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Professor Damian Bailey - University Alliance. Pontypridd, Wales, GB

Professor Damian Bailey

Professor of Physiology | University of South Wales

Pontypridd, Wales, UNITED KINGDOM

He investigates how the human brain uses oxygen and the link between the brain and exercise.

Areas of Expertise (6)




Brain Damage

Brain Injury

Oxygen Flow in the Brain


Professor Damian Bailey is Professor of Physiology and Head of the Neurovascular Research Laboratory at the University of South Wales. He investigates how the human brain uses oxygen and the link between the brain and exercise. As part of this work he has looked at short bursts of high intensity exercise, how different types of exercise contribute to the flow of oxygen in the brain and brain injuries arising from sports such as rugby football. He also studies the link between brain health and neurodegenerative diseases and examines how different levels of oxygen challenges the brain and affects issues such as blood flow and glucose levels.

Damian’s early career was at the British Olympic Medical Centre and at the University of Oxford’s Department of Biochemistry - exploring the brain’s contribution to influencing exercise performance. He is a former international sportsman (in football and athletics) and set up a Hypoxia research Lab equipped with an environmental chamber that can simulate the high-altitude environment. He is a Royal Society Wolfson Research Fellow.

Media Mentions (4)

Alex Scott reveals how podcasts and probiotics could be key to helping mental health

Mirror  online


Professor Damian Bailey from the University of South Wales, said: “To target certain parts of the brain, you don’t need to be huffing and puffing and really pushing yourself hard in the gym. You can do some really neat little exercises, that don’t really feel like you’re exercising at all, that stimulate the brain really quite remarkably.”

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Rugby union's dark news on dementia presents a reality the sport has dared not face

The Guardian  online


“The idea that you have to lose consciousness for damage to have been caused is a common misconception,” says Prof Damian Bailey of the University of South Wales. “It only causes confusion. All impacts to the body, let alone those direct to the head, have the potential to cause some degree of functional or structural modification to the brain. More than 90% of concussions do not involve loss of consciousness.”

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MRI reveals long-term effects of space travel on the brain

Physics World  online


“Spaceflight-associated neuro-ocular syndrome remains among NASA’s top health risks for long-duration spaceflight,” agrees physiologist Damian Bailey of the University of South Wales. The study “lends additional support to the evolving albeit controversial hypothesis that [its] symptoms are related to chronic intracranial hypertension,” he adds, noting that the findings are not only relevant for astronauts, but may also help inform the clinical management of hospital patients suffering from related symptoms.”

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The Great British Intelligence Test: Self-evident study of the nation’s intelligence is more a test of patience

Evening Standard  online


What is the connection between exercise and cognitive function? Cut to footage of a young man with wires on his head, a tube in his mouth, cycling furiously on an exercise bike while Damian Bailey from the University of South Wales explains that the higher the intensity of exercise, the more nitric oxide and brain-derived neurotrophic factor — “sort of fertiliser for the brain” — is produced.

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Affiliations (13)

  • Life Sciences Working Group - European Space Agency (Chair)
  • WASP (Wales Academic Space Partnership)
  • European Association for Cardiovascular Prevention and Rehabilitation (Member)
  • The European Huntington’s Disease Network
  • Neurodem Cymru (Wales Dementias and Neurodegenerative Diseases Research Network)
  • Older People Aging and Stroke Research Networks
  • Pulmonary Vascular Research Institute (Fellow)
  • Royal Society of Chemistry and Electron Spin Resonance Interest Group (Fellow)
  • British Association of Sport and Exercise Sciences (past Accredited Research Physiologist)
  • British Climatic Physiology Group (c/o Institute of Naval Medicine)
  • The Physiological Society (Fellow)
  • Medical Expeditions
  • American College of Sports Medicine (Fellow)

Articles (3)

HIITing the brain with exercise; mechanisms, consequences and practical recommendations

The Journal of Physiology

Calverley, T.A., Ogoh, S., Marley, C.J., Steggall, M., Marchi, N., Brassard, P., Lucas, S.J.E., Cotter, J.D., Roig, M., Ainslie, P.N., Wisløff, U. and Bailey, D.M.

2020 The increasing number of older adults has seen a corresponding growth in those affected by neurovascular diseases, including stroke and dementia. Since cures are currently unavailable, major efforts in improving brain health need to focus on prevention, with emphasis on modifiable risk factors such as promoting physical activity. Moderate-intensity continuous training (MICT) paradigms have been shown to confer vascular benefits translating into improved musculoskeletal, cardiopulmonary and cerebrovascular function. However, the time-commitment associated with MICT is a potential barrier to participation, and high-intensity interval training (HIIT) has since emerged as a more time-efficient mode of exercise that can promote similar if not indeed superior improvements in cardiorespiratory fitness for a given training volume and further promote vascular adaptation. However, randomised control trials (RCTs) investigating the impact of HIIT on the brain are surprisingly limited. The present review outlines how the HIIT paradigm has evolved from a historical perspective and describes the established physiological changes including its mechanistic bases. Given the dearth of RCTs, the vascular benefits of MICT are discussed with a focus on the translational neuroprotective benefits including their mechanistic bases that could be further potentiated through HIIT. Safety implications are highlighted and components of an optimal HIIT intervention are discussed including practical recommendations. Finally, statistical effect sizes have been calculated to allow prospective research to be appropriately powered and optimise the potential for detecting treatment effects. Future RCTs that focus on the potential clinical benefits of HIIT are encouraged given the prevalence of cognitive decline in an ever-ageing population. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.

