Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) and snoring are very common sleep disorders associated with repeated episodes of upper airway collapse and breathing interruption during sleep. If left untreated, OSA can lead to a number of health issues including excessive daytime sleepiness, cardiovascular disease and neurocognitive impairment - to name a few.
The Sleep and Upper Airway Research Group (SUARG) are concerned with determining the causes of OSA, developing simplified and more accurate methods to quantifying it, and progressing personalized treatments to improve health.
A primary focus of SUARG is on investigating the mechanisms underlying upper airway collapse in OSA and how it can be circumvented with targeted interventions to treat this serious health condition. The patency of the upper airway is governed by several complex and interacting anatomical, physiological and biomechanical factors. Accordingly, our group utilizes a multi-model, multi-disciplinary approach to decipher upper airway behavior. These include computational finite element modeling, physical models, detailed physiological experiments using anaesthetized animal and human models, as well as biomedical imaging studies. One goal of our group is to apply these approaches in determining the role of the hyoid bone (a mobile bone at the base of the tongue) in maintaining an open airway, as well as in the therapeutic efficacy of certain OSA treatment options (e.g. mandibular advancement, hypoglossal nerve stimulation).
Snoring (occurring on its own or with OSA) is another sleep-related breathing disorder that may independently have more serious consequences than just noise pollution. There is evidence to
suggest that snoring-associated tissue vibrations have a potential pathological impact on the carotid artery, which can lead to carotid atherosclerosis and subsequent ischemic stroke. Using
our multi-model approach, we aim to investigate these mechanisms further.
SUARG has strong collaborations with internationally renowned investigators and labs in Australia, as well as the USA. We are always on the lookout to grow our team with enthusiastic
researchers and students from engineering, medicine and science to contribute to our exciting research projects.