Dr. Bill Sheel receives federal funding to support study of breathlessness and aging

Dr. Bill Sheel, Professor in the School of Kinesiology and head of the Health and Integrative Physiology Lab, has received $190,317 to study the causes of sex-based differences in breathlessness, with the ultimate goal of improving breathlessness in aging. Funding for the project has been awarded by the Canada Foundation for Innovation’s (CFI) John R. Evan Leaders Fund ($76,127) with matching funds awarded through the BC Knowledge Development Fund.

Dr. Bill Sheel in the Health and Integrative Physiology Lab

Many healthy, older individuals experience breathlessness during activities of daily living, which may be caused by a decline in lung function associated with healthy aging. Healthy older women report feeling breathless more often during exercise than men, but it is not yet known why.

“My research investigates the need to understand potential sex-based differences in breathlessness symptoms and their underlying mechanisms,” says Sheel. “Understanding what is ‘normal’ in healthy older women is especially important from a clinical perspective given that many diseases of the heart and lungs occur in older individuals.”

Sheel’s research will be the platform for future clinical trials designed to evaluate the impact of interventions with the potential to improve breathlessness in aging. The findings will provide an evidence-base for treatment of activity-related breathlessness as well as sex-specific treatment plans for the management of patients with cardiopulmonary diseases.

The John R. Evans Leaders Fund supports a select number of exceptional researchers at institutions across Canada. Designed to facilitate leading-edge projects, the funds enable investigators to access the research tools and equipment they need to become leaders in their field.

Dr. Sheel joins 27 other researchers across UBC as a recipient of the John R. Evans Leaders fund. The CFI is contributing more than $50 million through this Fund to 223 projects at 39 institutions across Canada.