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Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) affects 400 million people worldwide and is a leading cause of death. Smoking remains the major risk factor for this condition. Unfortunately, there has been little improvement in outcomes for patients with COPD over the last two decades, in part because we currently lack the ability to diagnosis the condition early, before irreversible damage has occurred in the lungs. In Oxford we have over recent years developed a new technology for the non-invasive assessment of lung function, which is based upon quantification of heterogeneity (‘unevenness’) of gas exchange within the lung, rather than measurements of overall lung function. Across several patient groups, including those with asthma, COPD and cystic fibrosis, this is showing promise as a highly-sensitive marker of early lung disease. In this project, we will test the hypothesis that our measurements of lung heterogeneity, which are made during a period of relaxed breathing through a mouthpiece, are sensitive enough to identify early lung disease in smokers in whom conventional measures of lung function are normal. Our aim is to develop a test for early COPD, which will allow therapeutic intervention prior to the development of irreversible lung disease.

The co-supervisor for this project is Dr Nayia Petousi.


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Primary Supervisor

  • Nick Talbot
    Nick Talbot

    Associate Professor and Consultant in Respiratory Medicine

Research Group