E. Fiona Bailey, PhD

  • Professor, Physiology
  • Professor, Evelyn F Mcknight Brain Institute
  • Professor, BIO5 Institute
  • Professor, Speech, Language and Hearing Sciences

Our research focus is the neural control of breathing in human and nonhuman mammals. Our initial publications assessed the role of pulmonary stretch receptors and central chemoreceptors in the genesis and relief of dyspnea or shortness of breath in healthy adults. These studies led to studies in the mammalian (rodent) airway that explored the modulation of upper airway muscles activities by chemical and pulmonary afferent feedback and the potential for selective electrical stimulation of the cranial nerve XII to alter airway geometry and volume (NIH/NIDCD RO3). With support from NIH (NIDCD K23), We began work in neural control of upper airway muscles using tungsten microelectrodes to record from single motor units in adult human subjects in 2005. This work has in turn, led to studies on the regulation of regional (or segmental) muscle and motor unit activities in human subjects across a range of drives/conditions (NIH/NIDCD RO1).  In Recent publications, my laboratory has continued to develop a novel line of enquiry focused on obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) and how sleep related breathing disorders contribute to an individual’s risk for hypertension and cardiovascular disease. In 2013, we implemented a novel format of an existing training program known as inspiratory muscle strength training (IMST) to determine the effects of this form of training on sleep, blood pressure, and respiratory muscle strength first in healthy young adults and subsequently, in adults with mild, moderate and severe OSA. Supported by a grant from the American Heart Foundation, we have obtained preliminary data for this application that show just ~5mins/day of IMST lowered systolic and diastolic blood pressure in both groups. Remarkably, in adults with OSA, improvements in blood pressure occurred independent of any change in individuals’ apnea/hypopnea index (AHI). That is, the decline in BP was independent of OSA severity and continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) use. IMST holds considerable promise as an inexpensive, effective and safe means of lowering blood pressure in patients who are unwilling or unable to comply with CPAP and are intolerant of conventional exercise regimens. Our work is funded by NIH/NIA and by industry (StimAire:https://stimaire.com/).

Research Interests: 

Respiration related regulation of blood pressure
Sleep disordered breathing
Neonatal cardio-respiratory stability