The Life of Breath


Title of project:

The Life of Breath


Name and institution of principle investigators:

Professor Jane Macnaughton, Durham University and Professor Havi Carel, University of Bristol


Names and institutions of co investigators/collaborators:

Literary/cultural studies (Prof Corinne Saunders, Durham University)

Medical history: Dr Ronit Yoeli-Tlalim (medical historian, Goldsmiths); Prof Tim Cole (history, Bristol)

Medical Anthropology: Dr Andrew Russell (Durham University) Dr Alice Malpass (University of Bristol)

Respiratory clinicians (Prof Ann Millar and Dr Nick Maskell, Academic Respiratory Unit, University of Bristol)

Respiratory neuroscientist: Dr James Dodd (University of Bristol)

Expert interdisciplinary facilitator and arts in health specialist (Mary Robson, Durham)

Patient representation: Bev Wears, Justin Parsons (British Lung Foundation Breathe Easy Groups).

Design and public engagement: Dr David Swann (expert in healthcare design and service transformation, University of Huddersfield).

Primary care research in COPD: Dr Veronika Williams (University of Oxford).


Funding sources:

Wellcome Trust Joint Senior Investigator Award


Summary of research:

The ‘Life of Breath’ programme ( aims to achieve the fullest possible understanding of breath, breathing and breathlessness by drawing on both biomedical information and on cultural, literary, historical and phenomenological research. Our goal is to use an innovative, medical humanities approach to enhance understanding of breathlessness in healthcare contexts and the effectiveness of interventions in diseases such as Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) in which breathlessness is a key symptom. The programme involves researchers in a range of faculties and departments at Durham University and the University of Bristol, along with clinicians and experts-by-experience.
Project website/webpage:


Anticipated time frame of project:

5 years : 2015-2019


Anticipated audiences:

Medical humanities scholars, literary/cultural scholars of the body, medical anthropologists, clinicians working in respiratory medicine, patients/carers.


Tagged as: 

Interdisciplinarity, medical humanities, breath, breathing, breathlessness.


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Posted on 13 Apr 2015, under Projects.