sedation related adverse respiratory events;
  4. An assessment of whether sedation related adverse respiratory events are predictive of the incidence and/or severity of sleep disordered breathing. 

The clinical utility of this information is to broaden the evidence-base that guides our care of the OSA patients (and at-risk patients) in the peri-operative period (and specifically while under the care of the non-Anesthesiologist sedation provider). 

Research Funding

The effects of pain and audiovisual stimulation on opioid induced depression of the hypoxic ventilatory response. Foundation for Anesthesia Education and Research – Fellowship Grant (2001-2002) (%80 effort, Principal Investigator, $50,000)

Validation of a Test to Predict Sedative-Induced Upper Airway Obstruction. Foundation for Anesthesia Education and Research – Research Starter Grant. (2004-2006) (50% effort, Principal Investigator, $80,000)

Sedation in patients at risk for sleep-induced upper airway collapse. Clinical Research Feasibility Funds (CReFF) Award. (2006-2007) (20% effort, Principal Investigator, 2,000) 

Physical Therapy of the Airway to Treat Patients with Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA). Pilot Collaborative Clinical and Translational program of the UR CTSI, University of Rochester. (2008-09) (20% effort, Principal Investigator, $49,700)