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Cardiorespiratory fitness is associated with increased middle cerebral arterial compliance and decreased cerebral blood flow in young healthy adults: A pulsed ASL MRI study

Journal of Cerebral Blood Flow & Metabolism

Bailey, D.M., Rose, G.A., Berg, R.M.G., Davies, R.G., Appadurai, I.R., Lewis, M.H. and Williams, I.M. (2020).

2019 Cardiorespiratory fitness is thought to have beneficial effects on systemic vascular health, in part, by decreasing arterial stiffness. However, in the absence of non-invasive methods, it remains unknown whether this effect extends to the cerebrovasculature. The present study uses a novel pulsed arterial spin labelling (pASL) technique to explore the relationship between cardiorespiratory fitness and arterial compliance of the middle cerebral arteries (MCAC). Other markers of cerebrovascular health, including resting cerebral blood flow (CBF) and cerebrovascular reactivity to CO2 (CVRCO2) were also investigated. Eleven healthy males aged 21 ± 2 years with varying levels of cardiorespiratory fitness (maximal oxygen uptake ( V · O2MAX) 38-76 ml/min/kg) underwent MRI scanning at 3 Tesla. Higher V · O2MAX was associated with greater MCAC (R2 = 0.64, p < 0.01) and lower resting grey matter CBF (R2 = 0.75, p < 0.01). However, V · O2MAX was not predictive of global grey matter BOLD-based CVR (R2 = 0.47, p = 0.17) or CBF-based CVR (R2 = 0.19, p = 0.21). The current experiment builds upon the established benefits of exercise on arterial compliance in the systemic vasculature, by showing that increased cardiorespiratory fitness is associated with greater cerebral arterial compliance in early adulthood.

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The 2018 Global Research Expedition on Altitude-Related Chronic Health (REACH) to Cerro de Pasco, Peru: An experimental overview

Experimental Physiology

4. Tymko, M.M., Hoiland, R.L., Tremblay, J.C., Stembridge, M., Dawkins, T., Coombs, G.B., Patrician, A., Howe, C.A., Gibbons, T., Moore, J., Steinback, C.D., Stacey, B.S., Bailey, D.M., MacLeod, D., Gasho, C., Anholm, J., Bain, A., Lawley, J., Hansen, A.N., Villafuerte, F., Vizcardo, G. and Ainslie, P.N.

2018 New findings: What is the central question of this study? Herein, a methodological overview of our research team's (Global REACH) latest high altitude research expedition to Peru is provided. What is the main finding and its importance? The experimental objectives, expedition organization, measurements, and key cohort data are discussed. The select data presented in the current manuscript demonstrate the hematological differences between lowlanders and Andeans with and without excessive erythrocytosis, and that exercise capacity was similar between study groups at high altitude. The forthcoming findings from our research expedition will contribute to our understanding of lowlander and indigenous highlander high altitude adaptation. Abstract: In 2016, the international research team - Global Research Expedition on Altitude-related Chronic Health (REACH) - was established and executed a high altitude research expedition to Nepal. The team consists of ∼45 students, principal investigators and physicians with the common objective of conducting experiments focused on high altitude adaptation in lowlanders, and highlanders with lifelong exposure to high altitude. In 2018, Global REACH traveled to Peru where we performed a series of experiments in the Andean highlanders. The experimental objectives, organization and characteristics, and key cohort data from Global REACH's latest research expedition are outlined herein. Herein, fifteen major studies are described that aimed to elucidate the physiological differences in high altitude acclimatization between lowlanders (n = 30) and Andean born highlanders with (n = 22) and without (n = 45) Excessive Erythrocytosis (EE). After baseline testing in Kelowna, BC, Canada (344 m), Global REACH travelled to Lima, Peru (∼80 m), and then ascended by automobile to Cerro de Pasco, Peru (∼4300 m) where experiments were conducted over 25 days. The core studies focused on elucidating the mechanism(s) governing cerebral and peripheral vascular function, cardiopulmonary regulation, exercise performance, and autonomic control. Despite encountering serious logistical challenges, each of the proposed studies were completed at both sea level and high altitude amounting to ∼780 study sessions and > 3000 hrs of experimental testing.

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