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Dr Ana Paula Abdala Sheikh

Dr Ana Paula Abdala Sheikh

Dr Ana Paula Abdala Sheikh
BSc, M.Sc., Ph.D.

Senior Lecturer

Research Fellow

Area of research

Cardio-respiratory dysautonomia

Office G28
Biomedical Sciences Building,
University Walk, Bristol BS8 1TD
(See a map)

+44 (0) 117 331 1878


There is considerable overlap between the neural circuits that control breathing and those that control the cardiovascular system. Often dysfunctions in these systems are connected and should be addressed as a whole. Respiratory dysrhythmias are positively associated with increased cardiovascular risk and sudden death. Some types of respiratory arrhythmia are highly prevalent, like obstructive sleep apnoea (OSA). It affects between 9 to 38% of the adult population worldwide. In some elderly groups, OSA affects 90% of men and 78% of women. Most people remain undiagnosed and it is estimated that 1.5 million UK adults have OSA. There is no effective drug treatment, and the currently available treatment options are sub-optimal. My research group aims to address such unmet clinical needs.

We use preclinical models to identify and validate novel therapeutic targets to treat respiratory dysrhythmias and sympatho-vagal dysfunction. We are interested in the circuit dynamics of respiratory and cardiovascular centres, from rhythm and pattern formation to systems level. During preclinical stages, we also collaborate with mathematicians to develop realistic multiscale computational models of the respiratory and cardiovascular systems, which support the validation of newly identified targets. Through collaborations with a solid network of clinical researchers, we are able to take new discoveries into proof-of-principle studies in humans.


School of Physiology, Pharmacology and Neuroscience

  • Translating animal research into clinical applications (year 3, BSc Physiology)
  • Biologics (years 1 and 2, BSc Pharmacology)
  • Drugs and neural control of breathing (year 3, BSc Pharmacology)
  • Cardiovascular pharmacology practicals (year 2, BDS Dentistry and BSc Pharmacology)


  • blood pressure
  • heart rate
  • breathing
  • brainstem
  • vagus nerve
  • carotid body
  • MECP2
  • 5-HT1A


  • Obstructive sleep apnoea
  • central apnoea
  • Rett syndrome
  • Pitt-Hopkins syndrome
  • CDKL5
  • apnoeas of prematurity
  • sudden infant death
  • hypertension
  • heart failure

Processes and functions

  • breathing
  • control of blood pressure
  • control of heart rate


  • Electrophysiology: in situ (extracellular/intracellular)
  • In vivo telemetry
  • Whole-body plethysmograpphy
  • Confocal imaging
  • Opto- and pharmaco-genetics

Recent publications

View complete publications list in the University of Bristol publications system

Networks & contacts

  • Mathematics and Computing
  • Pharma

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