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Christopher Fullerton

Postdoctoral Researcher

I am a member of Professor Peter Robbin's group where I work with the Laser Gas Analyser. This is device capable of measuring the gas a subject is breathing in and out in realtime with a high degree of accuracy. I have a background in Theoretical Physics, with a particular focus on solving problems computationally and I am excited to be applying what I have learned to a new area.

I work on developing models of the respiratory system controlled by a small number of parameters (for example the volume of a subject's lungs in which gas exchange takes place and a subject's cardiac output). These models also allow for inhomogeneity - a local variation in the stretchiness, the blood supply and the amount of deadspace throughout the lung. The general idea is that the more inhomogeneous a lung is, the less healthy it is.

I use different computational algorithms to work out which values of the model parameters best reproduce a subject's real breathing patterns as measured by the Laser Gas Analyser. The technical term for this is "solving an optimisation problem". The values these parameters take can be used to assess how inhomogeneous a subject's lungs are, with this acting as a diagnostic tool. This can be used to identify (for example) the otherwise undetectable early stages of Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease or to assess the effectiveness of different treatments for asthma.

I am currently involved in adding a detailed model of the circulatory system to the model respiratory system. The combination of these two models will allow us to make good estimates of quantities that cannot be measured without very invasive procedures, for example the oxygen concentration in the pulmonary artery. We also plan to use this to develop new diagnostic techniques, for example to identify pulmonary embolism without the use of ionising radiation.

I am a Theoretical Physicist by training, having completed a degree in Physics at the University of Oxford and a PhD in Theoretical Physics at the University of Manchester. Since then I have worked at the University of Bath and the University of Montpellier before moving to DPAG in September 2019. I am interested in systems made of simple components that combine together to produce complex behaviour. This can be anything from molecules forming unusually stable random structures, simple particles undergoing self assembly to form large, complex objects, or simple compartments in a lung with different properties working together to produce a realistic breathing pattern.

Recent publications

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