Faculty Members

Dr. Silvia Pagliardini

Associate Professor
Department of Physiology
    Contact details are for academic matters only.

About Me

Dr. Silvia Pagliardini is currently appointed as Associate Professor in the Department of Physiology in the Faculty of Medicine and Dentistry.


Respiratory Physiology (PHYSL210); Neurophysiology (PHYSL310); PHYSL Honors Research coordinator (PHYSL461,467,468/469); PHYSL reading course (PHYSL466); Optogenetics&Chemogenetics (PMCOL371). 

Neuroscience undergraduate program coordinator.


neuromodulation of breathing; state dependent modulation of breathing; sleep disordered breathing; respiratory rhythmogenesis.

Breathing is an automatic behaviour that is essential for mammalian life and requires a coordinated contraction of respiratory muscles that must occur continuously, from birth until the last breath. In humans and other mammals the part of the brain that controls respiratory activity is the brainstem, where specialized groups of neurons generate a continuous rhythm that ultimately drives respiratory muscles. Two regions in the brainstem contribute to generate respiratory rhythms, the preBötzinger Complex (that drives inspiratory muscle activity) and the paraFacial Respiratory Group (that drives expiratory muscle activity).

Respiratory activity is also highly influenced by brain state activity, with abnormalities and irregularities occurring most frequently during sleep, when voluntary respiratory control is lacking, and chemosensitive and propriosensory feedback systems are often insufficient to maintain a rhythmic respiratory drive and airway patency (sleep disordered breathing).

Research conducted in the Pagliardini laboratory aims to gain an understanding of the neuronal mechanisms that control breathing and affect its function during sleep, when the majority of respiratory disorders of central origin occur. We are currently interested in delineating the function of a region in the brainstem that is crucial for the generation of expiratory activity, the paraFacial Respiratory Group. Its contribution to ventilation in health and disease is yet not clear. We are also interested to study how brain state and different neuromodulators affect breathing rhythm and pattern.

We use a combination of physiological, anatomical, pharmacological,chemogenetic and optogenetic techniques to test our hypotheses.

Research Keywords

brainstem, chemogenetics, confocal imaging, electrophysiology, EMG/EEG, immunohistochemistry, in vivo physiology, inspiratory/ expiratory activity, neuroscience, optogenetics, respiratory neurobiology, sleep, sleep disordered breathing, sleep states