Research Laboratory of Richard Hughson
Professor and Schlegel Research Chair in Vascular Aging and Brain Health
Faculty of Applied Health Sciences
University of Waterloo

Vascular Aging and Brain Health
Space Physiology Laboratory

Research Program Space & Astronauts Recent Publications Photo Gallery

Listen to podcast discussing our paper on brain blood flow in astronauts recently published in American Journal of Physiology (go to Journal website).

Our research program has three major components:

Vascular Aging and Brain Health

Through the support of the UW-Schlegel Research Institute for Aging Professor Hughson holds the Schlegel Research Chair in Vascular Aging and Brain Health. We study factors related to cardiovascular health with aging. One focus is on blood pressure regulation and its impact on brain blood flow to help us understand some of the factors that could contribute to falls in the elderly, especially those that occur on rising from bed. Another focus is on aging blood vessels. We have reported a strong link between peripheral arterial stiffness and a reduction in brain blood flow (Robertson AD, Tessmer CF, Hughson, RL. Association between arterial stiffness and cerebrovascular resistance in the elderly. J. Human Hypert. 24: 190-196, 2010). We are currently funded by the Canadian Institutes for Health Research to investigate the link between cardiovascular health and brain health.
New for 2014
The RIA, and our research lab, will soon have a new home in the world's first integrated research - long-term care - retirement community located on a university campus. See more details about the new Research Institute for Aging's Learning, Research and Innovation Centre.

Space Physiology Research

Our space research program is very active. We recently completed the study Cardiovascular and Cerebrovascular Control on Return from the International Space Station (CCISS). See the links to research results below. We are currently collecting data for the project Cardiovascular Health Consequences of Long-Duration Space Flight (Vascular). Chris Hadfield will be the next subject for this experiment. Chris will also be the first subject for the experiment BP Reg - Blood pressure regulation in space and on return to Earth. We also have another proposal being developed for space flight opportunities. In addition to space flight, we also take part in simulation studies including the Women's International Space Simulation for Exploration (WISE-2005) and the Short-Term Bed Rest with Artificial Gravity which were completed at the MEDES facility in Toulouse. Some of the important recent observations in the study of the cardiovascular system with space flight have been reported in a recent article (Hughson RL. Recent findings in cardiovascular physiology with space travel. Respir Physiol Neurobiol 169 Suppl 1: S38-S41, 2009). All of this research is being funded by the Canadian Space Agency. There are links to web sites below.

Cardiovascular Adaptation to Exercise

The basic research program represents a true integrative approach to studies of cardiovascular control in young, healthy individuals during exercise or with changes in posture. We have studied breath-by-breath oxygen uptake in the adaptation to exercise challenges, and we were among the very first to apply Doppler ultrasound technology to measure blood flow to working skeletal muscle. A key recent observation was the effect of prior circulatory occlusion on blood flow and oxygen consumption during subsequent exercise (Faisal A, Dyson KS, Hughson, RL. Prolonged ischemia impairs muscle blood flow and oxygen uptake dynamics during subsequent heavy exercise. J Physiol 588: 3785-3797, 2010). This basic physiology research is being funded by the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council.

Honours and Awards received by Prof. Hughson
Canadian Society for Exercise Physiology Honour Award, 1997.
University of Waterloo Award for Excellence in Research, 2000.
University of Waterloo, University Research Chair, 2004.
University of Waterloo, Award of Excellence in Graduate Supervision, 2005.
Schlegel Research Chair in Vascular Aging and Brain Health, 2010

Results and highlights of space research Return to Top
Here are some links that take you to the descriptions of the experiments and the biographies of the CCISS and Vascular astronauts
The CCISS info page at NASA and at the CSA.

Meet the CCISS and Vascular astronauts!
Clay Anderson    Dan Tani
Mike Fincke - check out Mike's tour of ISS from his earlier mission (10-min long)    Sandy Magnus
Mike Barratt    Tim Kopra
Bob Thirsk- Canada's first long-duration astronaut!
Links to Bob Thirsk's videos from space:
Get Fit for Space
Working out on the ARED
Soyuz launch
Here are the Vascular astronauts' biographies.
The Vascular info page at NASA and at the CSA.
Jeff Williams    Tracy Caldwell
Shannon Walker    Cady Coleman
Mike Fossum    Satoshi Furukawa
Don Pettit

Listen to the interviews about our international research activities on bed rest and space flight from CBC's Quirks and Quarks with Bob McDonald.

CSA WISE-2005 bed rest story

ESA stories on WISE-2005 and men's 90d bed rest This page has links to the different protocols within the WISE project and quite a few other interesting items.

WISE-2005, but all of the English language links seem to be taken down.

