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Respiratory Investigation Unit (RIU)

The Respiratory Investigation Unit at Queen's University and Kingston Health Sciences Centre (Kingston General Hospital Site), founded by Dr. Denis O’Donnell is 1990, is a clinical respiratory physiology research group dedicated to studying the neurophysiologic mechanisms of dyspnea (respiratory discomfort) and activity limitation in patients with a variety of cardiorespiratory diseases (e.g., chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), interstitial lung disease, pulmonary hypertension, heart failure, etc.). We employ a variety of sophisticated and integrative physiologic measurements to assess the neural drive to breathe, respiratory mechanics, pulmonary gas-exchange, and acid-base balance, cardiocirculatory responses to exertion, central and peripheral neuromuscular fatigue, and lung structure-function relationships. The long-term goal is the development of innovative treatment approaches to alleviate dyspnea, increase functional capacity and improve quality of life in these patients. Our current studies focus on using inhaled vasodilators to interrogate the role of pulmonary gas-exchange abnormalities on the neurophysiology of breathlessness in mild COPD and idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis; and the structural (CT and functional-MRI) and functional underpinnings of excess ventilation in mild COPD; and physical activity and exercise capacity in COPD-Obstructive Sleep Apnea overlap.

More recently, the Laboratory of Clinical Exercise Physiology (LACEP) has been incorporated into the RIU, further increasing the array of cutting-edge, technological resources in our laboratory.