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Life of Breath 


Life of Breath was a five year (2015-20) research project funded by the Wellcome Trust. It was led jointly by Prof Jane Macnaughton (Durham University) and Prof Havi Carel (University of Bristol). The Life of Breath team included researchers from a number of different subjects including medicine, philosophy, anthropology, history, arts and literature. We also worked with the British Lung Foundation, people affected by lung disease, healthcare professionals and people who use their breath in interesting ways (e.g. musicians). 

Exploring Breathing and Breathlessness

Breathing isn’t just a bodily function. It allows us to speak, laugh and sing. It connects us to the outside world. It reflects our state of mind and can be consciously controlled. Breath has inspired art and literature. For many it has spiritual significance. The personal and cultural meaning of breathing goes beyond the simple act of keeping us alive. 

Breathlessness is also a very personal experience. It can be fleeting or a sign of something more serious. Some people deal with breathlessness better than others. As a result, doctors find it hard to measure and difficult to treat. Those living with breathlessness are often forgotten. We want to help people live well with breathlessness. Please follow the link to for news and blogs relating to the project and its progress. 

Our interdisciplinary team and collaborators worked together to find new ways of answering questions about breathing and breathlessness and their relationship to both illness and wellbeing. Some of the key events and outputs from the project include