Some recent publications: Return to Top

  1. Hughson RL, Shoemaker JK, Blaber AP, Arbeille P, Greaves DK, Pereira-Junior PP, Xu D. Cardiovascular regulation during long-duration spaceflights to the International Space Station. J Appl Physiol. 112: 719-727, 2012.
  2. Zuj KA, Arbeille P, Shoemaker JK, Blaber AP, Greaves DK, Xu D, Hughson RL. Impaired cerebrovascular autoregulation and reduced CO2 reactivity after long-duration spaceflight. Am. J. Physiol. Heart Circ. Physiol. 302: H2592-H2598, 2012 (related podcast)
  3. Fraser KS, Greaves DK, Shoemaker JK, Blaber AP, Hughson RL. Heart Rate and Daily Physical Activity with Long-duration Habitation of the International Space Station. Aviat Space Environ Med 83: 577-584, 2012
  4. Arbeille Ph, Zuj KA, JK Shoemaker JK, Hughson RL. Temporal artery Doppler spectrum morphology responses to tilt and LBNP as an early indicator of syncope. Aviat Space Environ Med 83: 394-402, 2012
  5. Edgell H, Robertson AD, Hughson RL. Hemodynamics and brain blood flow during posture change in younger women and post-menopausal women compared to age-matched men. J Appl Physiol 112: 1482-1493, 2012
  6. Arbeille P, Shoemaker JK, Kerbeci P, Schneider S, Hargens A, Hughson RL. Aortic, cerebral, and lower limb arterial and venous response to orthostatic stress after a 60 day bedrest. Eur J Appl Physiol 112: 277-284, 2012
  7. Zuj KA, Shoemaker JK, Custaud MA, Arbeille P, Hughson RL. WISE 2005: Responses of women to sublingual nitroglycerin before and after 56 days 6° head down bed rest. J Appl Physiol 2012
  8. Aletti F, Ferrario M, Xu D, Greaves DK, Shoemaker JK, Arbeille P, Baselli G, Hughson RL. Short term variability of blood pressure: effects of lower body negative pressure and long duration bed rest. Am J Physiol Regul Integr Comp Physiol 303: R77-R85, 2012
  9. Hughson RL, Faisal A. On the method of fitting cardiac output kinetics in severe exercise. Eur J Appl Physiol 111: 1529-1532, 2011.
  10. Hughson RL, Faisal A. Oxygen uptake kinetics: Implications for endurance running success. Theories Applications Int Ed 1: 24-31, 2011.
  11. Hu Q, Zhu W, Zhu Y, Zheng L, Hughson RL. Acute effects of warm footbath on arterial stiffness in health young and older women. Eur J Appl Physiol 2011
  12. Dyson KS, Williams-Bell M, Denniss SG, Hughson, RL. Sustained hyperaemia stimulus is necessary to induced flow-mediated dilation in the human brachial artery. Clin Physiol Function Imag 31: 415-421, 2011
  13. Robertson AD, Tessmer CF, Hughson, RL. Association between arterial stiffness and cerebrovascular resistance in the elderly. J Human Hypert 24: 190-196, 2010
  14. Faisal A, Dyson KS, Hughson, RL. Prolonged ischemia impairs muscle blood flow and oxygen uptake dynamics during subsequent heavy exercise. J Physiol 588: 3785-3797, 2010
  15. Faisal A, Beavers KR, Hughson RL. O2 uptake and blood pressure regulation at the onset of exercise: interaction of circadian rhythm and priming exercise. Am J Physiol Heart Circ Physiol 299: H1832-H1842, 2010.
  16. Hodges GJ, Mattar L, Zuj KA, Greaves DK, Arbeille PM, Hughson RL, Shoemaker JK. WISE-2005: prolongation of left ventricular pre-ejection period with 56 days head-down bed rest in women. Exp Physiol. 95: 1081-1088, 2010
  17. Williams-Bell FM, Boisseau G, McGill J, Kostiuk A, Hughson RL. Physiological responses and air consumption during simulated firefighting tasks in a subway system. Appl Physiol Nutr Metab. 35: 671-678, 2010
  18. Williams-Bell FM, Boisseau G, McGill J, Kostiuk A, Hughson RL. Air management and physiological responses during simulated firefighting tasks in a high-rise structure. Appl Ergon. 41:251-9, 2010
  19. Dyson KS, Shoemaker JK, Arbeille P, Hughson RL. Modelflow estimates of cardiac output compared with Doppler ultrasound during acute changes in vascular resistance in women. Exper Physiol. 95 (4):561-568, 2010
  20. Hughson RL. Recent findings in cardiovascular physiology with space travel. Respir Physiol Neurobiol. 169 Suppl 1: S38-S41, 2009
  21. Williams-Bell FM, Villar R, Sharratt MT, Hughson RL. Physiological demands of the Candidate Physical Abilities Test. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 41:653-662, 2009
