Imperial College London


Faculty of MedicineNational Heart & Lung Institute

Professor of Sleep & Respiratory Physiology







Room 103ASir Alexander Fleming BuildingSouth Kensington Campus





Mary Morrell is Professor of Sleep and Respiratory Physiology at the National Heart and Lung Institute, Imperial College London.

Mary Morrell received her PhD in Physiology from London University, having previously trained and practiced as a Nurse at St Mary's Hospital, Paddington. As a student in the Department of Respiratory Medicine at Charing Cross Hospital she developed an interest in the control of breathing during sleep which continues to drive her research.

Professor Morrell was awarded a Wellcome Trust Prize International Travelling Research Fellowship that allowed her to Post-doc at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Upon her return to the UK, Professor Morrell collaborated with clinical colleagues to set-up the Academic Unit of Sleep and Breathing, at the Royal Brompton Hospital. She has received Career Development and University Fellowships from the Wellcome Trust; funding from the British Heart Foundation and the NIHR.

The aim of her sleep research group is to investigate the causes and consequences of breathing disorders that occur during sleep; translating research into improvements in patient care. Her research focuses on the cardiovascular and neurological consequences of sleep apnoea; particularly in the vulnerable patients with pre existing heart disease, and older people.

Mary is committed to education and is involved in both postgraduate and undergraduate education. She is the Theme Leader for the 1st year MBBS Life Support Systems Course. She has served on the American Thoracic Society Board of Directors as Chair of the Respiratory Neurobiology and Sleep Assembly, is a member of the Editorial Board of the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine and a Trustee of the Physiological Society.

When not in the lab Mary has also carried out Sleep Research Projects at high altitude and has held a Wellcome Trust Science Arts Grant.

Selected Publications

Journal Articles

Polsek D, Cash D, Veronese M, et al., 2020, The innate immune toll-like-receptor-2 modulates the depressogenic and anorexiolytic neuroinflammatory response in obstructive sleep apnoea, Scientific Reports, Vol:10, ISSN:2045-2322

Wimms AJ, Kelly JL, Turnbull CD, et al., 2020, Continuous positive airway pressure versus standard care for the treatment of people with mild obstructive sleep apnoea (MERGE): a multicentre, randomised controlled trial, The Lancet Respiratory Medicine, Vol:8, ISSN:2213-2600, Pages:349-358

Benjafield AV, Ayas NT, Eastwood PR, et al., 2019, Estimation of the global prevalence and burden of obstructive sleep apnoea: a literature-based analysis, The Lancet Respiratory Medicine, Vol:7, ISSN:2213-2600, Pages:687-698

Alqurashi YD, Nakamura T, Goverdovsky V, et al., 2018, A novel in-ear sensor to determine sleep latency during the Multiple Sleep Latency Test in healthy adults with and without sleep restriction, Nature and Science of Sleep, Vol:10, ISSN:1179-1608, Pages:385-396

Polsek D, Gildeh N, Cash D, et al., 2018, Obstructive sleep apnoea and Alzheimer's disease: in search of shared pathomechanisms, Neuroscience and Biobehavioral Reviews, Vol:86, ISSN:0149-7634, Pages:142-149

Bucks RS, Olaithe M, Rosenzweig I, et al., 2017, Reviewing the relationship between OSA and cognition: Where do we go from here?, Respirology, Vol:22, ISSN:1323-7799, Pages:1253-1261

Looney D, Goverdovsky V, Rosenzweig I, et al., 2016, A Wearable In-Ear Encephalography Sensor for Monitoring Sleep: Preliminary Observations from Nap Studies, Annals of the American Thoracic Society, Vol:13, ISSN:2329-6933, Pages:2229-2233

Emamian F, Khazaie H, Tahmasian M, et al., 2016, The Association Between Obstructive Sleep Apnea and Alzheimer’s Disease: A Meta-Analysis Perspective, Frontiers in Aging Neuroscience, Vol:8, ISSN:1663-4365

Rosenzweig I, Glasser M, Polsek D, et al., 2015, Sleep apnoea and the brain: a complex relationship., Lancet Respiratory Medicine, Vol:3, ISSN:2213-2619, Pages:404-414

Rosenzweig I, Williams SCR, Morrell MJ, 2014, The impact of sleep and hypoxia on the brain: potential mechanisms for the effects of obstructive sleep apnea, Current Opinion in Pulmonary Medicine, Vol:20, ISSN:1070-5287, Pages:565-571

McMillan A, Bratton DJ, Faria R, et al., 2014, Continuous positive airway pressure in older people with obstructive sleep apnoea syndrome (PREDICT): a 12-month, multicentre, randomised trial, The Lancet Respiratory Medicine, Vol:2, ISSN:2213-2600, Pages:804-812

Morrell MJ, Jackson ML, Twigg GL, et al., 2010, Changes in brain morphology in patients with obstructive sleep apnoea, Thorax, Vol:65, ISSN:0040-6376, Pages:908-914

Twigg GL, Papaioannou I, Jackson M, et al., 2010, Obstructive Sleep Apnea Syndrome Is Associated with Deficits in Verbal but Not Visual Memory, American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine, Vol:182, ISSN:1073-449X, Pages:98-103

Goff EA, O'Driscoll DM, Simonds AK, et al., 2008, The cardiovascular response to arousal from sleep decreases with age in healthy adults, Sleep, Vol:31, Pages:1009-1017

Morrell MJ, Meadows GE, Hastings P, et al., 2007, The effects of adaptive servo ventilation on cerebral vascular reactivity in patients with congestive heart failure and sleep-disordered breathing, Sleep, Vol:30, Pages:648-653

Morrell MJ, McRobbie DW, Quest RA, et al., 2003, Changes in brain morphology associated with obstructive sleep apnea, Sleep Medicine, Vol:4, ISSN:1389-9457, Pages:451-454

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