  22. Hughson RL. Oxygen uptake kinetics: Historical perspective and future directions. Appl Physiol Nutr Metab. 34: 840-850, 2009.
  23. Trudel G, Payne M, Mädler B, Ramachandran N, Lecompte M, Wade C, Biolo G, Blanc S, Hughson R, Bear L, Uhthoff HK. Bone Marrow Fat Accumulation after 60 Days of Bedrest Persisted 1 Year after Resuming Activities Along with Hemopoietic Stimulation - the WISE Study. J Appl Physiol. 107: 540-548, 2009.
  24. Faisal A, Beavers KR, Robertson AD, Hughson, RL. Prior moderate and heavy exercise accelerate oxygen uptake and cardiac output kinetics in endurance athletes. J Appl Physiol 106: 1553-1563, 2009
  25. Guinet P, Schneider SM, Macias BR, Watenpaugh DE, Hughson RL, Pavy Le Traon A, Hargens AR. Wise-2005: Aerobic and resistive exercises attenuate orthostatic intolerance during 60-days bed rest in women. Eur J Appl Physiol 106: 217-227, 2009
  26. Harvey DG, Villar R, Sharratt MT, Hughson RL. Physiological demands of the firefighter Candidate Physical Abilities Test (CPAT). Med Sci Sports Exerc. 41: 653-662, 2009
  27. Arbeille P, Kerbeci P, Mattar L, Shoemaker JK, Hughson RL. Insufficient flow reduction during LBNP in both splanchnic and lower limb areas is associated with orthostatic intolerance after bed rest. Am J Physiol Heart Circ Physiol 295: H1846-H1854, 2008
  28. Denniss SG, Haffner TD, Kroetsch JT, Davidson SR, Rush JWE, Hughson RL. Effect of short-term lycopene supplementation and postprandial dyslipidemia on plasma antioxidants and biomarkers of endothelial health in young, healthy individuals. Vasc Health Risk Management 4: 213-222, 2008 (on line:
  29. Arbeille P, Kerbeci P, Mattar L, Shoemaker JK, Hughson RL. WISE-2005 - Tibial and gastrocnemius vein and calf tissue response to LBNP after a 60-day bed rest with and without countermeasures. J Appl Physiol. 104:938-43 2008.
  30. Harvey DG, Kraemer JL, Sharratt MT, Hughson RL. Respiratory gas exchange and physiological demands during a fire fighter evaluation circuit in men and women. Eur J Appl Physiol. 103: 89-98, 2008
  31. Mourot L, Bouhaddi M, Gandelin E, Cappelle S, Nguyen NU, Wolf JP, Rouillon JD, Hughson R, Regnard J. Conditions of autonomic reciprocal interplay versus autonomic co-activation: Effects on non-linear heart rate dynamics. Auton Neurosci. 137: 27-36, 2007
  32. Demiot C, Dignat-George F, Fortrat JO, Sabatier F, Gharib C, Larina I, Gauquelin-Koch G, Hughson R, Custaud MA. WISE 2005: Chronic bed rest impairs microcirculatory endothelium in women. Am J Physiol Heart Circ Physiol. 293: H3159-H3164, 2007
  33. Edgell H, KA Zuj, DK Greaves, JK Shoemaker, MA Custaud, P Kerbeci, P Arbeille, RL Hughson. WISE-2005: Adrenergic responses of women following 56-days, 6o head-down bed rest with or without exercise countermeasures. Am. J. Physiol. 293: R2343-R2352, 2007.
  34. Fischer D, P Arbeille, JK Shoemaker, DD O'Leary, RL Hughson. Altered hormonal regulation and blood flow distribution with cardiovascular deconditioning after short-duration head down bed rest. J. Appl. Physiol. 103: 2018-2025, 2007
  35. Watenpaugh DE, DD O'Leary, SM Schneider, SMC Lee, BR Macias, K Tanaka, RL Hughson, AR Hargens. Lower body negative pressure (LBNP) exercise plus brief post-exercise LBNP improves post-bed rest orthostatic tolerance. J. Appl. Physiol. 103: 1964-1972, 2007
  36. Shoemaker JK, L Mattar, P Kerbeci, S Trotter, P Arbeille, RL Hughson. WISE 2005: Stroke volume changes contribute to the pressor response during ischemic handgrip exercise in females. J. Appl. Physiol.103: 228-233, 2007
  37. O'Leary, DD, RL Hughson, JK Shoemaker, DK Greaves, DE Watenpaugh, BR Macias, and AR Hargens. Heterogeneity of responses to orthostatic stress in homozygous twins. J. Appl. Physiol. 102: 249-254, 2007
Some Photos: Return to Top
1. Running in Star City, just outside Moscow, near statue of Yuri Gagarin
2. Setting up an astronaut for testing in Star City
3. Testing the brain blood flow response
4. Mike Barratt returns to Star City after 6-months in space